Health food junkies and hippies alike are telling everyone to eat more kale by announcing their feelings on shirts, stickers, and other merch. What gives? If after doing an internet search for why kale is good for you, you found out that kale is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, iron, calcium, antioxidants, fiber, and a wide range of other nutrients that can help your body to function at its best, you probably want to eat more kale, too. Although there are many different kinds of kale, you can choose whichever one seems best for you based on the texture and still receive the benefits. Here are ten ways you can eat more kale, just like those t-shirts say!
1. Raw And ‘Massaged’ With Oil
Something I didn’t know for a long time is how health food restaurants got their raw kale to be both delicious and not so chewy. The answer is that they ‘massage’ their kale. Super weird! Yet, highly effective. You see, massaging your kale helps to give it a softer texture because it breaks down the tough cellular structure, ultimately making it easier to digest as well as more appetizing.
To massage your kale, wash and dry the leaves, then lie them flat on a surface you don’t mind getting oily like a cutting board or sheet pan. You can strip the leaf part away from the stem if you like, but feel free to keep the stem for some extra fiber. Chewers’ choice. Pour a little olive oil in your hand or on the kale and gently massage it into the leaf. Push down firmly on the leaves to help soften them. The leaves will darken to a beautiful dark green. After you’ve massaged both sides, cut into bite size pieces and toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Enjoy as the base to a salad, in a grain bowl, or as a side. A tangy and healthy way to eat more kale! Here’s a recipe you can try for salad.
Wilting refers to cooking the kale just enough that it softens from the heat, but not so much that it changes texture to the point that it becomes crunchy. There’s no need to massage your kale before you cook it, but feel free to strip the leaf from the stem if you please, up to you.
Toss in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. It will only take three to five minutes for the kale to wilt, so watch and stir until the leaves become darker and softer. For variations, you can squeeze some lemon wedges and add them to the pan, or cut up some garlic. If you go with garlic, let it sizzle for a minute or two in the oil before adding the kale.
I like to wilt my kale for a nice, warm kale salad. First, soak a generous handful of cranberries in sugar and lemon juice until they become plump. Toast nuts of your choosing in a separate pan with salt and olive oil, just long enough to become fragrant, then remove immediately from the pan so they don’t overcook. Next, add chopped kale and plumped cranberries to a lightly oiled pan (could be the nut pan) until wilted and warmed. Put everything together in a bowl. Add the cheese of your choosing, some sliced apples, this mustard dressing, or all three! Perfect for eating more kale on cooler nights.
Sautéed kale is the perfect side dish for meat, fish, or grain entrées that are in need of some greens. Remove leaves from the stem if you like while you sauté some garlic in a drizzle of olive oil, then toss your chopped kale in the pan to cook for five to seven minutes. This recipe adds red-wine vinegar, and either vegetable stock, white wine, or water to help build flavor. I love to finish my sautéed kale with some red pepper flakes, so I can eat more kale with a kick. Make sure you use salt and pepper, too.
Steaming kale is one of the healthiest options for preparing kale because you’re cooking it without oil. Although this isn’t my favorite way of preparing kale, if you’re trying to cut back on oily things in your diet, this is perfect. The best way to do it is to purchase a steamer.
Place your steamer insert into your saucepan and add water until just under the bottom of the steamer, but not touching. Put the lid on and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the kale and cover again. It will only take seven to ten minutes to steam the kale depending on its thickness. Done! Dress with lemon, salt, and pepper. Add a little olive oil, if you’re eating it.
5. Kale Chips
Kale chips are so incredible! The best part is, you don’t feel guilty about eating a whole bowl. Crispy and chewy at the same time, you can munch on these while watching a movie, at a party, or with lunch. Kale chips are best cooked in a dehydrator, but most people don’t own one. Not to worry! Baking your kale chips is a great, accessible alternative. Check out this recipe for some pointers.
My favorite way to season kale chips is with salt, pepper, chili flakes, and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast adds extra vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants to your kale chips, or to popcorn. Adding nutritional yeast will give a yummy, umami, cheesy flavor that is hard to resist! I promise that you will eat more kale if you turn it all into chips.
If you got into the juicing trend, you probably own the machine necessary to partake. If not, check out your local supermarkets, farmer’s markets, cafés, and bodegas for pre-juiced kale. Some brands are healthier than others, so make sure to keep an eye on the sugar content and the ingredient list for sneaky, unhealthy secrets. Chances are good at health food stores, restaurants, and cafés because they’re already keen on all that.
7. Hidden In A Smoothie
If you want to eat more kale, but you hate the taste, try hiding it in a smoothie! A lot of places are making their them nowadays, but it’s easy to make a kale smoothie at home, too. Add some yogurt, a banana, some berries such as strawberries, blueberries, or açaí berries, kale, and some juice, water or alternative milk to a blender and blend until smooth. Mix and match depending on what’s in your fridge! Smoothies are also a great way to hide dietary supplements in powdered form. Here’s a recipe to check out for a blueberry and kale smoothie: protein supplement optional.
8. In A Frittata
Don’t freak out because frittata sounds fancy. Frittata is just quiche without the crust, which is not only gluten free and fewer calories, but a lot easier to make. I love making frittatas because they are easy to make, easy to reheat, and an awesome way of using vegetables that are on their way out. Plus, if you don’t like an ingredient, such as kale, you can cover it in cheese, hot sauce, and egg. What’s not to love? Here is a recipe for a bell pepper and kale frittata. Make it for breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner.
9. In Soup
Soup is easy to cook, even though it takes a long time, and a great way to eat more kale in your diet. You basically put everything in a pot and wait. You will have to sauté everything for the correct amount of time and in the correct order before adding the liquid, but that’s pretty straightforward. Here is a delicious kale soup recipe to try! Here is a vegetarian kale soup recipe, if that’s more your thing.
10. As Pesto
What better way to eat more kale than to blend it up and serve it over pasta? Kale pesto looks like regular pesto, and tastes just as good, too. You can find prepackaged kale pestos at stores like Trader Joe’s, or you can try this recipe to make your own. Make it vegan by just omitting the parmesan. Enjoy over pasta with sautéd shrimp or vegetables, or both!
How are you going to eat more kale? Share your favorite recipes and preparations below!
Feature Image Source: via Unsplash @poemacollective. https://unsplash.com/photos/GunHGc3Xxu8
Photos: via Unsplash @lauramakoj, via Pexels @alleksana, https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/12874-sauteed-kale, via Unsplash @helenayankovska, @charlesdeluvio, @rpnickson, @sharonchen, @breebuddy, @moniqa, https://cookieandkate.com/super-kale-pesto-recipe/
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