Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sick of lettuce? Try Kale Salad!

This salad packs well and is an easy meal prep on a weekend for salads during the week.  Make a bigger batch for more leftovers.

Why kale?

Kale is a delicious, hearty green with loads of nutrients.  Notably, it is chocked full of Vitamin A (important in vision and bone growth), Vitamin K (important in blood clotting and bone metabolism), and Vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant, important component for chemical reactions in your body, and vital part of maintenance and synthesis within the body).  It has a glycemic load of 3, therefore it doesn't spike your blood sugar.  It is a strong anti-inflammatory based upon its fatty acids, glycemic load, and antioxidant content.

What makes Kale Salad special?

Raw kale is nutrient dense.  Vitamins like Vitamin C degrade through cooking and the application of heat.  Raw kale has more available Vitamin C.  Studies looking at the nutrient properties of plants in the same genus as kale (Brassica vegetables or cabbages) also has more of the anti-inflammatory molecule called sulforaphane when raw.  Sulforaphane is important for reducing inflammation, such as in the respiratory system to alleviate asthma and other respiratory ailments, and has been found to inhibit cancer cell growth.  When raw, the absorption of this important molecule is faster than when cooked.

Vitamin K and Vitamin A are fat soluble, meaning if you have fat along with a food source rich with these vitamins, you get more of that vitamin out of the food.   Kale Salad incorporates olive oil which frees up these vitamins.

Olive oil itself is beneficial in many ways.  As a monounsaturated fat it can reduce the total and low-density (LDL) cholesterol levels in your blood.  Extra virgin olive oils are less processed and have the highest levels of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant.  There is also evidence that olive oil plays a role in blood sugar and blood pressure reduction, omega fat balance, and protection against heart attack and stroke.

Nuts are fat and nutrient powerhouses.  As a food storage system for a growing plant embryo, nuts are nutrient dense.  As omega 3 sources, they help balance your fatty acids and can lower LDL concentration.  They have a low glycemic index and possess vitamins E, F, and G as well as many important minerals.  However, they aren't a viable protein source, but we'll get into that in another post.

So let's put it all together.

Kale Salad
(inspired by Caveman Food's Relaxed Kale)
Makes enough for 2 with some leftovers (depending upon gluttony)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes, then let sit to meld flavors

1 bunch of kale, greens cut from the stem and torn into pieces
1.5 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt

2 T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp raw honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard

After preparing and washing the kale, add the olive oil and salt and massage the kale for 5-7 minutes (yes, with your hands, yes the salt hurts cuts, and yes, it takes a little time) until it reduces in size and feels more pliable.  In another bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together to incorporate.  Add dressing and toss to coat the kale.  At this point, you can place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for a week (actually improves over time).

To serve:
(NOTE: don't add these items until you are ready to eat because they will deteriorate with time)

Add a handful of chopped nuts like walnuts or almonds, preferably roasted (place on a baking sheet while you preheat the oven for another meal and toss every once and a while to brown or place in a skillet and roast stovetop until brown--just be careful not to burn them!).

Add a meat choice.  Ours is usually seared steak (see recipe to follow), but you can add any type of meat.  Bite-sized is the most easily eaten.

Add a tart apple for the sweet-sour approach that works well with the strong flavors of the kale, vinegar, and mustard.

To make this Zone, you will probably need more carbohydrate choices since kale is 3.2 cups raw per block of carbohydrate.  The honey adds 2 blocks for the whole salad.  An apple also adds 2 blocks of carbohydrate.  The olive oil and nuts make this a fat heavy meal, but delicious and healthy nonetheless.  Cooking your meat on the grill or seared without fat on the stove will allow you more fat leeway for this portion of your meal.

Image copyright:
© 2006 Classroom Clipart/Photocatalogs. All rights reserved.

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