Kale Salad Recipe

This clean eating kale salad is quick, simple, and delicious!

Have you ever wondered what people are talking about when they say they “massage” their kale? Sounds like they bust out a whole massage table along with massage oils and some relaxing yoga music and do deep tissue on a kale leaf, doesn’t it?

Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe

Ya, I thought it was crazy talk until I actually did it.

No, I didn’t have a massage table, or massage oils, or yoga music. Okay, maybe I turned on the music. But definitely no massage table or oil. I swear. But you could kinda say that I did some deep tissue on those kale leaves, and I’m here to tell you, it makes all the difference in the world!

I recently finished a plant-based culinary program in which we had to make a kale salad very similar to this one. When the recipe told me I had to massage my kale, the above images flashed through my mind. I thought it was crazy. But truthfully, it was the best kale salad I’d ever had. In fact, I was never a kale fan until I learned to massage my kale. Sounds dramatic, but it makes a huge difference in the finished dish.

How To Massage Kale

Okay, so enough with the crazy spa talk. Massaging kale is not at all what it sounds like. It’s less like a deep tissue massage and more like kneading bread. You basically get a little fat and acid in there (to help break things down) and then squish it all together, breaking down the toughness of the leaves as you go. You are literally just squeezing and squishing the leaves to soften them up. It’s super simple! (see the photos in the recipe below).

Why You Should Massage Kale

Simply put, it takes a really tough-to-eat kale leaf and turns it into something much more palatable and easy to chew. It softens the leaves to make them more edible. If the bitterness of kale really bothers you, you might want to chop it first and then rinse or soak it in water for a few minutes so that it will release some of its bitter compounds. Then you can dry it in a salad spinner and massage it.

Health Benefits Of Kale

  • This member of the cabbage family is one of the most nutritious plants on earth. Seriously. It’s so good for you!
  • Kale is a great source of Omega-3 fats
  • It’s totally high in vitamins such as A, K and C.
  • It’s only 33 calories per cup, so you can really bulk up that lunch-time salad without worrying about overeating.

Recipe Notes

  • Prep your kale ahead of time if time is of the essence.
  • Make sure your avocado is ripe. Hard avocados won’t work here.
  • Don’t overdo the lemon juice. Too much really brings out the bitterness of the kale. But a little tastes good and helps break down the leaves during that massage.

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More Healthy Kale Recipes

Kale Salad Recipe

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Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe

Kale Salad

A simple, quick and delicious salad that travels well for lunch. It’s low in calories and high in nutrition density.
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Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 85kcal


  • 1 medium bunch dino kale (a.k.a. Lacinato kale)
  • 1 medium ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 medium shallot (2 cloves – minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cherry tomatoes (cut in half – optional, but good)


Clean Your Kale First

  • Soak the kale in a tub of water for at least 10 minutes to allow any dirt to come off. (If you want to cut down on bitterness, do this after preparing your leaves as shown here.)
  • Then (one leaf at a time) lay a leaf on your cutting board.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Fold it in half.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Cut along the hard rib all the way down.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • The leaf should now be completely removed from the stem.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Chop or tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. (If you haven’t soaked your leaves yet, do so now.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Place the leaves in a salad spinner and spin to dry.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Place the leaves in a large mixing bowl.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Add your minced shallots.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Add the lemon juice.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Sprinkle on just a small pinch of salt (optional, but tasty)
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • Add in the avocado and squish/knead everything together for about 3-5 minutes.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • When finished, your hands should be dirty and your kale should be nice and soft/pliable. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe
  • If using the tomatoes (I didn’t, but I have in the past and it’s super good), toss them in now, and then serve.
    Clean Eating Kale Salad Recipe


Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible. Data does not include the optional tomatoes.


Serving: 0.25the recipe | Calories: 85kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 408mg | Fiber: 2g | Vitamin A: 4250IU | Vitamin C: 56.1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 0.9mg

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