Tag Archives: kale

The Trick to Making a Delicious Kale Salad

salad plate

How do you really feel about kale?

If you’re making a bitter face after reading that sentence, I understand. The No. 1 complaint I hear about kale is that it’s soooo bitter. And you’re right. Eaten completely raw the stuff is absolutely disgusting. There, I said it. But when kale is properly prepared, that bitterness mellows and can even (dare I say) turn slightly sweet, and that, my friends, is when kale becomes absolutely delicious!

If you take nothing else away from this post know this: Eating healthy does not mean force feeding yourself bitter green things. No one does that. Or at least no one does that for more than a day or two without coming back to reality. I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to kale beyond it’s bitter rap. The trick is just knowing how to prepare it.

Here’s a fun fact. Did you know chopping kale in a food processor sort of smells like freshly cut grass? It does… but if your salad tastes like your lawn there is a problem…

chop greens

IMG_4202

Bitter is Better
The darker the green, the more bitter the taste. But don’t let that scare you. Dark leafy greens are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, chlorophyll and oxygen. They help detoxify, purify the blood, oxygenate your cells and can even lift your spirit. All these benefits and yet dark leafy greens have so many of us stumped. Once you know how to prepare them though, they’re easy to add to any meal.

Banish the Bitter
Now that we’ve appreciated bitterness for what it means nutritiously, let’s talk about how to get rid of it. Kale is a hearty plant with a tough exterior so that it can endure the harsh winter months. To enjoy it raw, you have to get it to soften, because behind that tough exterior is just a sweet vegetable. It’s all in the approach. And it starts with lemon. The acid in lemon counters the bitter flavor and helps to break down the leaves. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a 1:1 ratio and season with salt and pepper to make a simple dressing. Pour dressing over the chopped greens and (this is the real trick) get in there with your hands and massage the kale. You read right… massage – deep-tissue style – both hands. in there. working it. This breaks down the cellulose structure of the plant so that it wilts and softens. Pay attention as you massage and notice the leaves turn a more brilliant green and shrink up a bit. And just like that the kale is transformed from lawn clippings to a delicious salad…. Magic!

dressing

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add nuts and fruit

Massaged Kale Salad

Ingredients

1 bunch kale
1-2 lemons
1/8 cup EVOO
salt & pepper
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
1 cup dried fruit (currants, raisins, cranberries, etc.)

Directions

Wash kale well and tear leaves away from stem. Tear leaves into pieces and place in food processor or blender to chop. Pulse until  finely chopped (you’ll have to do this part in a few batches). Transfer to a large bowl.

Next, make the dressing. In a small bowl combine juice from lemons and EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and whisk well until combined. Pour over kale and massage the dressing into the greens using your hands.

Mix in choice of nuts, fruit or other salad toppings. If kale still tastes bitter, add more lemon and continue to massage until no longer bitter.

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Creamy Butternut Cauliflower Soup with Chicken and Kale

butternut cauliflower soup

There are two types of people in this world. There are those that when food is scarce, put on their boots and walk to the store in the ice. And then there are those that get creative and make do with what they’ve got in the kitchen. I am the latter of the two; my husband is the former. Case in point: when I woke up Friday morning to winter storm Cleon and a forecast below freezing through Sunday, I knew I’d be settling in for the long haul. My husband, on the other hand, wanted breakfast tacos. While he headed out into the icepocolypse, I went straight to the kitchen to figure out what the heck we were going to eat. It’s funny, sometimes it’s the meals where you’re short on ingredients or have to substitute with what you have on hand, when you discover the most delicious combinations.

cook vegetables

add broth

blend soup

add kale

bowl of soup

Creamy Butternut Cauliflower Soup with Chicken and Kale

Ingredients

2 tbsp. virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 inch piece ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1/2 head cauliflower, cut in florets
6 cups chicken broth
1 lb chicken breast, diced
1/2 bunch kale, torn into small pieces
salt and pepper

Directions

Place a large soup pot over medium heat and and add a little (about 1/2 cup) of the broth. Once heated through, add diced chicken and cook until opaque. When done, transfer chicken and broth to a bowl and set aside.

Return pot to medium heat and add oil. Then add onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Next add garlic and ginger. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes. Add squash and cauliflower to the pot and stir to coat with oil and aromatic mixture. Cook 5-7 minutes, then add broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered 15-20 or until vegetables are tender enough to be pierced with a fork.

To blend the soup, you can use either a blender or an immersion blender. If using a blender, be careful handling the hot soup. Make sure the lid is secure – you may want to hold a towel over the lid just in case (you don’t want hot liquid flying in your face!). With an immersion blender you can blend the soup directly in the pot. Blend until silky and smooth.

Add chicken and extra broth back to the pot along with kale. Return the soup to a low boil and allow the kale to wilt into the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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butternut squash + kale + white beans + quinoa

Things I will miss about winter:

1. My UGG boots
2. Using the excuse “It’s too cold” to do nothing but curl up and watch Bravo
3. Meals like this….

I’m coming to terms with the fact that this will likely be my last bite of butternut squash for awhile, which makes me a little sad. Is it weird to miss vegetables? Wait, don’t answer that… My husband on the other hand does not share my nostalgia for these peculiar-shaped roots. As the “chopper” of the household, he’d be happy if he never came head to head with one of these guys on the chopping block again. They sure are little boogers to get into, but man, it’s so worth it. That buttery flavor and heartiness make them the perfect healthy comfort food. Plus with their dye-your-skin-orange flesh they’re chock full of antioxidants to keep your immune system in tip-top shape, just when you need it the most.

Literally, all I did here is saute sliced red onion in a skillet. Add the squash. Then broth. Then kale. Then beans. Serve over quinoa and voila! You’ve got yourself a dinner that might make you miss b-squash too. It’s crazy healthy, and even crazier that it’s so delicious. I almost can’t believe it myself. Here’s the full recipe….

Butternut Squash with Kale and White Beans over Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small butternut squash. peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 bunch kale, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into thin crescents
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can cannellini beans (or 2 cups cooked beans)

For the dressing (whisk all ingredients together to combine):

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Rinse and drain quinoa well. Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil and add quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes until all of the water is absorbed.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add squash and stir to coat with oil. Cook 7-10 minutes. When the edges of the squash begin to sear and stick to the pan, stir in the vegetable broth. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes. When the squash is soft, add kale and stir to combine. When the greens have reduced, add white beans and stir to combine.

Serve over quinoa; drizzle with lemon dressing.

And enjoy that last taste of winter.

As sad as I am to pack up my UGGs and say goodbye to b-squash, I’m just as excited to move on to spring. To help you get your body ready for the season, I’m offering a Spring Clean Your Body program. Now is the time we can all use a little spring cleaning — inside and out. Sessions can be done individually or with friends. For more information, click here.

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Greens + Onions + Mushrooms

Last weekend Dr. Joel Fuhrman gave us this as a cancer fighting super combo: greens + onions + mushrooms. For the green part of the equation, cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts and cabbage, are particularly beneficial. The phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables keep toxins from doing the kind of damage to our DNA that leads to cancer. The cruciferous greens modify human hormones, detoxify compounds and stop toxins from sticking around. Onions are like the antibacterial scrub to clean the system. And mushrooms are aromatase inhibitors that block the synthesis of estrogen – making them especially protective against breast cancer. The recipe at the end of this post (and pictured above) is a tasty way to get all three.

According to Fuhrman, the most beneficial compounds we get from these foods though are the isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs boost the immune system, but the catch is that they don’t actually exist in the foods themselves. Tricky. ITCs take shape when the foods are chopped or chewed. Think of when you’ve chopped into an onion and your eyes welled up. The smell that’s released and your ensuing water works are a result of a chemical reaction taking place. Fuhrman’s point is to chop before heating and chew well to get the maximum benefit from your foods.

Speaking of chopping an onion… here’s a video that shows how its really done.

And here’s a more complete list of cruciferous cancer fighters:

  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • broccoli rabe
  • brocollina
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • collards
  • horseradish
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard greens
  • radish
  • red cabbage
  • rutabaga
  • turnips
  • turnip greens
  • watercress

Kale with Mushrooms and Onions

What you need:

– 1 bunch kale, torn into bite size pieces
– 1 yellow onion, cut into crescents
– shitake mushrooms
– olive oil
– 1 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
– 1/2 tbsp mirin (rice wine)
– 1 tbsp water

What you do:
Heat pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onions. Cook 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent. Add mushrooms. Cook a few minutes. Add kale. Stir to coat with oil. Combine tamari, mirin and water in a bowl. When greens begin to shrink down, pour in liquid mixture. Stir and cook a few more minutes. Taste greens to know when they’re done. Greens will be wilted and slightly sweet, not bitter. Serve with brown rice or quinoa.

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The Green Smoothie

I know how it sounds.

But really I am not a crazy with a juicer. I’ve never even juiced anything. And I hate V8. I do realize a green smoothie sounds questionable, but if it wasn’t good I can tell you I would not have one everyday for breakfast. And I do! It’s delicious and such a good start to the day.

A few weeks ago I posted about leafy greens and how crazy good they are for you. Green = vitamins, minerals and all that good stuff. I’d heard of people who made green juice drinks as a way to squeeze in extra fruit/veggie servings. It can be part of a healing or a cleansing diet, or just a way to start the day off right. We all have those days when it’s just easier to pick up a sandwich. But when I have this smoothie in the morning I know that no matter what the day might bring (read: Chick Fil A lunch), I’ve already had my green.

I make it in the Magic Bullet. I’m sure you’ve seen the infomercial. It’s perfect for smoothies because you can just throw all your ingredients in one of the single serving cups, blend it and go.

Yes, it looks like it glows in the dark. But I swear all you taste is the mango. It’s sneaky like that. I used mangos here, but you can mix up whatever fruit you want. I like it with strawberries and blueberries too (and the darker fruit hides the green). I always use a banana because it gives it a soft, creamy texture. Frozen fruit makes a thicker smoothie too. Also, I add flaxseed for a serving of Omega-3s with its anti-inflammatory benefits.

What you need:

1 banana
a handful of frozen mango chunks
orange juice
1 tsp flaxseed (grounded or flax seed oil)
2-3 leaves kale, torn

What you do:
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend, adding more orange juice as needed to facilitate blending.

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Go Leafy Green.

Up until a few months ago my knowledge of leafy greens started with romaine and ended with spinach. Come to find out those are so 2008. Today it’s all about mustards, collards, dandelions and kale. Who knew such a smorgasbord of edible foliage was out there? Before, I probably would have guessed kale was a cousin of shrimp. No clue. Now I buy a bunch every trip to the grocery store. I admit, I used to hurry past that wall of green in the produce section on my way to the carrots and baby spinach. But I’m trying to spend more time in the weeds.

And by weeds I mean leafy greens, not the… well, you know. And the greener the better. I understand the common prejudice toward green things. I’ve never had a problem with the color. My food aversions are of the shape variety – like hot dogs. But that’s neither here nor there. Greens though, never an issue. If you can get past any preconceived notions and the image I’ve given you of actually eating weeds, kale and other dark leafy greens are actually quite tasty when done right. Plus they’re about as green as it gets and mama didn’t push those green beans because they’re beans. Green means vitamins, minerals and all that good stuff. So go get ya some.

Here’s my standby way of preparing kale.

What you need:
1 bunch kale
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced into crescents
1 tbsp tamiri or soy sauce
2 tbsp water

What you do:
Wash kale by submerging leaves in a bowl of cold water. Dry, and tear kale leaves away from stems and into pieces.
Heat olive in pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute a few minutes, until translucent. Add kale and stir to coat with oil. The kale will turn a brilliant bright green and begin to wilt. Mix together the tamiri (or soy) and water. When greens begin to wilt, add liquid and allow the leaves absorb it, about 5-8 minutes. Taste to see if they’re done – greens should not be bitter, but a little sweet and still green.

And here’s more on how to cook mouthwatering greens and five more ways to eat kale.

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