It’s almost two weeks into the New Year, and this is about the time that New Year’s resolutions begin to go south. You made a resolution to work out five times a week, but you got busy one day and skipped a workout; “I’ll make it up in the morning”, you tell yourself, but next thing you know three days have gone by and you haven’t gone back to the gym yet. Or you made a promise to yourself to eat healthier, eat more fruits & vegetables, and eat less junk; you only get one body after all, treat it like it deserves! But you gave in to a couple slices of pizza while out with your friends, or a couple cookies after dinner, or you went to brunch and just had to order some French toast (my personal weakness). Any of this sound familiar?
Well, it doesn’t have to be. Of course it’s alright to give in once in a while, I know I’d go crazy if I didn’t, but as long as you find the strength and motivation to reset yourself back on track, your little slip-up will become just a blip in the radar. There are some things you can do to help the process. If your resolution was to eat healthier this new year, then variety in your diet is your best tool, and my Asian Kale Salad is just the thing to help you stay on track.
Kale, or as I know it, Brassica oleracea. It’s been all the rage in the past couple years, article after article describing its health benefits and Pinterest posts telling you how to eat it out of a mason jar. Unlike some fads, however, kale is deserving of all this attention: it’s a great source of more than a dozen different vitamins and minerals (more specifically, vitamins A, C, K, B6, and E, plus folate, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, iron, and calcium). Some people, however, just cannot get over the taste and texture. Despite all it’s benefits, kale can often come off as tasting bitter and an off-putting texture. Thanks to some ingenuity and a little bit of TLC, however, this can be overcome.
Kale has lots and lots of a compound called cellulose. Cellulose is a very large molecule that is composed of many repeating units of glucose, a type of sugar, and is one of the primary components that gives plants their structure (more specifically, cellulose is a primary component of a plant cell’s cell wall). Specifically for kale, cellulose is the reason for its bitterness and texture. We can combat this by treating our kale to a little massage. Yes, you read that right.
Giving your kale massage is simple and, in my opinion, kind of fun. You see, the breakdown of cellulose into its individual glucose units, a process known as cellulysis, is significantly sped up when adding an ionic liquid, or a liquid high in ions. Such an ionic liquid can easily be put together simply by dissolving a pinch of table salt in a tablespoon of water; table salt, after all, is just sodium chloride, and upon dissolving it in water will become sodium and chloride ions. Massaging your kale in just a tablespoon of salt water will change the look of your kale before your eyes, even just after 20 seconds. Plus, the bitterness will lessen and the texture will be much softer and far more pleasant to eat. Rejoice!
My favorite way to dress up massaged kale is with a little Asian flare. This salad is packed with veggies, plus protein from the edamame helps to keep me full. My favorite part is the sesame dressing, which I could eat by the spoonful if I could (and, guilty as charged, I have).
Enjoy in good health, and stay strong!