3 Brain-Boosting Kale Salad Recipes You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less

Photo: Stocksy / Trinette Reed
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Kale is one of the original "superfoods." It promotes greater heart health and energy levels with high content of iron and antioxidants. It's packed with satiating, immune-boosting fiber and it's incredibly versatile. And to top it all off, it also enhances cognitive function. "Dark leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, and kale are wonderful brain foods," Lisa Mosconi, PhD, neuroscientist and author of Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power, previously told Well+Good. "These are all full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease-fighting nutrients needed for a healthy nervous system."

Can you eat kale raw? You bet. In fact, easy salad recipes help you reap all the benefits of kale, which can be a blessing after a long day of work when all you want to do is grab some grub and plop on the couch.

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Some of the best recipes are ready within 30 minutes. You can play with the ingredients and make substitutions that will vary the flavor profile a bit without compromising the nutritional value.

Even better? Make a large batch of a salad recipe at once and store it in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week in a variety of meals—as a base for an omelette, tossed in a soup, mixed into a grain bowl, or stuffed into a burrito.

Kale salad recipes that take less than 30 minutes to prepare

1. Easy kale salad recipe with fresh honey lemon dressing

This healthy salad has a nice balance of sweet and savory with the addition of honey as a natural sweetener to complement feta’s bold, potent flavor. Lemon juice gives the salad an acidic, tangy punch while almonds’ nuttiness bulk it up to provide heartiness (as well as protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats!) to fill you up for longer.

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 bunch fresh kale, roughly chopped 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
1 large handful feta cheese, crumbled

1. Put lemon juice, honey, and salt in a large bowl and whisk.

2. Add the kale and carrots, then use your hands to scrunch everything together, which will help season the kale and carrots and soften the kale so it’s tastier to eat raw.

3. Place the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and add in the almonds.

4. Cook and make sure to stir and watch closely until you see the almonds turn golden brown. (Should be about 1-2 minutes).)

5. Pour the hot almonds and oil together over the kale and use 2 large spoons to further combine all ingredients.

6. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and serve—yum!

2. 20-minute vegan kale Caesar salad recipe

This healthy makeover of classic Caesar salad swaps romaine for brain-boosting kale and croutons for sprouted whole grain to bulk up the fiber. The dressing combines avocado and tahini so you’ll still keep that creamy, thick Caesar salad dressing feel and flavor but without all the traditional junk and with way more nutrition, too.

3 slices of sprouted grain bread, cut into small cubes
1 Tbsp avocado oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 large bunch dinosaur kale
2 Tbsp avocado oil
1/4 cup tahini
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Simple Truth 90 second Quinoa + Rice

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper before tossing bread cubes into a large bowl containing oil, garlic powder and ½ tsp of salt.

2. Bake the cubes, flipping halfway through until toasted, for about 13-15 minutes and put aside.

3. Remove the thick stems from the kale and stack the leaves. Then roll the leaves into a cylinder and slice into strips—keep them thin—before adding to a bowl.

4. Mix the avocado oil, tahini, 2 tbsp water, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, and ½ tsp of salt in a bowl.

5. Microwave the quinoa and rice mixture for 90 seconds, then put the grains on a heated stovetop and cook with avocado oil until they’re crispy.

6. Lastly, add the croutons and dressing to the kale and enjoy!

3. Anti-inflammatory kale salad recipe

This recipe has a good balance of spice from turmeric and ginger with zest from lemon, and it works nicely with the nutty flavor of pecans, which also have healthy fats to fill you up for longer. Plus, the mint adds a cooling note to tame the heat. Serve hot or cold—both tastes amazing.

Olive oil
Lemon juice
Garlic Dijon mustard

1. Add the ingredients to a blender to blend until it’s smooth.

Cold Salad
Red Onion

1. Chop the kale into thin slices and add garnishes, then place in a bowl.

2. Drizzle the salad with the finished dressing and massage the kale for a few minutes and let it coat—this will make it less bitter to taste. Then serve!

Warm Salad
Brussels Sprouts

1. Toss the vegetables in a healthy oil, like olive oil for example, and add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Roast at 350°F for roughly 10 minutes, then plate your vegetables and drizzle in your turmeric dressing. Then serve, it’s set!

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