Eating your greens is probably the most impact full thing you can do for providing and maintaining good health in your body.
Kale is one of my most favorite greens. It is a bitter green, but it also has an almost meaty feel to it so it really satiates you like some softer greens aren't able to. When massaged, the bitterness turns to sweet and it becomes so incredibly delicious. If a good flavor and texture aren't reason enough, the fact that it is nutrient dense and provides many fantastic health benefits should be all you need to know in order to insert it into your diet wherever and whenever possible.
Kale is part of the brassica family along with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and collard greens. As with most brassica vegetables, kale has incredible cancer fighting properties due to a chemical it contains called sulforaphane. This chemical is most easily accessed by the body when it is consumed raw. Kale also provides valuable cardiovascular support in terms of its cholesterol-lowering ability. On top of all of that it contains very high amounts of beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium.
I generally make our morning smoothies with kale as often as possible to ensure that my toddler benefits from it regularly. He isn't yet a fan of it in its leafy state, so until then I include it in his diet in other ways. For a good kale smoothie recipe, check out my Green Coconut Smoothie. If your child is like mine and isn't yet a fan, this salad can still be considered toddler approved due to all of the other ingredients. My little guy loves everything else about it, and has a great time hunting for all of the other veggies. I will still include the kale in his portion, despite the fact that he doesn't yet like it because you never know when that might change. Eliminating it will certainly not inspire a desire to eat it, that is for sure!
Before we get on to the How To video; a Flourchild first! I want to quickly explain why you massage kale in the first place.
I briefly touched on one of the reasons earlier in the post when I talked about it breaking down the bitter flavor and turning it sweet. I should add that, by sweet, I don't mean sweet like a piece of fruit, but just sweeter than it is in its un-massaged state. Giving your kale a good rub down also helps to break down the cell wall, making it easier to digest. Oh, and who doesn't like to play with their food?!
All hail kale!
Massaged Kale Salad with Golden Beets and Asparagus
1 store/market bought bunch of kale (washed and spines removed)
4 golden beets (roasted, peeled and chopped)
10 spears of asparagus (lightly steamed)
1/3 of a cucumber (chopped)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/4 onion (diced)
1/4 cup of blueberries
4 tbsp of goji berries (soaked)
3 tbsp of hemp hearts
a handful of pine nuts
1/2 of an avocado
juice from one medium sized lemon or 3/4 of a large lemon
pinch of sea salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, while heating, wash and prep your beets. If they still have their stems and leaves, remove them, otherwise leave the skins on and cut in half length wise. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and wrap in tin foil on a cookie sheet. Roast your beets for about 50 minutes. Let cool before peeling their skins away (the skins should rub off easily with your thumb if cooked properly). Once they are cooled and peeled, chop into cubes and set aside.
Next, wash and prep the kale. Remove the leafy parts from the spines of each piece. Add the avocado, lemon juice and sea salt and begin massaging into the leaves. You will want to continue kneading the leaves for a couple of minutes. The longer you massage, the sweeter the flavor of the kale will get. It will also allow for the kale it be digested with more ease. Once massaged well, set aside.
Steam the asparagus lightly (about 5 minutes) in a double boiler or steamer. Remove from the cooking vessel and let cool on a separate dish to ensure that it does not continue cooking.
While the asparagus cools, wash and prep your other ingredients. Dice the onion, cut the tomatoes into halves and cut the cucumber into thin quartered slices.You will want to soak the goji berries in water for a minute or two. This will soften them and bring out their flavor. It also washes the berries of any debris or chemicals they may have picked up in processing or transportation.
Once all of your ingredients are washed, roasted, steamed, soaked and chopped (that sounds like a lot of work!) you can begin adding them all to the bowl of kale, incorporating well. Don't forget to toss in the hulled hemp hearts at the end. Serve immediately.
This recipe yields approximately 4 servings.