The Novice Nelly: 5 Ways to Eat More Kale

By Lauren Cardarelli on December 1, 2015 , categorized in Plant-based Nutrition

Edit 1st paragraph: Kale: The trendy cruciferous king that has seemingly become the buzzword of choice among foodies. Regardless of whether you go with the curly, dinosaur or ornamental varieties, start by rinsing away any dirt caught in the leaves’ nooks and crannies. Thoroughly pat down with a paper towel to dry before pulling the leaves off the tough stem and stacking on top of one another. What’s next? Depends what you’re craving…

1. Soups:

Often find yourself still hungry post-slurp? I don’t blame you—sometimes broth-y soup simply doesn’t hit the spot. Kale can pack a textured, slightly bitter punch to your bowl of minestrone or chicken stew. Roll up your pile of kale like a burrito, thinly slice and stir a few handfuls-worth into the pot. Let it wilt for a satisfying twist. Oh, and don’t chuck all of those stalks! Roughly chop and add in for a hearty crunch.

2. Smoothies:

Blending kale into a smoothie is one of the easiest ways to hide its flavor, if you’re not the biggest fan. Sweet ingredients like banana, berries, yogurt and protein powder (like Vega Protein & Greens Chocolate Flavor, my go-to!) makes going green easy—and tasty.

One trick I recently discovered? Kale Cubes. Pack shredded kale and a cup of two of ice water into your blender. Blend until liquefied, pour into muffin tins and freeze. Next time you’re looking for a boost of energy, whip up a frozen treat with a few of your pre-portioned kale chunks instead of ice and voila!

3. Salads:

I had a love/hate relationship with homemade kale salads until recently. You see, no matter how hard I tried, the star ingredient always ended up too chewy, too dry. Translation: Nothing like Pinterest promises. Things changed when I discovered baby kale, which has seemingly solidified its spot in most mainstream supermarkets. These tender greens are small in size but offer big, bold flavor and most importantly, hold onto dressing well. Another trick I’ve learned: Getting your hands dirty makes all the difference. Massaging a creamy dressing into the greens (and even letting it sit overnight in the fridge to soak up all of the flavors) is the secret to sweeter, silkier textures.

4. Sautés:

Kale sautéed in coconut oil has become the foundation of most of my meals. Not a bad confession, right? A hearty helping is added to quinoa dishes and homemade pizza. Oh, and don’t even get me started on how wonderfully complementary it can be to squash sides. The best part? It’s so easy. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add in kale, stirring to cook until leaves are slightly wilted. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, etc. and you’re ready to go. Kale yes!

5. Sandwiches:

Freshen up that brown paper bagged lunch by introducing kale to your turkey club or grilled veggie wrap. Use similar techniques as described in salads and sautés above, or blanch by boiling large, de-stemmed bunches for two minutes in a covered pot. Submerge the kale immediately into an ice batch until cool then pat dry or use a salad spinner before subbing it into your sandwich for lettuce. Really want to get wild? Let kale star as the carb alternative altogether. Simply spread hummus or tahini down on the leaves first (works best with dinosaur kale), then layer on alfalfa sprouts, thinly sliced bell pepper, tomatoes, tempeh, etc. before rolling it all up and fastening it together with a toothpick for easy transporting.

How do you love to use kale?

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cooking in the kitchen Kale

Lauren Cardarelli

Lauren is a freelance writer, cycling instructor and the studio director of exhale in Stamford, Conneticut. When she's not on the bike, treadmill or yoga mat, Lauren can be found with her 1-year-old pug, Henry. Favorite things: Chocolate Mint Vega Sport Protein Bar, almond butter, jogs along the Long Island Sound in her beachy hometown and Mizuno running kicks. Lauren is training for her 10th half-marathon…with hopes of tackling the full 26.2 in 2015.

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