Kale has a variety of different uses beyond the simple salad. In fact, this leafy green exists in such abundance in Washington, D.C. that a kale diet is possible anywhere in the city.
This week, I am featuring my seven-day “complete kale cleanse.” For those worried about the variety of my daily nutrient consumption, I did not have just kale, but I ate kale consistently, at least twice a day. Following this simple rule proved as amazing as it was easy to do — a complete 180-degree turn from the paleo diet of two weeks ago — in fact, it was a total “fairy-kale.”
As much as I would like to stop exalting the myriad of wonderful qualities this vegetable possesses, my sense of duty does not allow me to do so. Humanity needs kale: Kale has it all. With just one serving, you can cross out your vitamins A, C and K for the day. It is a sure-fire way to feel great throughout the week.
I transformed just one bag of kale from Trader Joe’s into 5 to 7 servings. However, you better make sure to grab the regular bag over the organic option — I learned the hard way that organic kale goes bad within a day of opening. Store the kale in the coldest part of your fridge, away from other produce, and never cede to the temptation of freezing it.
The kale diet also left me feeling happy and satisfied. It is a very filling vegetable, if not the easiest to snack on raw. Moreover, I found that my usual cravings were cut back and no late-night Ben and Jerry’s runs needed. In terms of convenience, it is a simple fix to prepare a large bowl of kale and butternut squash salad for a few days’ lunch. Depending on how you cook it, kale can take different textures, which creates variety for this simple diet. Beware of bits, however; it is important to take care to check your teeth before heading out, or else you might be grinning green. I may have made that mistake before an interview.
Overall, the seven-day kale cleanse proved a success. I have expanded my cooking repertoire and plan to include a few servings of kale per week, though probably not as many servings as I had this week. With this wonderfully sustainable diet, I felt great while doing it.
Here are some restaurants close by that offer some serious kale menu items:
1. Chaia: Skip Dog Tag Bakery treats this week and head next door to Chaia for unconventional vegan tacos.
2. Ching Ching Cha: Located next to Filomena, this gem is often overlooked despite its diverse array of loose-leaf tea and fun floor seating. It is simultaneously a restaurant, tea hub, Asian-goods shop and a personal favorite.
3. Sweetgreen: No need to comment on this Georgetown-must.
4. The Bombay Club: For those craving some classier kale fare.
5. The Tombs: It is right outside of the main gates on 35th Street, so few excuses could prevent Georgetown students from going once and trying one of the signature salads or the grilled swordfish on kale.
Here are some kale recipes that I tried and loved:
1. Kale black bean burritos: For these spicy treats, fill a tortilla with black beans, kale, goat cheese, avocado, kale pesto, and wrap. Optional for spice: jalapeno, lime juice, cumin, garlic, etc.
2. Kale, chicken, butternut squash and farro salad: After peeling and dicing a butternut squash, toss in some olive oil and garlic. Bake on an aluminum foil-covered baking sheet for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss with grilled chicken, cooked farro, kale and the dressing of your choice.
3. Kale pesto: Toss kale, a clove of garlic, and a half cup of olive oil into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt to taste and about a half cup of raw almonds or cashews to the mix and pulse until blended.
4. Creamed kale: Blanch your kale in salt water, then rinse and drain. Melt butter over medium heat and add chopped kale, a cup of heavy cream, and nutmeg to taste. Reduce to simmer until sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Kale, red pepper, spinach and snap pea stir-fry: Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and kale, sliced red peppers, spinach, and snap-peas to a pan over medium-high heat. Season with your favorite stir-fry sauce and serve over rice.
And these are the kale recipes that I tried and loathed:
1. Kale smoothies: Making these seemingly simple beverages at home will ruin both your day and your pearly whites; I found myself with kale stuck in my teeth for a whole week.
2. Kale quesadillas: The kale really took over and subverted the goal of cheese — cheesiness.
3. Cheesy kale chips: No cheesiness, no yumminess.
Nina Young is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. BAKE MY DAY appears every other Friday.