Confession #1: Skittles have never been my candy of choice. Plain m&ms, sour patch kids, sno-caps. That’s where it’s at for me. But today we’re talking about a different kind of rainbow of fun flavors. Vibrant green. Bright yellow. Kale salad, people! Let’s get our lunch on.
I’m learning a lot in my nutrition class, which has been equally enlightening and overwhelming. (“Wait, there are how many micronutrients?!”) Thankfully I have also felt reassured that the eating lifestyle (I really dislike the word “diet”) I’ve adopted is in fact as relatively healthy as I have believed it to be. Phew!
I try to live by two mantras: variety and moderation. Eat a variety of foods–in different food groups and different colors–in order to reap the greatest nutritional benefits from my food intake. And, eat everything in moderation. Brownies? Um, of course! In moderation. Which some days, let’s be honest, means three. Hey. I’m human.
Confession #2: Last week was only the second time in my life that I cooked with kale. Now, I recognize that this may not strike you as much of a confession, given that there’s a good chance most of our country has probably never even seen kale. But you see, for better or for worse, I now see things from a new perspective–being surrounded by “food people” all the time really puts on the pressure to know/cook/eat every possible kind of really good for you, or simply just good, food. To know the name of every single great restaurant and the name of its chef. To constantly be ahead of the food curve, wherever that curve may be heading. So, food confessions move from those regarding candy to those regarding kale.
I think, however, that the truly ironic thing about this “confession” is that it’s a stark reminder that I’m actually doing pretty well for myself. The fact that I even consider cooking with kale in the first place puts me well ahead of most Americans. This reminder is quite saddening, and shows just how far we have to go as a country in trying to improve the overall health of our food choices and eating patterns, in order to improve our overall health in general. We simply must choose healthier foods, consume healthier foods, and demand healthier foods. We should know what kale is, because that means we’re actually consuming vegetables. A variety of vegetables. Green leafy tasty vegetables.
So along the lines of practice what you preach, I turned to kale last week thanks to the very good advice shared by a fellow classmate and friend of mine. In just two minutes she told me how to transform kale from a thick, rough, unapproachable green mass to a delicious, soft, full-of-flavor salad. You know I’ve been on a kick to try to find healthy ways to get veggies into my meals in new and interesting ways. (Read: sans typical dinner salad.) Well, this fits the bill! The trick comes in massaging the kale. That’s right, my friends. Massaging the kale.
Kale packages its wealth of nutrients (most notably antioxidants and fiber) in hearty, often tough leaves and stems. In order to make kale more enjoyable to consume, you have to give it a little TLC. Whether you buy it in the form of whole leaves or precut and prepackaged, you simply take some kale and rub it between your fingers and palms for a few minutes until you begin to feel the leaves and stems soften. Or, you can rub it with a good amount of pressure on a cutting board. You can massage the kale for as long as you’d like until it reaches your chosen level of softness. Did you know it was that easy?! (Even you can do this, dad!) And now that we all know this little trick, we can venture out and brave the world of kale together.
This salad is absolutely delicious. The lemon is really fresh and pungent, the goat cheese imparts a rich creaminess that’s just divine, and the pine nuts give it the perfect added texture. And it’s so easy to make. I promise! It comes together quickly and works well as either a side salad or as a light meal. It also saves really well for several days and even gets better with time as the lemon juice and olive oil continue to soften the kale while it sits in your fridge. Magic!
Kale Goat Cheese Salad
Yield: 4 as side salad
3 cups chopped kale
3 oz crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
1. Massage your kale! (whole leaves or chopped)
2. Rinse kale and chop whole leaves if necessary.
3. Put kale in a large bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste and add more seasonings if necessary.
4. Add the goat cheese and pine nuts to the bowl. Stir to combine.