Dietitian Pick of the Month for March: Kalettes!

by Sara Kelly, RD, LD

As a self-proclaimed veggie-holic, I was very excited to see the dietitian “pick of the month” for March is a new vegetable I hadn’t yet heard about, Kalettes. Kalettes are a cross between Brussels sprouts and my personal favorite blood-clotting superfood, kale.  Kalettes were created by traditional hybridization.

Reading about Kalettes made me wonder about the process of hybridization: what is the process of hybridization and what other fruits and vegetables are considered hybrids?

Simply put, hybridization is a process that occurs when two similar species of plants are cross-pollinated. The end result is a plant that retains the desirable features of both its paKalettesphotorents. You probably already consume some fruits and vegetables that are considered hybrids without even realizing it – plant breeders have been creating hybrid fruits and vegetables for years for various reasons, such as to bring higher yields, earlier maturity, better taste, and more resistance to pests and bad weather. For example, carrots have been “hybridized” over the years to increase their beta-carotene content. Seedless watermelon is considered a hybrid. And sometimes, like with Kalettes, cross-pollinating is used to create a whole new fruit or vegetable. The popular tangelo fruit was created in 1911 by cross-pollinating grapefruit and tangerines. Broccoflower is a delicious blend between cauliflower and broccoli and was first introduced in 1989.  Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. A pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot.

Hybridization is not the same as GMO. A GMO plant has been genetically engineered to alter its DNA in a way that could not be accomplished by nature alone. It is important to not confuse genetically modified foods with hybrid foods.

Kalettes officially hit the shelves at West Circle Hy-Vee on March 1, and I for one am excited to try them! They are located in the produce section by the bagged salads. Stop by your nearest Hy-Vee today and pick up a bag of this new, nutritious vegetable today! 

Sara Kelly - DietitianSara Kelly, RD, LD, CSG, earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Family andConsumer Science – Dietetics from Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota. She completed her dietetic internship at the Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Bay Pines, Florida. Sara has worked in several areas of clinical nutrition, including three years as an inpatient clinical dietitian at a large hospital in South Georgia, and two years as a renal dietitian at a dialysis center.  She is a Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG). Sara is a registered, licensed dietitian and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is passionate about healthy eating and has a special interest in geriatrics as well as vegetarian/vegan nutrition. Sara spends most of her free time chasing after her infant son, Weston. Sara provides a variety of services including store tours, cooking classes, health screenings (biometrics) and individual consultations, as well as answering questions in the aisles. You may contact Sara by email at sakelly@hy-vee.com. View all of Sara’s posts here.