Frosted gingerbread cookies. Thick eggnog spiked with booze. Meaty drumsticks. Gravy. Butter. Carbs. More butter. Ah, the holidays.
We love winter feasting, but we also love not passing out face-first into a dish of cheese. What is life without balance? It’s tired and bloated and none of its clothes fit. Hanukkah Harry brought me an extra chin? No bueno. So, to make it through the new year — without having to buy larger pants or get a vitamin B injection — allow us to make a one-word suggestion: kale.
You heard us. Kale. Because in the dead of winter, it seems like the only vegetables we see are starchy tubers buried at the bottom of a casserole dish under a sticky mound of marshmallows. Oy vey. But even though the trees outside are bare, it’s easy to get some greenery in the produce section if you make a beeline for Kaleville. Hear us out.
A member of the cabbage family, kale is hearty as hell, which is why it’s the last one standing when relegated to a garnish on platters. (For shame!) But kale grows late into the winter and was even encouraged as a wartime crop because it was so damn healthy and easy to grow. It’s high in calcium and potassium, plus vitamins K, A and C — and unless you want to sneeze your way through the season, these are all great vitamins to ward off the winter bugs. Also, kale has anticancer properties and can lower cholesterol — something another serving of canned ham probably cannot do. Low in calories and high in fiber, it’ll detox your system. Translation: Your pants won’t feel as tight.
So, you’re sold; you’re pro-kale. Now how in the hell do you eat it? It’s easy to prepare, and to prove it, we rounded up our favorite ways to eat kale.
Massaged Kale Salad (pictured above)
Raw kale goes from leathery and stiff to soft and tasty with a good acidic dressing to break it down and a little TLC — yep, massage that kale and it’ll be even sweeter and nicer, just like a person. We love Aarti Sequeira’s massaged kale salad recipe, which has plenty of zip with lemon juice but a nice sweetness with honey and mango, plus a great crunch with pumpkin seeds. This — this is the salad that can forever change salad haters!
News bulletin: Roasted kale forms crispy chips that are approximately one million times better for you than nachos. And Lisa Lillien — aka Hungry Girl — knows how to battle cravings. A little oil, sea salt and dry heat, and kale becomes crisp, crunchy and, yes, addictive. No joke.
Carbs got you down? Or rather, up (in the pounds department)? Cutting carbohydrates can help drop some of that hibernation weight. Before you wince and refuse, remember: Bacon doesn’t have carbs. Cheese? Low carb. Bobby Deen’s frittata packs plenty of healthy protein to stave off the holiday munchies, and delivers a flavor bonanza with Jarlsberg cheese, bacon, tomatoes and, yep, some kale for texture and fiber. Breakfast of champions, for real.
If you’re into softer veggie textures, slowly merge onto the Great Kale Highway with this wonderful braised recipe. Of course, Emeril kicks it up his legendary notch with some crushed red pepper. Kale wears acid and spice really well, so don’t assume healthy means boring. How dare you!
And this is the best DEFCON 1, get-vegetables-in-me, ham death-prevention tactic: a green smoothie. Before you gag, listen up: There’s kale in here, yes, but it’s accompanied by grapes and apples and some nice tart lemon. So this is a sweet, refreshing, detoxing present that you give both your mouth and your stomach. We dare you to go make this right now and if you leave a comment saying you hated it, we’ll mail you a cheeseburger. No we won’t.
Last, here’s a great video touting all those benefits of kale with a handy, quick guide on how to cut it up! Okay, darlings, take two of these recipes and kale us in the morning.
Happy, healthy new year,
Alie & Georgia