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How to Massage Kale

Learning how to massage kale takes just a few minutes and 5 easy steps. It’s worth the extra bit of effort to really enjoy all of the amazing benefits of this versatile leafy green! 

Kale and oil in bowl.
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Eat your Greens

Kale has been touted as a superfood because of its incredible abundance of nutrients and its ability to go from salad to smoothie to chip and be so good for you in any form!

If ever you’re told you should eat more dark leafy greens, kale is one of your best options, but I get the texture is not for everyone. However, the reason most people don’t enjoy the texture is that they’ve eaten it without it being massaged first. Believe me, massaging kale makes a difference!

As far as health foods go, this one is worth getting on board with so you might as well learn how to massage kale to be able to enjoy it as much as I do. I love it in a kale quinoa salad with Italian dressing or my homemade vinaigrette, chopped up and wilted in soups, baked as chips with so many seasoning options, blended up in smoothies, you name it!

Why is Kale Good for You?

It’s loaded with fiber, antioxidants and has a ton of vitamins like C, D, and K. It’s high in iron and it’s a great low carb replacement for things like wraps,  and a great alternate choice for salads, although used in combination with spinach and chard, you’ve got nutrients for days!

Why Do you Massage Kale?

Kale on its own is pretty tough and fibrous, most types anyway, especially the curly kind you’ll usually pick up in the grocery store. If you were to chew on a piece just ripped off the stem, you’d be chewing for quite some time. It’s also pretty bitter without any sort of dressing.

Breaking down the fibers (kind of like tenderizing meat!) helps not only the texture but aids digestion. Using oil and/or a bit of acid from lemon juice helps to season it and wilt it making for a nicer bite, ready to be used in all kinds of ways.

Kale and lemon in bowl.

How to Massage Kale

Kale bunches usually come in individual leaves bundled together, unlike lettuce, you’re not breaking it off of an entire core. This makes it easier to work with one at a time.

  1. Remove the leaves from the stem. Hold onto the bottom end of the stem with one hand, and running your fingers along the stem with the other hand, which will automatically pull off the leaves as you go from the bottom to the tip. You should have big chunks. If you have some of the top parts of the stem remaining, not to worry as long as it’s not the bottom (basically inedible) portion, you’re good. Discard the remaining stem.
  2. Chop up your kale. Using a sharp chef’s knife or paring knife, chop up your kale into however small or large you want your pieces to be when you take a bite of salad. Keep in mind, the smaller your pieces, the less massaging needed. Rinse and drain the kale in either a colander or salad spinner.
  3. Coat kale leaves. Transfer kale into a bowl large enough to fit all of it and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, or both. Oh, and wash your hands!
  4. Now, the fun part! Massaging kale is exactly as it sounds. For the next few minutes get right in there and massage it like you would knead bread dough. Rubbing it in between the palms of your hands, and using your fingers to break down those fibers.
  5. Ready to eat. Once you notice the kale has become more relaxed, a bit softer which will make it appear as if it has reduced down, it is ready to be enjoyed! A sprinkling of salt towards the end is a nice added touch if you plan on eating it as is.
pouring oil over kale in bowl

Are There Times When I Don’t Have to Massage Kale?

There are plenty of opportunities to eat kale without massaging it. For example, you don’t need to massage it before baking kale chips or adding it to smoothies. In fact, you probably don’t want the added oil as part of your drink! You can also add it to soups and cook with it without massaging it.

Ways to Enjoy Kale

As mentioned earlier, it’s pretty bitter on its own so I love adding it to salads like this winter salad or sweet potato salad with delicious dressings like anything from a balsamic dressing, to Italian dressing and ranch dressing!

It’s also great in this energizing and nutrient-dense delicious kale smoothie loaded with bananas and blueberries. You can also swap the spinach for kale in this creamy avocado smoothie, or enjoy it in a buddha bowl or this delicious one-pot Zuppa Toscana!

Adding more kale into your diet has never been easier!

Massaging kale in bowl.

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