Smoky Massaged Kale Salad

I hope everyone had a good election day and didn’t stay up too late last night watching the race! I had fully intended to post this recipe yesterday, but I got caught up in all the election day fuss and never got around to it :)


On to the recipe (because this is one I don’t want to delay any longer)!

I’m so happy that kale is in season. Over the summer, I purchased some very pathetic-looking kale just because I knew I wouldn’t be able to go without it. Now, there are big, beautiful, fresh bundles of kale everywhere! At this point, I truly can’t live without my beloved kale, but that has certainly not always been the case.

The first time I ate kale, I couldn’t understand what all the hubbub was about. To me, raw kale had an unpleasantly bitter taste and an equally unpleasant rough texture. However, after trying kale chips and sautéed kale, I decided to give kale another chance and eventually came to appreciate kale for its unique flavor, as well as its numerous nutritional benefits:

  • Kale supports the body’s detoxification system
  • It’s high in vitamins K, A, C, B6, and E, as well as fiber, calcium, potassium, and iron
  • It has been shown to lower the risk for cancer due to its high concentration of the antioxidants carotenoids and flavonoids
  • Kale has also been shown to lower cholesterol
  • According to, “it only takes 100 calories of kale to provide us with 25-35% of the National Academy of Sciences’ public health recommendation for the most basic omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA).” This is important because omega-3′s have been shown to reduce inflammation. (source)

Knowing how amazing kale is for our health, I forced myself to eat more. Somewhere along the way, I began to develop a taste for kale. I still had a hard time eating raw kale salads, though. Then I learned about massaging kale and how it can completely change the texture and flavor. I know, it sounds very strange. I was skeptical at first, but it can make all the difference in the world! Raw kale can be rough and difficult to digest, but by tearing the kale leaves apart with our hands and taking a few extra minutes to massage the leaves, kale can be completely transformed! Now, I’m completely hooked. In fact, I eat raw kale salads at least once or twice each week.

As much as I love kale, the dressing in this recipe is the true star. I first saw the recipe for this dressing here over a year ago and made a few minor adjustments. As they say, it was love at first sight–er, taste! I’ve made it at least a hundred times, and each time I have to stop myself from eating it with a spoon!


Smoky Massaged Kale Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 large salads
  • 1 head of curly kale
  • sea salt, for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup raw or roasted pumpkin seeds
  • ½ avocado, cubed
  • 1 Tbs. almond butter
  • 1 Tbs. flax oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 3-4 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • pinch of cumin
  • Optional: add in some fresh dill, dulse flakes, or a handful of sprouts
  1. Rinse and dry the kale leaves. Use your hands to tear apart the leaves into small, bite-size pieces, removing the larger stems as you go.
  2. Toss the kale into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and use your hands to massage the salt into the kale leaves. After a couple of minutes, the kale leaves will have darkened and softened (it will look as though they’ve wilted).
  3. Add the pumpkin seeds and avocado to the kale.
  4. Combine all of the dressing ingredients (almond butter through cayenne pepper) in a small mixing bowl. Whisk everything together until smooth.
  5. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss until everything is evenly coated by the dressing.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

*I’ve submitted this recipe to Gluten Free Fridays

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