You don't have to get too deep into the foodie scene to know that kale has been the starring craze of nutrition enthusiasts for a while now. With the abundance of nutrients packed into this intensely colored green, it's easy to understand how this humble member hailing from the Brassica family gained its popularity. Speaking of nutrition, have you ever looked at all the amazing health benefits of kale? It's kind of ridiculous. Kale is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, anti-inflammatory properties, iron, calcium, and the list goes on. Not only is it richly abundant in nutrients, but it is very economical, making it a great vegetable to indulge in often.
However, before you start eating kale often, you need to be cautioned about one thing. With the intention of obtaining the most nutrients possible, many are eating raw kale daily, whether it be in their salads, smoothies, sandwiches, etc. But I believe there to be problem with this. Among the army of nutrients residing in kale, there are also harmful goitrogenic substances and oxalic acid that needs to be neutralized before consumption. Please understand that I am not a nutritionist, but after researching, I have found that failing to lightly cook kale before consumption can actually inhibit nutrient absorption. All of those great nutrients we just talked about are not being optimized to the extent that they should be. I don't know about you, but I was thrilled to find this out, as I'm not much of a proponent of raw kale salads in the first place. If you have a deep attachment to raw kale and absolutely cannot go without eating it in its raw form, try to limit your consumption of it as much as possible, eating it raw only sparingly. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.
From the moment I started forming this salad in my mind, I knew I wanted it to include enzyme-rich sprouted sunflower seeds. As you can see, my sprouts didn't grow particularly long, but had they been given another day or so, the sprouts would have been more noticeable. Sprouting is something everyone should get into, when you consider the payoff of this super simple practice. Most grains and seeds contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that, similarly to the oxalic acid in kale, needs to be broken down before consumption. There are two ways to do this. The first is sprouting, which I will further explain here. The second is soaking, which I will get deeper into in future posts. For now, I thought it would be nice to include a do-it-yourself intro to sprouting, so here is a general guide to get you started:
Basic Sprouting Method
What You Will Need:
-Glass Mason Jars with Rings (generally quart size for grains, pint size for small seeds)
-Seeds/Grains to sprout
- Place the seeds or grains in the jar and fill with water. Let sit for about a minute.
- Cut a piece of cheese cloth that will overlap the opening of your jar by half an inch. Place on top of jar and secure in place with ring
- Turn jar upside down and drain excess water in sink. Repeat this rinse 2-3 times daily until sprouts appear.
The list of things you can sprout goes on and on, ranging from almonds to sesame seeds. Above all, have fun experimenting with it!
Without further adieu, I am pleased to present the star of today's post. Warm, slightly-wilted kale is accompanied by sizzling pan-roasted sweet potatoes, mouth-watering crispy shallots, sweet succulent black grapes, and enzyme-rich sprouted sunflower seeds, all adorned with a tangy lemon-dijon vinaigrette. When I first made this salad in preparation of the photo-shoot, I was so lost in the enticing gustatory sensations upon each bite, that before I knew it, I had eaten the whole thing. It is seriously delicious.
Warm Kale Salad with Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette
Makes enough for two servings as a side dish
Juice of half a large lemon (1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together until combined. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
1 small sweet potato, cut into small cubes
2 cups loosely-packed torn kale leaves (I used Red and Tuscan kale)
Handful of black grapes, sliced in half length-wise
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil over medium heat. Add the sweet potato cubes and saute until lightly browned and crisp (I found that I needed to add more oil as the potatoes cooked due to their absorption of the oil).
- Once potatoes are nearly done and showing dark marks, add the shallot and just enough oil to crisp the shallots (about a teaspoon). Let cook several minutes longer, until shallots are crisp.
- Add the grapes and kale; shake or stir the pan until evenly distributed. Continue to stir for about a minute, until kale is just beginning to wilt. Add desired amount of dressing and salt and pepper to the pan. Serve immediately.
Love and Best of Health,