Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kale Cravings

Are you eating your Super Foods? 

Like other Brassicas, kale is packed with calcium, lutein, iron, beta-carotene, and Vitamins A, C, and K.  But, according to WebMD, what distinguishes it from its brothers is, "its abundance in phytochemicals, substances associated with the prevention of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension – four of the leading cause of death in Western countries. Phytochemicals are believed to help prevent cell damage, prevent cancer cell replication, and decrease cholesterol levels."

Some people are less than fond of kale, but I'd encourage you to give it a chance. This well-prepared salad may just win you over. 
In fact, lately, I've been having major kale cravings!  Now, before you go thinking I'm a health-crazed nut job, you should know I've also been craving strawberry Fruit Roll-ups.  Anyway, my favorite way lately to satisfy my longing for kale is with this super easy salad.
First, I remove the ribs (and add them to the compost pile -- not even the chickens will eat the kale ribs -- they're just too tough).  Then, I use my herb chopper to chop the kale into pretty small pieces.  If you're a fellow kale lover, you know that it can be pretty tough, so chopping it pretty small is the first step in getting it to a good, salad-ready consistency.

What is step 2, you ask?  Massaging the kale.
Yes, you read that right. 
Listen, Kale is pretty uptight and rigid (especially if it's store-bought -- commercial farmers grow a "sturdier" variety so that it better withstands the rigors of harvest and shipping).  At the end of a long day (or whenever you're ready for salad), it just needs a good massage to help it unwind a bit.  So, I put my chopped kale into a bowl and drizzle it with some olive oil.  Then, I commence the massage.  This is not a job for a spoon -- get your fingers in there and work out all that tension.  You'll be able to see the greens begin to soften. 

Once your salad has been well-massaged, it's ready to get dressed and find it's way to your plate.  To the oil that's already worked in, I add a dribble of lemon juice, pinch of salad, and sprinkling of grated Parmesan (what?  Measurements too vague for you?  Sorry, my friend, but dressing a kale salad is an art not a science, so you'll just have to play with the proportions to find ones that work for you :).

Now, the wonderful thing about kale is that, unlike its cousin Lettuce,  Kale will hold up in this dressed state for days in the refrigerator.  Whenever that craving hits, all I have to do is dump some in a bowl and add a few toppings. 

My current toppings of choice are Craisins and roasted almond pieces.

Now does this pic capture a nice moment, or what?  There I am, stretched out on a picnic blanket after just having finished a muddy, 5-mile trail run (notice the mud smears on the calves), watching the ducks on the water and enjoying my kale salad and the beautiful day -- little slice of heaven right there!

There'll be kale in heaven, right?  And Fruit Roll-Ups?  Let's hope so.  :)

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