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Raw Kale Salad

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

Yeah, I know. I am turning into "the kale doctor". At this point, I assume you all know that I love kale. Maybe it was all those years living in Seattle surrounded by naturopathic doctors and gourmet foodies. Maybe it was all the kale they served in the cafeteria at my medical school. Or maybe it was the fact that you could grow and harvest kale all year in your yard in Seattle (and no one thought it was weird to use kale as a landscaping plant). I really do cook other things. The next few recipes I post will NOT be kale related (scout's honor). However, I promised a few folks that I would share this recipe, which is one of my summer favorites. As summer has arrived, it seemed like it was time.

Kale is super high in folate (a really important nutrient for preventing anemia, building new cells, wound healing, energy and brain function). Folate is pretty fragile though, and can be destroyed by cooking. Keeping kale raw means that all of the folate is still intact. I also love it because it is a way to make raw kale edible and palatable. My stepdad, who really is not fond of most vegetables, will actually eat this salad... I know... hard to believe, but he actually likes it.

Knowing how to prepare raw kale is another "super food" skill. As I have discussed before, kale leaves are really tough, and fairly bitter. Those super strong leaves make it hard for us to not only chew the kale, but to extract the nutrients. Once again we are going to use the chemistry we learned in the earlier post The Science of Eating and Enjoying Your Greens to help us make kale more edible, delicious while making it easier to absorb the nutrients.

Technically oranges and lemons are a winter fruit, but since this recipe is raw and served cool, I really like it in the summer.

So, without further ado, Raw Kale Salad:


  • 1 bunch kale (curly green kale works best for this recipe)

  • 1-2 naval oranges

  • 1 big handful of pumpkin seeds

  • 1 handful of cilantro (if you like it)

  • A few pinches of salt

  • 1.5 Tbs lemon juice (fresh if you can)

  • 1.5 Tbs olive oil


  • Wash, and mostly dry the kale.

  • Remove the center stem from the leaves and either tear or chop into bite sized pieces.

  • Put kale pieces into large salad bowl.

  • Sprinkle with salt, drizzle with olive oil, and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the leaves

  • Using your hands, massage the oil, lemon and salt into the kale (yes, I said massage).

  • Keep massaging the kale until it wilts down to about 1/2 of its original volume.

  • The leaves should now be dark green and much softer, but not falling apart.

  • Trim the skin and most of the white off of 1 large or 2 small naval oranges, chop into 1-2 cm chunks, add to salad bowl

  • Add pumpkin seeds

  • Add cilantro if desired

  • Toss and serve.

This salad does not need a separate dressing. The salt, lemon, oil and oranges combine beautifully to flavor this dish. Once again we have salt, oil, acid and savory transforming our tough, bitter kale into something marvelous.

If you want extra "dressing" add a bit more orange/ lemon juice, a little more oil, plus a dash of agave, maple syrup or honey to the mix.

This salad will stay good in the fridge for 4-5 days.

You can swap out the oranges for any sour fruit. Grapefruit works well. You could also try Granny Smith apples, grapes, pomegranate seeds, pineapple, maybe even mango, nectarine or peach (though those might be too squishy). You can also use any nuts you want - as long as the flavor compliments the fruit. Apples and almonds, peach and pecan, pineapple and coconut... you get the idea...

Bon appetit!

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I can't wait to try this!!!

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