Why Your Kale Needs a Massage

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

As it turns out, humans aren’t the only ones in this world who love a good massage — kale (Tuscan cabbage) does too. Massaging kale when making a salad, kale chips, or any other raw kale dish can help to more evenly distribute the flavor and can help to make the kale less bitter, less tough and for some, easier to digest. The thought of massaging kale may be overwhelming, but the process is extremely easy. I used simple olive oil when massaging the kale for this post, but you can use a combination of oil and lemon, another type of salad dressing or even avocado.

Follow these 7 easy steps for massaging and serving kale:

Step 1: Cut the kale off the stem.
Using a knife, cut the kale into 1-2” squares or pieces, separating the kale from the stem.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 2: Wash the kale.
Wash the kale well! It’s got loads of cracks and crevasses that dirt can get stuck in and if it’s not organic you’ll want to wash away those pesticides.

Step 3

Step 3: Dry the kale.
Drying the kale is perhaps one of the most important parts when it comes to success with the kale massage. In order for the oil, dressing, or avocado to stick well to the kale leaves, the leaves must be dry. I like to use a clean dishtowel to do this because I find that the dishtowel is better to remove all of the moisture than a paper towel. You can also use a salad spinner followed by a dishtowel if you prefer.

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Step 4: Put the kale in a bowl and add the oil, salad dressing or avocado.
 The amount you add will be dependent on how large the serving, but my general rule of thumb is as follows:

  • ½ avocado mashed for 2-3 servings; 1 whole avocado for 4-5 servings
  • 2-3 tbsp oil or dressing for 2-3 servings; 4-5 tbsp for 4-5 servings (Here I made the serving for 1 so I used about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil)

Step 5

Step 5: Roll up your sleeves and start massaging.
You can do it for as long as you like, but the recommended amount is about 1 – 2 minutes or so (more time for larger batches). When massaging the kale, work it in between your fingers, sort of like you would when washing your hair.

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Step 6: Add extra toppings.
Here I added a dash of salt and pepper as well as 1 tbsp goji berries and a very small handful of walnuts. It’s like making our Hail to Kale Salad! Enjoy!

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Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Isabel is a Registered Dietitian, wellness expert and fitness coach. Isabel has her own nutrition and wellness practice based in New York City, Isabel Smith Nutrition, but she works with clients and corporations both nationwide and worldwide in a variety of areas including skin health, weight loss, gastrointestinal issues and allergies, sports nutrition, general wellness and more. As a Guided Reboot coach, Isabel has helped hundreds juice their way to better health. When she isn’t helping clients achieve optimal nutrition and wellness, she can be found trying and creating new juices and making other healthy recipes, running, cooking, spinning, practicing yoga, and enjoying time with her two Yorkshire terriers. Isabel is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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