Kale, But Better: Discovering Nutritional Yeast and Stalk Smoothies

January 14, 2014

A co-worker recently asked me what she should do with a huge bag of kale she had in her refrigerator before it went bad. As you know from a previous post, I am a big fan of the dark, leafy stuff. And just happened to have two new uses that I recently discovered myself.

USE #1: CRUNCHY, CREAMY KALE SALAD (inspired by this recipe from Oh She Glows)

One way involves a key ingredient that just entered my life. It’s called Nutritional Yeast. I know, it kind of sounds like a venereal disease. But I promise, it is quite the opposite; It's really good for you. It’s a source of vitamins, and is naturally low in fat and sodium. It’s sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Best part is, it makes vegetables (notably, kale) taste even better. I know, mind: BLOWN. How did I now know about this before?

Here’s how I did it.

  • Chopped up the Kale into bite-sized pieces. There’s something really good about getting a variety of ingredients that fit in one forkful.
  • Toasted walnuts and pecans (but please use your favorite nut) and then chopped them up by hand, because even though I own a food processor, it is always my goal to wash as few dishes as possible.
  • Mixed extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice (from a real live lemon), chopped garlic (from a real jar of chopped garlic), shallots, pepper and a teeny tiny bit of salt (I try to avoid using salt as much as possible, but a tiny bit can enhance the flavor a lot) in a bowl with a fork.
  • Mixed the nut pieces with the nutritional yeast – this is where the crunchy, creamy texture comes in.
  • Then I mixed it all together and poured it over my bite-sized kale.
  • I highly recommend trying it with chicken, chickpeas, or bacon, all alongside dried cranberries if you’d like to add a sweet yet tart bite.
  • I beg you to try this recipe if you like kale or are still trying to like kale. It breaks its tough flavor down and adds this creamy, almost cheesy flavor, without the cream and cheese. Ahhhh.

USE #2: KALE STALK SMOOTHIES

I promise you, I have never been a smoothie-er or a juicer. Making them seemed way too time consuming, too messy and, honestly – why would I want to put all of my food in one glass when I could eat it? HOWEVER, I do not like to waste food and I had leftover kale stalks from making the above salad. Making a fiber-full smoothie seemed like a smart thing to do (the stalks actually contain the most fiber and the most nutrients). And I hate to say it, but I liked it. A lot. And it might have motivated me to start making smoothies on a regular basis (shout out to my smoothie-loving friend Sally).

Here’s how I did it.

  • I put all of my leftover stalks in a sealed plastic bag after using them to make a salad.
  • Busted out four stalks (you don’t want to over-do it because, like I said, they are full of fiber and that could prove disastrous on your digestive system) and roughly chopped them.
  • Chopped up a lemon into quarters and put one quarter next to my stalks. I did not remove the lemon peel because you would not believe the nutritional power that comes just from the peel. Keep it on – the blender will tear it to a pulp and it’s worth it. (Warning: I don't mind pulp, but if you do, you may want to just stick to the lemon juice).
  • Looked in my fridge to see what else I could find and found a honey crisp apple and a couple of full-sized carrots.
  • Before I tossed any of my veggies and fruits in, I added a cup or so of almond milk and a handful of ice cubes to my blender. I then followed with the rest of the ingredients, and topped it off with a teaspoon of chia seeds.
  • As you can see, there was no real rhyme or reason to how I did this. I just had an idea/hope that it would taste good. And it did! But best of all, it made me feel awesome. Because I’m going to Cancun in a couple days, I plan to be wearing a bathing suit, which means I am a little paranoid about how flat my stomach is. I swear, this smoothie made it flatter. Fiberfull, detoxifying, awesomeness. 

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