Gluten Free - Dairy Free - Refined Sugar Free
Have you ever been that person at a restaurant? You know the one I'm talking about. The pal that asks more than one question about menu options and sounds straight out of a Portlandia episode. I've been that person. I try not to be. I promise! It's just unavoidable at times, especially when you're dealing with autoimmunity, food sensitivities, and/or digestive issues. Let's face it, I'm not alone here.
I was recently at a health conscious restaurant trying to decide between two salads, one of which was their kale salad. When it was my turn to order, I asked if the kale was massaged or not. I felt a bit embarrassed when I asked the question, but I thought I was in good company, being a healthy eatery and all. The server looked confused and said that he'd check with the kitchen. The kitchen was open and exposed, so we witnessed the scene. It went a bit like this; server asks question, line of cooks begin to laugh, server returns and says, "No. The kale salad is not massaged."
5 years ago, I wouldn't have been caught dead asking such a question (nor would I have ever considered ordering kale), but here we are. I asked that question. And knowing the answer to that question made my menu selection a whole lot easier. I did not get the kale salad. Here's why...
Kale is an incredibly hardy, strong leafy green from the cruciferous family. It thrives in colder climates and is by no means a fragile plant. It's hardiness and strength are what make it an incredible powerhouse of nutrients. I like to think that the stronger a plant is in nature, the stronger it is for my body. Kale is no exception to this rule with its vitamin K, A, and C content. It's flush with antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, and anti-inflammatory properties making kale a great option for heart and eye health, cancer protection, and detoxification.
The caveat. In order to get maximum health benefits from kale, the leaves need to be broken down, essentially starting the digestion process before ever consuming. This can be done by steaming, blending, or massaging the leaves. In the case of this salad, massaging the leaves is the method of choice for proper preparation. By slicing the leaves thinly and gently massaging them with an acid base (lemon juice in this case), you make the leaves easier for your body to break down, which in turn makes the plant nutrients more absorbable. This makes it a lot easier for your digestive tract to break down such a hardy plant. By using less energy on the digestive process and starting the breakdown before chewing, you'll reduce any tummy rumbles and reap far more nutritional benefit. As far as I can tell, those are both good things.
This salad is best served with our Maple Tahini Dressing.
Prep time: 15 min.
Makes: 4 large servings
- 1 bunch lacinato/dino kale, sliced thin
- Juice from 1 small lemon wedge
- 2 carrots (purple, if possible), julienned
- 2 tomatoes (yellow or heirloom), chopped
- 1 small watermelon radish, sliced paper thin
- 1 small cucumber, chopped
- 2 – 3 Tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds
- Maple Tahini Dressing – amount desired
- In a large bowl, squeeze lemon juice over thinly sliced kale. Gently massage the kale until it begins to soften and becomes vibrant in color. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Top kale with all remaining ingredients, except the dressing.
- Just before serving, add maple tahini dressing and toss the salad until evenly coated. Start small and add more dressing as needed.
Prep: Make the dressing ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Be sure to remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to serving, so that the oils can soften. Shake well to combine.
Storage: Most salads don’t typically hold well once dressed, however, this one can hold for up to 24 hrs. because kale leaves are so hardy.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below.