Who says salads are for summer?! Friends, I NEED kale all year round. And here’s the good news, kale is actually considered a winter veggie. fist pump! #Kaleyeah! You might say that I’m a kaleaholic, and I’m ok with that. Some of you may have never even tried kale, and here I am over here all kale obsessed. Well if you haven’t tried this green goddess of a plant, then this a great recipe to try it out. And if you’re a fellow kale lover, you’re in for a real autumn treat!
A lot of people ask me, “but it’s so tough and rough and doesn’t taste good”. For this, I have a perfectly suitable solution. Massage. This is an essential step before diving into any kale salad recipe when you’re eating it raw (which also have many health benefits!) Did I lose you? haha This might have made you chuckle, but seriously- here’s why:
- More nutrients
Locked inside the cell walls of cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens are disease-fighting phytonutrients – the messengers that deliver antioxidants like carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Breaking the cell walls by massaging, chopping, or blending (like with juicing or smoothie-making) will release these antioxidants that heat alone can’t do.
- Easier to eat
Tough, chewy, fibrous leaves, the kind you might encounter with mature kale or collards, can give your jaw muscles quite a workout, and aren’t all that pleasant to eat. Massaging the leaves will soften the fibers and make the leaves easier to chew, whether raw or cooked, as well as making them easier to digest.
- Eating raw kale, which is a cousin to cabbage, can often lead to belly bloat, indigestion and gas. Yikes! So massaging your kale before you put it on your plate nixes these issues, phew!
You don’t have to massage your kale for very long—just about three to five minutes. As you go, you will notice that the leaves change in color, from that bright vibrant green to a deeper green hue. I massage mine right with the dressing or with a little olive oil + salt + lemon juice.
The warm apple cinnamon balsamic dressing is as dreamy as it sounds and is super simple to make. Avoid all those nasty additives in processed dressings and opt to make your own at home with just a few simple ingredients. Some food for thought- sometimes I make my dressing at home and bring it with me to any restaurants I go to (yes… I’m that girl).
The apples give it a nice sweetness, as do the cinnamon cranberry walnut clusters- which by the way are also easy to make. <—– Remember when I said this was a great recipe to try out kale for the first time? As if you need more convincing… this recipe comes together, from massage to table, in just 15 minutes (ooh, now that got me thinking I want a 15 minute massage). Here’s a salute to this green leafy superfood, now go get your kale on.
Autumn Kale Salad with Warm Apple Cinnamon Balsamic + Cranberry Walnut Clusters
- 2 bunches kale (curly kale works best)
- 2 apples (sliced or diced)
- cranberry walnut clusters (see below)
- apple cinnamon balsamic dressing (see below)
Apple Cinnamon Balsamic Dressing
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp oil (walnut, olive, grapeseed, avocado)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp + pinch cinnamon
- pinch salt
Cranberry Walnut Clusters
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp sugar
Wash your kale and tear the leaves from the stem into medium sized pieces. Place in a large bowl
Blend all your dressing ingredients together. You can either warm it in a small sauce pan or in a microwave safe bowl
Cranberry Walnut Clusters
In a medium skillet, melt the sugar over medium heat
** NOTE: be careful as it could burn quickly
Once the sugar starts to liquify, add the cranberries (see notes!) and walnuts, remove from heat, and stir to coat them with the sugar.
Pour the dressing over the kale and with your hands massage the kale with the dressing until the leaves turn soft and a dark green hue (about 3-5 minutes)
**NOTE: remember you warmed it up, so be careful not to burn yourself!
Top the salad with the sliced/diced apples + cranberry walnut clusters
I use EDEN ORGANIC CRANBERRIES because they are sweetened with apple juice as opposed to the loaded with sugary kind you get from the grocery store