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Massaged Kale Salad – The Real Food Dietitians


Salads aren’t just for summer! This Massaged Kale salad featuring hearty winter veggies will put a little sunshine into even the darkest days.

Kale yeah you can eat salad in the winter!

If you thought salads were only reserved for summer and all its fresh veggie glory, then you haven’t tried a massaged kale salad yet.

I know, I know, kale is hard to chew. I’ll be the first to agree that it’s a serious leafy green that can be a little bitter and takes a long time to chew when it’s served raw. But in this massaged kale salad, the hearty (and very chewy) kale greens get a rubdown with a little sea salt to make them sweeter, easier to chew and more digestible. The massaging part even lets you work out some frustrations and work on those forearms.

Massaging the kale leaves with a bit of sea salt essentially pre-digests the kale a bit through the application of mechanical force (provided by your hands) and the salt which draws water from the cells of the kale making the kale softer and easier to chew and thus easier to digest. As a rule, if it’s easier to chew (and the more thoroughly you chew), the easier it will be to digest.

Winter salads for. the. win.

Not only are winter salads like this massaged kale salad delicious, but they’re also super versatile, economical, and highly nutritious. They’re also really easy to customize with what you’ve got on hand. Leftover roasted beets? Toss ’em in there. Pears? They’re a great substitute for apples. Got cashews but not pepitas? Those will work, too.


A little of this and a little of that.

For this salad, I used some shredded Brussels spouts to give it a little color and another texture and to use up the last few Brussels sprouts knocking around in my crisper drawer after making this Sweet & Smoky Brussels Slaw that has become a staple in my house. If you don’t have any shredded Brussels (or Brussels to shred), don’t sweat it. You can substitute extra kale for the Brussels and it’s still fabulous.

Remember, the name of this game is to be flexible and use what you have on hand or what you like in this massaged kale salad. I’ll often toss the massaged kale with hemp hearts, halved cherry tomatoes and a generous pinch of freshly grated parmesan for a super easy side dish for grilled meat or fish, or sometimes I stir in a little cooked brown rice or quinoa if I want a heartier side dish.

Packs well for lunch on the go.

Because kale is such a hearty green this salad holds up well for several days in the fridge even after you’ve dressed it with the olive oil and vinegar, making it perfect for lunchboxes or leftovers.

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Let’s Get Cookin’

Massaged Kale Salad

In this massaged kale salad the hearty (and very chewy) kale greens get a rubdown with sea salt to make them sweeter, easier to chew and more digestible. Feel free to use any combination of vegetables, nuts, and seeds you like.

  • Author: Jessica Beacom
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x
  • Category: Salads & Sides


  • 1 large bunch curly green or red kale, washed and patted dry, tough stems removed (about 5 cups)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 medium apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned or cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 cup shredded Brussels sprouts (may substitute with an additional 2 cups kale) 
  • ¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries 
  • 3 Tbsp. roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. roasted sunflower seeds
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Optional – 1/3 cup feta, goat or parmesan cheese (omit for vegan, dairy-free & Whole30)


  1. Get out a big bowl. Tear the washed kale into bite-sized pieces and toss into the bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  2. Massage the kale. Really get into it. Continue to massage the leaves with the salt until they start to soften and wilt a bit.
  3. Combine the oil, vinegar, and black pepper and set aside. Do not add extra salt, there’s plenty on the kale already. Toss remaining ingredients (apple through sunflower seeds) into kale.
  4. Drizzle with oil and vinegar dressing, toss to combine and serve.


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  • Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
  • Calories: 256
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Sodium: 235mg
  • Fat: 13g
  • Carbohydrates: 28g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 7g

Are you a kale lover? What’s your favorite way to prepare this super healthy green leafy vegetable? Please share in the comments below.

Pin it now & make it later!

Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Jess of Plays Well with Butter

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.

About Jessica Beacom

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her hubby and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘real food evangelist’ and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them break free of the diet mentality and find their own food freedom. In her spare time she enjoys CrossFit, telemark skiing, mountain biking, teaching herself how to play the banjo and camping out under the stars.


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