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Mexican Kale Salad – A Great Way to Get Your Greens!

By Kelsie White

Mexican Kale Salad – A Great Way to Get Your Greens!

Nutrition Bites | Week 8

This week on Nutrition Bites, I am going to highlight a recipe for kale salad. This particular salad has Mexican-style flavors and is such a great way to consume more dark green leafy vegetables. I am also going to share some tips of how best to prepare kale, as well as other ways to use it and some of the health benefits of consuming it. Let’s dig in!

Mexican Kale Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • Bunch of kale, washed and chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and prepare all veggies.
  2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small mason jar and shake well.
  3. Add kale to a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Massage with your fingers until kale darkens in color and becomes soft.
  4. Add all veggies into bowl and toss with salad dressing.
How to Prepare Kale

One of the secrets to making a good kale salad is used in this recipe: massaging the kale with olive oil. This simple action can really help to transform the salad into something that is much more palatable. Doing so really helps to soften the kale so that it isn’t so tough, making it more enjoyable. Here are the steps in more detail:

  • Wash leaves thoroughly
  • Remove the leaves from the stems
  • Chop or tear with your hands or scissors into smaller pieces
  • Add a drizzle of olive or avocado oil
  • Massage the kale gently with your hands for a few minutes, or until the leaves are noticeably softer

And that is all there is to it! I highly recommend using this technique, especially when you are preparing your salads with curly kale. Additionally, you can also use different types of kale that are much softer, such as baby kale, dinosaur kale and Chinese kale.

Other Ways to Use Kale

If kale salads still aren’t for you, no need to worry, there are still many ways to incorporate this amazing veggie into your diet. Some ideas are to add it to soups, sauté it in olive oil, blend it into smoothies, add it to a tofu scramble, blend it into a jar of spaghetti sauce, make kale chips or even make a kale pesto.

Benefits of Dark Leafy Greens

The reason I am sharing so many tips and ideas for kale is that it really is a very nutritious vegetable. Some of the nutritional characteristics of kale are that it is a great source of insoluble fiber, it provides many vitamins such as A, B, C, E and K as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron. It is low in calories and also low on the glycemic index, making it a great part of a diet if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. The good news is that many of these characteristics are found in other dark leafy greens, so there are other options if kale is not your favorite. Other options include spinach, bok choy, arugula, salad greens, mustard greens and Swiss chard.

All About Nitrate

Dark green leafy vegetables have been associated with lower blood pressure. This is because these veggies contain a compound known as nitrate. Once we eat these nitrate-containing greens, the bacteria in our mouth and stomach convert that nitrate into another compound called nitrite. Once nitrite reaches the blood and tissues, it is then converted into another compound called nitric oxide, and this is the compound that specifically helps to decrease blood pressure by dilating or widening the blood vessels. For more information on this topic, check out our article here.

Weekly Challenge 

Now that you know a little bit more about this superfood, both the health benefits and some ways to prepare it, I want to challenge you to aim to try one new dark green leafy vegetable that you haven’t had before. Who knows, you might just find your new favorite!

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