How to Massage Kale

by Chrystal Johnson on July 26, 2012

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Kale is the green superfood of the moment, and for good reason. It’s extremely nutritious and is often referred to as the beef of vegans.

Kale is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese.

It also contains sulforaphane, a chemical with strong anti-cancer properties – especially when its chopped or minced. Steaming or stir-frying kale doesn’t result in significant loss of sulforaphane, but boiling does. Kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, which enhances DNA repair in cells, and it may block cancer cell growth. In addition, kale is a good source for carotenoids.

However, kale is very fibrous due to its cellulose structure, and you have to break through that fiber for your body to have full access to kale’s super nutrition. Cooking is one way to make it easier for your body to access the nutrients, but there’s another lesser-known way – massage.

By massaging your kale, it essentially starts digesting before you eat it so your body doesn’t have to work so hard to access the nutrients. It also improves the taste and texture of kale. It won’t be as bitter or tough if you massage it before eating it.

Massaging kale is a very simple process as well.

  1. Wash your kale thoroughly, dry it and remove the tough center stems. I like to use a salad spinner after removing the stems.
  2. Tear or chop your kale into bite-sized pieces and place them in a bowl.
  3. Add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice (you can substitute vinegar, preferably Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar) and about ½ teaspoon of sea salt (optional) to the kale and mix thoroughly. You can also add a teaspoon of olive oil or ¼ of an avocado to the bowl.
  4. Then start massaging. Rub the leaves together and really work all of the ingredients together. You should massage the kale for at least 5 minutes. It will wilt significantly (by 1/3 to ½) and the color will change.
  5. Now your kale is tender and ready to be used in a salad. Sometimes I even massage it before adding it to a stir fry as well so I can just toss it in as the very end and just get it warm.

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