January is pretty much universally the time of year for healthy eating. And a lot of times people hear ‘healthy’ and think unappetizing, unfun and boring. Meanwhile, I am sitting here with this delicious AF kale and brussels sprout salad and I am telling you this:
Healthy eating is not always boring
It is definitely what you make of it, and it can be tasty as hell. Also, I think anyway, people really need to define healthy eating better. Be more realistic. Maybe you overindulged on sugar over the holidays – healthy eating for you can be to cut back (not necessarily cut out entirely) or switch to no white sugar and sweeten things with honey and maple syrup; maybe you ate red meat like 20x over the holidays – healthy eating can be eating mostly fish and chicken for a while, cutting back. Maybe you’re like me, and you had heavy cream, cocktails, red meat and a shit ton of desserts every single day in December – healthy eating can be no cream, alcohol and more veggies for a while.
Bottom line, healthy doesn’t have to be drastic or everything…give yourself a little bit of grace, will ya? Make small attainable and sustainable changes. Just always remember one thing, if you pack it full of flavor it won’t even feel healthy.
What makes this a healthy kale and brussels sprout salad?
- It is made from scratch – even the dressing. Making from scratch enables you to control the ingredients…the amount of salt, sugar, oil. Commercial dressings are sh-t most of the time (don’t get me wrong I still use some of them), and this is a light and fresh dressing that you can adapt and use on all kinds of salads.
- Raw veggies are healthier. They just are…cooking veggies, no matter how perfectly you cook them can cook some of their nutritional elements right out of them.
- Kale is a superfood. Don’t believe me? Read this. It is one of the highest nutrient green vegetables around, and it is super versatile.
What you need for this kale and brussels sprout salad recipe.
- Kale and brussels sprouts – both are raw and both are finely julienned, basically shredded. Kale can be tough, but chopping so finely make it a lot more palatable. And if you’ve never tried brussels sprouts raw, I def think this is a great first introduction. They are crunchy and not at all like the boiled crap you probably remember.
- Dried cherries or cranberries – a little sweetness goes a long way when eating bitter greens like this. If neither of these is available, dried or fresh blueberries also works great.
- Pecorino cheese – this is what I use, mostly because I often have some on hand and I don’t use nearly as much as I use parm. Pecorino (romano) is super similar to parm, but is made from sheep’s milk and is much tangier and saltier. If you don’t have pecorino or don’t like it or prefer less tang and saltiness, by all means use a good parm, grana padano or even a Spanish manchego
- Maple dijon vinaigrette – this dressing is the perfect compliment to the power greens. Lightly sweet with maple syrup and has a good amount of grainy dijon mustard and vinegar.
All of these ingredients balance out the salad, making it sweet, bitter, salty and a little sour…and absolutely delicious.
Other things you can add to make this more substantial and extra delicious.
- Additional fruits – try blueberries, strawberries, tangerines
- Spinach – you can never have too many greens
- Nuts – walnuts would be great in this for texture, so would almonds
- Chia seeds – also great for texture and super healthy
- Other cheeses – I am not a cheese person, so I cannot tell from personal experience, but I will say that my husband puts goat cheese or blue cheese in this when we have it and he loves it. So if you love it, go for it!
Looking for other great healthy(ish) salads?
Kale and brussels sprout salad
For the salad
- 1 lb of kale I buy it in bunches and use two bunches, thickest part of the stem removed and thin THIN sliced (think julienned or shredded)
- 1 lb brussel sprouts thin THIN sliced (think julienned or shredded)
- 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
- 1/4 cup grated or shredded pecorino romano or parm cheese
For the dressing
- 1/2 tablespoon of grainy mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar if you only have one or the other use 4 tablespoons of that - or use red wine vinegar if that is what you have
- 3 tablespoons avocado or neutral oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
To make the dressing
In a bowl whisk together the maple syrup, grainy mustard and vinegars. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in both oils. Whisk vigorously to emulsify. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.
Assemble the salad by placing all ingredients in a bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss together. Give this a pretty good toss and really massaging the kale will help to soften it a bit. Let the salad sit with the dressing on for about 15 minutes before enjoying (this also lets the dressing soak into the salad and helps soften the kale and brussel sprouts a bit). Serve this with a little extra cracked pepper.