Without further delay I reintroduce to you, KALE! Since moving back to Arizona and in a life transition, I have been frequenting more restaurants. Restaurants can be tricky in that you really don’t know the nutritional content of your food. Not wanting to sacrifice all of this hard work I’ve put into transforming my body to its current state, I chose kale. Just about every lunch outing at work I choose kale. Eating at a brew pub, I choose kale. Salad bar at Whole Foods, I choose kale. Choosing kale wasn’t always easy. I didn’t even know of its existence before going raw vegan overnight and I certainly wasn’t excited about this green stuff in my life. I remember when I first started out buying this weird leafy green vegetable and drinking it for breakfast. It wasn’t bad if you threw just a few leaves in…and added fresh lemon juice…and some strawberries. Let’s fast forward to today, 5 years after going raw vegan overnight which I maintained for nearly half a year, transitioning through veganism, ovo-vegetarian and finally…my own educated understanding of food. Now I am blending a liter of smoothies every other day that contains 1.5 large bunches of kale. I limit my processed foods to as few as possible, I am conscious of my sugar intake, I don’t crave or eat meat very often and I cram as many leafy greens into my day as possible. I didn’t believe it when the raw vegan/green smoothie proponents said you’d get used to the taste of all the greens, yet here we are, talking about KALE. I’ll save the ridiculous list of health benefits for future posts, but here’s the hizzap for the readers:
- What’s Happening? I’m going to start sharing my Kale Salad experiences in the Phoenix area until I find the absolute best one ever. I’m not talking about kale doused in Caesar dressing, I’m talking fresh, cool, unique, healthy and insanely delicious. Something even non-kale eaters will love.
- Why? Why not? I’m not quite in the groove with my own kitchen and recipes, yet I’d love to get this blog back to the interwebs. I married my quirkiness with kale salad and Kale Yeah was born.
- Seriously, why? Kale is an insane superfood, we all know that. We’ve all been exposed to boxes of kale chips, Costco kale salad in a bag, kale at McDonald’s, etc. The Valley is an amazing food mecca and if kale is going to be on the menu, then I’m going to order the crap out of it and tell you all about it.
- Inception. After nearly a dozen unique kale salads I decided to start this journey with the one that I thought was the best so far. I’ll revisit all of the old places – but I wanted to start with a bang! I’ll go over the good and the ‘iffy’ of the salad and in due time the clear winner will emerge.
FOUR PEAKS BREWING COMPANY | Tempe, AZ
- The Good
- Their Kale Salad is fantastic! It has bacon, sweet corn, bing cherries, gorgonzola and balsamic dressing. The crunchiness of the kale and corn marries the chewy cherries and bacon so nicely. The tangy sweetness of the balsamic and the saltiness of the cheese tops off this bad boy and leaves your mouth so happy. It’s huge to boot! If I can enjoy a nice pint of Odelay AND get some greens in, I call this a major win.
- The Iffy
- There’s a lot of dressing, cheese and cherries. While delicious, it does add a potentially large amount of fat and sugar.
- 9/10 – the ratio of kale to fat/sugar in this salad could be better while maintaining fabulous flavor. So far though, it’s my top choice.
I’d really like to thank Bad Pickle Tees for my new ‘uniform.’ I saw this shirt and knew it had to go on this journey with me. I hope dear reader you stick around too!
I’m trying to find more ways to sneak healthy greens into everyday foods other than the cooked way. I am just not a fan of warm squishy greens – but more power to you if you do! For those of you who need a boat load of sauce or dominant flavoring I think you’ll be more than surprised at this awesome pasta salad. The kale is actually a pleasant addition to one of my favorite ‘salad’ flavors – Caprese and it’s dairy-free too.
Kaleprese Pasta Salad
- 1 12 oz. package cooked gluten-free pasta (brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
- 10 oz. grape tomatoes, diced
- 1/8 tsp pink salt
- 2 T basil, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dino/tuscan kale (~3 leaves)
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder, optional
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic (save 1/2 tsp finely minced)
- 3 T fresh lemon juice (~1/2+ lemon) white balsamic vinegar might be ok here
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and cooled (350° for 10 mins – flip 1/2 way)
- 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 cup basil
- 1/4 tsp raw honey, optional
- Optional: mozzarella or parmesan
- It’s easy to cook the pasta while making the rest of the salad, or you can make in advance.
- In a bowl mix the tomatoes, salt, and 2 T basil. Allow to sit and drain before adding to pasta.
- In another bowl mix kale, garlic powder (if using) and 1 T olive oil. Massage kale with oil until softened.
- In a blender combine garlic, lemon juice, walnuts, 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil (enough to cover the blades), thyme, red pepper flakes, white pepper, honey and basil. Blend until almost smooth and all ingredients are well blended.
- Pour the dressing onto the pasta and mix, then add the kale, remaining garlic and tomatoes. Mix well and cool before serving.
- Optional: add mozzarella or parmesan.
Check out this other kale salad recipe and learn more about this awesome veggie! You can also try other veggies like arugula, spinach, dandelion greens or chard. Why stop there? Add green beans, peas, broccoli – anything you like! This is one easy way to enjoy eating your vegetables.
- 2 cups of cranberries
- 1 bunch of grapes
- 2-5 persimmons, chopped
- 1 pomegranate
- citrus; i.e. 5 clementines or 1 navel orange
- a little bit of orange zest (zest before you peel!)
- 1/2-1 bunch of fresh mint
- 2 T of minced onion
- Pulse the cranberries in the food processor a couple of times. Add the persimmons, sliced citrus and grapes (not too much, you want everything chopped).
- Add the onion, mint, and zest. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two or eat it right away.
It is so delicious and fresh, PLUS I got to eat a persimmon for the first time! It went perfectly with our chicken and is fantastic by itself. I love the cranberries and mint with the onion, it just harmonizes wonderfully.
I’m orange, look like a tomato, and am not scary! I’m a persimmon! At least, that’s what my thoughts were every time I saw one and didn’t buy it. And as for the pomegranate, I knew the inside was delicious, but I just never bought it. Nonetheless I think most people would consider them ‘weird foods’, so here they are demystified.
A runner-up in The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth there are a few varieties of persimmons. I think the one above is a Fuyu non-astringent, and tastes like a chewy papaya. Very easy to cut, like a firm solid tomato without the seeds. Don’t worry about the types, just make sure to ask your friendly produce manager!
There have been studies showing; persimmons lower blood fats, which affect cholesterol levels, and showing the potent antioxidant properties. It contains potassium, manganese, magnesium and iron.
Of course it’s in 150 Healthiest Foods… because pomegranates are cool! One caution: it’ll stain your cutting board for a bit! It was really easy to cut and the seeds pop out easily but you will spend a few minutes harvesting them. Pomegranate juice has been shown to fight heart disease and cancer as well as slowing the aging process and promoting cardiovascular health. Go on-Get weird!