We’ve all had that one friend from high school or college who’s a bit of a pain the first time you meet them. Annoying, obnoxious, maybe even a bit of a bully. Yeah, you know that person.
But then something crazy happens. You have an unexpected bonding moment. You share a laugh or an inside joke. And this annoying obnoxious person suddenly becomes your closest friend, even decades later.
Well, kale is THAT friend. And this salad is THAT bonding moment.
It’s true! In fact, I will go as far as saying this salad will change the way you look at kale FOREVER.
This kale salad is like the little black dress of salads. Dress it up, dress it down. Treat it like the main event, or a sexy side. Make it for a cocktail party, or a school BBQ. This salad is a classic, and will surprise both the kale-lovers and cynics in your life.
Don’t believe me?
Take it from my kale-hating friend who now texts me pics of her kale salad remains along with the caption “#winning.”
Or the longtime kale fan who found this recipe “life-changing!”
Or the kids who’d clamber to make this salad anytime it was on the menu at their school’s food lab program. BTW, kids LOVE making this salad – you’ll see why below.
Or, from the lady who approached me at a wedding in Ireland last summer – just to share how often she now makes this salad (…ever since I made it at a BBQ six years ago)!
And then there’s my mom who asks me for the recipe once every 6 months, even though, “Hi mom, it’s in your emails! Love you.”
This recipe is for you, if you’ve never had kale before and want to know what the big deal is. It’s for you, if you’ve had kale before and were traumatized by the experience. It’s for you, if you LOVE kale, and can’t get enough of it. And it’s especially for you, mom.
Why I’m hooked on this recipe (and you will be, too!)
- Basic: Only needs 4 ingredients (kale, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and lemon) and 10 minutes to throw together. The rest of the ingredients are extra.
- Delicious: The secret to life-changing kale? Massage it with your hands! Yup – with olive oil and sea salt, you give your kale the spa treatment it deserves; taking it from tough guy to softie in a matter of minutes. Scientifically, massaging it breaks down the kale’s cell walls, making it tender, flavorful and a dream to eat (massaging is also incredibly therapeutic – which might explain why kids love making it too!).
- Timeless: Make it all year long, and dress it up according to season and your preferred toppings. In the summer, I keep it light, with avocado, mango, berries or stone-fruit. In the winter or fall, I add roasted butternut squash, beets, walnuts, pomegranate or cooked quinoa. I’ve included some variations in the recipe notes, but the one in the picture has cooked quinoa, sliced mandarins, and pumpkin seeds.
Plus, it makes kale a rare treat!
Kale is a dark leafy green veggie from the Brassica or cabbage family (also called cruciferous). Like others from this family, kale is excellent for liver health. It not only has significant cholesterol-lowering abilities, but also contains anticancer “glucosinolates” that help break down and excrete toxic metabolites from the body. Kale is also rich in immune-boosting and antioxidant nutrients like vitamins A & C, as well as anti-inflammatory ones like vitamin K.
If you haven’t ventured into the kale camp yet, this recipe will ease you in. Go nuts with it, make it your own, and don’t forget to tag me if you try it! xo
The best damn kale salad
This is my basic recipe for raw kale salad involving 4 ingredients and less than 10 minutes. Check out the variations in the notes for optional toppings. I first discovered the massaging technique in 2011 thanks to this recipe: http://happyfoody.com/2008/02/12/raw-kale-avocado-salad. I've made a few minor tweaks, but you can refer to this recipe for further inspiration.
- 1 bunch kale (any variety)
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (not table salt)
- 1/2 lemon or lime (juiced)
Thoroughly wash and dry the kale, then separate the tough stalks from the leaves. I do this by tearing the leaves off. Keep the stalks for another recipe or to use in homemade stock.
Chop the leaves into bite size pieces, then place in a large bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.
Get your hands in there and massage the leaves for about a minute. By the way, this is great to do with kids!The leaves with reduce (almost by half) when you massage them. You'll notice the kale starting to glisten and break down, and your fingers might even look a little green (due to the chlorophyll). This means it’s working!
Now, add the lemon or lime juice and continue to toss gently with your hands.
Taste it, and add a bit more salt or lemon/lime juice. It should taste pretty good.
Add optional toppings (listed below), or eat immediately (I dare you to stop)! This kale salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Start with 1/4 tsp sea salt and add more if needed (for flavor).
If you're adding a lot of toppings, you may need more lemon/lime/other citrus juice for acidity (otherwise the kale can taste a little flat).
Optional topping ideas:
- 1/2 cup blueberries + 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds + 1/2 cup walnuts (or other nuts)
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa + 1 cup cooked chickpeas + 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 chopped mango + 1 cup cooked beetroot + 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or other seeds)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes + 1/2 avocado (mash this in with your hands) + 1/4 cup chopped almonds.
- 1/2 cup caramelized onions + 1 cup roasted butternut squash + 1/4 cup chopped dates
Last week, I shared my favorite recipe for almond milk. She’s simple, quick and nourishing AF. Yes, my homemade almond milk recipe goes by “she.” My obsession is real, people. She’s outlasted all my romantic relationships, and will always have a soft spot in my heart.
So it was a surprise when homemade cashew milk came along. A dear friend casually mentioned it five years ago over WhatsApp, and I was like, “what is this crazy talk?”
And yet, there it was – homemade cashew milk. Even simpler than almond milk, quicker, and dare I say, creamier too. A cashew milk that I now make once a week as a base for smoothies, cereals, pasta sauces, chia puddings, or straight up drink plain.
Because of how straightforward this recipe is, you don’t need a lot of advanced planning.
All you need is:
- raw cashews
- a blender (high-speed is preferable, but optional).
- 30 minutes of soaking and 1 minute of blending.
You don’t need to peel or strain anything either – it’s the ultimate low-maintenance recipe!
Plus, cashews come in a pretty sweet package nutritionally. Check it out in the table below.
Nutrition in 1/4 cup of raw cashews:
|Protein||5.9 g||A reasonable range of amino acids.
|Fats||7.7 g||A good balance of unsaturated and saturated fats.
|Resistant starch||7.6 g||A soluble fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity
|Other||A good balance of copper and zinc, Vitamin K and B vitamins.
In addition, raw cashews like other raw nuts and seeds contain essential enzymes that are only activated when you soak them. Heating (roasting/boiling) will damage the enzymes, so keeping them raw increases the nutritional value.
And sure, you can buy cashew milk at the store, but I have my reservations about all store-bought nut milks (you can read about it in my almond milk recipe).
So, what are you waiting for? Time to make some cashew milk!
Easy Homemade Cashew Milk
A creamy, dreamy cashew milk that you'll want to make every day.
Servings: 1 cup (8 fluid oz)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup filtered water (more needed for soaking)
Soak the raw cashews in filtered water for at least 30 minutes (overnight is fine too).
Rinse the cashews thoroughly, then add to a blender with 1 cup filtered water. Add more water to make it thinner if you like.
Blend for 30-60 seconds until creamy.
Drink, use immediately in your favorite recipe, or store for up to 3 days in an air-tight jar in the fridge.
If you plan on heating this milk, do so at a low temperature - otherwise it may separate.
For a cool chocolate drink - Blend with a pitted date, 1 tsp raw cacao and a vanilla bean (or drop of vanilla extract).
For a cool turmeric latte - Blend with a pitted date, 1/2 tsp turmeric and a dash of black pepper.
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know below, and tag me @muxcooks on Instagram or Facebook if you try it! As always, share with your friends too. xo
I’ll go ahead and say it. The world doesn’t need another homemade almond milk recipe. A quick Google search brings up 149 million hits (which, granted – is a lot less than a search for ‘Brad and Jen’. Seriously, why is this still a thing, people?).
And yet, I still get loads of questions (and perplexed looks) when I talk about my homemade almond milk. Don’t get me wrong, I love going on about almond milk: how I first started making it 10 years ago without a high speed blender. How I got hooked when I found it could taste like kheer (hint: add cardamom and a date!). How it’s soo much better than store-bought…
This is probably why I don’t get invited to parties.
But that’s okay, I’m about to gate-crash your party to tell you ALL about it. Listen up – homemade almond milk is one of the simplest luxuries that you will make in your own kitchen. It’s also a nourishing substitute for dairy, especially if you’re lactose-intolerant or trying to go dairy-free.
All you need is:
- raw almonds (soaked overnight)
- a blender (a high-speed one like a Vitamix, Blendtec or Nutribullet is helpful for this)
- a clean, air-tight jar or bottle to store it in.
- optional: a nut-milk bag, cheesecloth or clean t-shirt/pantyhose (I’ll explain why this is optional).
So, what’s up with store-bought?
While I’m all about convenience, and get that homemade almond milk can be a pain to make every few days, here are my gripes with store-bought almond milk:
Gripe #1: Store-bought is full of junk (but there are exceptions).
Where to begin? First, there’s carrageenan (admittedly a type of seaweed) – a filler ingredient used to emulsify and thicken the milk. As early as the 80s, carrageenan was observed to suppress the immune system, later shown to trigger symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in sensitive digestive tracts and even suspected to be potentially carcinogenic. Some almond milk brands now pride themselves on being “carrageenan-free!” for that reason (but know that carrageenan is also in some brands of ice-cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, and deli-meats, so read the labels!).
Then there are gums like xanthan, guar, gellan and locust bean that are used as thickeners. To be fair, these gums are also used in gluten-free cooking, but what are they doing in my almond milk? No.
And, then we have BS like rapeseed oil, once again, an emulsifier, typically found in almond milk creamers. WHY, why why why! Finally, don’t get me started on the added sugar, natural flavors, etc, etc.
Here’s the thing. Almond milk is already mostly water (as it should be: almonds+water). Does it really need all the other fillers to increase its shelf-life and make it thick like milk? You tell me.
(Exceptions: check out Malk and Elmhurst, as of 1/22/20, the only brands that seem to have minimal ingredients).
Gripe #2: Store-bought is mostly water.
So is home-made almond milk. But bear with me a sec.
Almonds by themselves are nutritional powerhouses. 1/4 cup almonds contains 7g protein, 4g fiber (with prebiotic benefits), 16g healthy fats (of which 10g are monounsaturated, 4g are polyunsaturated and 1.2g is saturated), a stellar vitamin E profile (8mg or 75% of your daily required intake), a good range of B-vitamins (needed for energy production), and reasonable amounts of copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Almonds are a nutritionally balanced food.
But almonds ≠ almond milk. Let’s compare the above to the nutritional facts of a few store-bought almond milk brands.
The problem is not the added minerals – it’s that your body may not know how to process them, when they’re consumed in an isolated form (i.e., not as a whole food).
(Exceptions: check out Malk and Elmhurst, as of 1/22/20, the only brands that seem to retain a lot more protein, fats and fiber. They’re also more expensive than other brands.)
Which begs the question – what are you paying for? Water mixed with a multivitamin? Oh, right…the packaging.
Gripe #3: Store-bought involves packaging.
That means more plastic or Tetra pak packaging that not only require resources (some sustainable, some not) to be produced, but also more packaging that you now have to recycle, reuse or discard in a way that minimizes your carbon footprint.
Tetra pak, by the way is not fully recyclable – it’s made of paper, aluminum and polythene, and only 75% (the paper portion) rebirths as a new Tetra pak, the rest goes into a polyaluminum compound that eventually ends up as a single-use plastic. And we now know that not all plastics are recycled either.
See, I told you I’d talk your ear off. Let’s get back to this recipe already!
So, what makes my homemade almond milk different?
Well, most almond milk recipes involve 5 steps: 1) soaking the almonds overnight, 2) rinsing the almonds, 3) slipping the peels off, 4) blending with water – with sea salt and yummy additions like vanilla bean, dates and more, 5) straining the milk of all the almond meal before drinking.
My recipe involves 3 steps. That’s right, the key element differentiating my recipe from the others is (my) laziness. I’ve found ways to make my homemade almond milk more convenient and a breeze to make. Will it be as creamy as the other recipes? Probably not – but it will be more nutritious, and that works for me.
Here are my 3 steps:
- 1. Soak the almonds overnight. This is a critical step to activate the enzymes in the almonds.
- 2. Rinse the almonds. Peeling the skins is optional; the skin contains potent flavonoids (antioxidants) that are bioavailable when combined with vitamin C&E. Although, some claim that the skin contains tannic acids that are nutrient inhibitors, I haven’t found specific evidence to confirm this (shh, I never peel #lazy).
- 3. Blend! Straining the milk using a nut milk bag is optional, and will make the milk creamier. Not straining (as shown in the photo below) allows you to retain all the lovely fiber (and prebiotic benefits) and almond goodness, such as protein, healthy fats, and powerful antioxidants. Bonus – your body knows how to use them!
You can now store your almond milk in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2-3 days. Use it for smoothies, chia puddings, overnight oats and dairy-free pasta sauces. Heating this almond milk will make it separate, so heat at low temps if you must!
No-waste hack: Almond milk goes bad if stored for longer than 3 days. So to avoid the risk of waste, I now prefer to blend almond milk on-the-go. To do this:
- Soak a bigger batch overnight – say 1 cup of almonds for 4 days.
- Rinse and blend up what you need (usually 1/4 cup for 1 smoothie.
- Rinse the rest and thoroughly dry them (air-drying is fine).
- Store the remainder in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.
This way, you can have fresh almond milk on demand all week!
Easy Homemade Almond Milk
Almonds + Water = Almond milk. No peeling, no straining, just soak, blend & drink!
Servings: 1 cup (8 fl oz)
- 1/4 cup raw almonds (organic if possible)
- 1 cup filtered water
- pinch sea salt (optional)
Soak the almonds in cool, filtered water overnight or for 8 hours.
Rinse the almonds thoroughly. (Optional: slip off the skins)
Place in a high-speed blender with 1 cup of filtered water, and blend for about 30 -60 seconds until smooth. (Optional: strain using a nut-milk bag and use the remaining almond meal in baking, or add to soups/stews/pasta sauces for more fiber.)
Use immediately, or store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know below, and tag me @muxcooks on Instagram or Facebook if you try it!