Colleen Brunetti, M.Ed., C.H.C.

Making Friends with Kale

“Colleen – you are the only one I know who could tell me how to make friends with kale.”

kalefreeThis SOS from a friend of mine cracked me up… but it also reminded me that kale is one of those veggies many people have a love it or hate it relationship with. And if she was feeling this way, there were probably a few more people out there, so I thought that instead of just helping her out, I’d put this out there for all of you.

Kale is generally considered a super food. In other words, it’s a food that packs so many nutritional benefits, it’s worth making a regular part of your diet, and may likely contribute to better overall health. In the case of kale, a lot of this has to do with the high fiber content and the vitamin-rich nutrients of the dark leafy greens. In addition to this, kale actually has more protein per ounce than many cuts of red meat!

But kale isn’t the easiest to prepare… at least without a little know-how. Once you get the hang of it though, you can incorporate this farm-fresh CSA darling into your regular diet and reap all the benefits.

The easiest way to consume kale is to drink it! All the ingredients that go into my Chocolate Shake Smoothie work to mask the kale taste. And the blender does the hard work of breaking up the fiber for you.  Try this:

Chocolate Shake Smoothie
2 cups almond milk, 3 cups kale, 2 fresh bananas, 4 dates, 3 tablespoons cacao and one tsp. vanilla extract. To make it sweeter, add more dates or use a flavored almond milk (which would have sugar in it). Blend until all ingredients are liquified. To make a full meal, add a scoop of high quality protein powder. Makes enough to serve 2 – 4.

Kale Salad
The next easiest way to consume kale is raw. But the trick to enjoying it this way is to actually massage the leaves using something like the juice from half a lemon, olive oil, or some avocado. Add your desired ingredient to the kale and dig in – massage for around 3 minutes, being sure to rub the juice or avocado into each leaf. The leaves will start to wilt a bit as the fiber is broken down.  For a delicious kale salad, try adding some diced roasted sweet potato, black beans, and corn. Top with a light lime infused dressing.  (I like to blend one mango, 1 tbs olive oil, juice from half a lime, a few sprigs of cilantro, and enough water to liquify in my mini-blender to create a nearly sodium and fat free tropical dressing).

Kale Saute
This is probably how I prepare kale most often in the winter months. De-stem an entire head of kale and tear into bite sized pieces. Line a large frying pan with enough water to cover, and crust in two – three cloves of garlic. Simmer the garlic until soft, toss in kale and cook down until just slightly wilted (only takes a few minutes). Add just a splash more water if the pan gets too dry. Top with roasted red peppers and kalamata olives and heat through.  Drizzle with a little olive oil. Makes a delicious side dish – or toss with a can of chickpeas for a complete light dinner.

Bonus tip: Wondering why we line the pan with water instead of oil? Two reasons: first it saves on fat and calories from cooking with more oil than you need. Second, oil when heated to a smoking point becomes carcinogenic. So it is to your health benefit in at least two ways to sprinkle it on after. You still enjoy the taste and health benefit, without the risks. 🙂  You can prepare most pan-saute veggies this way.