About 8 years ago, we all starting hearing about this new green superfood known as kale. The nutritional benefits were off the charts and inspired many of us to give kale a try. After all, kale was now listed among the world's healthiest foods. This leafy green vegetable gets credit for lowering cholesterol, reducing heart disease, aiding in healthy digestion, and strengthening your bones, hair, and nails. Kale also helps control blood glucose levels which is great news for diabetics. It can lower your risk of cancer and help lower your blood pressure. The nutrients and antioxidants found in kale are quite impressive! Vitamin K, A, and C top the charts for kale. And more iron can be found in one ounce of kale than one ounce of beef! Kale also contains more calcium per calorie than milk! Seems pretty amazing, right?
The problem was, when kale first made its appearance, most people didn't have a clue as to how to prepare it. If you did what I did at first, I just chopped up the leaves like I would a regular salad and found myself chewing the heck out of it. Kale leaves can be quite fibrous and tough to eat. As a matter of fact, some people experience gas and bloating after eating kale. Seems confusing, right? After all, kale is supposed to help with digestion. I guess it is the same principal as eating beans for example. Some people have no issues, while other experience unpleasant side effects. If you can't digest kale properly, you won't be able to utilize all of its benefits. Fortunately, over the years I have learned how to prepare kale in ways that bring out its best which makes it one of my go-to greens.
So lets talk about how we can make kale a pleasant experience for everyone. Cooking kale always helps break down the leaves, leaving them soft and easy to chew. But if you want to enjoy kale raw, massaging it is the way to go. Yes, that's right, I said massaging. When you massage the kale, you are not only softening the leaves, but you are also transforming the flavor of kale from it's raw bitterness, into a more silky and sweet leafy green.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. Simply remove the fibrous stems of the kale and rub the leaves together. You can use a splash of olive oil to help soften things. Or, like in this salad I'm sharing with you, the massaging takes place after chopping the kale. You will pour half of the homemade dressing over the kale and use your hands to massage the chopped kale. You will notice the softening and sweetening take shape and before you know it, you have an amazing and delicious salad that is easy to eat! Two bunches of kale may seem like a lot, but it reduces in size quite a bit once you complete the massaging process.
The dressing also adds another bit of health...apple cider vinegar! If you have yet to implement this liquid magic into your daily routine, now is the time! It's another example of a simple ingredient with multiple benefits. When selecting the kale, I prefer the Lacianto variety with this salad. But feel free to use whatever you have on hand. You can turn this salad into a hearty main course by adding some protein, such as chicken, fish, or something from the legume family. This is a very simple salad that I hope will turn you into a kale lover if you haven't quite arrived there yet. Because after all, it appears the kale fad will not be fading anytime soon. It's popularity continues to rise, even after all of these years. As people continue to pursue a healthier lifestyle, I think kale will stay at the top of the leader board among the world's healthiest foods.
For the salad:
2 bunches kale (I prefer Lacianto), finely chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup shredded beets
1/4 cup microgreens
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
For the dressings:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1 tsp sea salt
1. Mix all of the dressing ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Place the dressing in your refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Rinse and dry the kale. Then finely chop the kale and place in a large bowl.
3. Pour half of the dressing over the kale and gently massage the kale with your hands for about 3 minutes. You will notice the kale will start to soften. Place the bowl of kale in your refrigerator for about 30-60 minutes.
4. While waiting for the kale to marinate, prepare the remainder of the vegetables.
5. Remove the bowl of kale from the refrigerator and gently toss in the rest of the ingredients. Add more dressing if desired. Makes about 6 servings.