Move over spinach, there’s a new green on the scene and its name is kale. Yes, it’s been around for practically ever (it grew throughout Greece in the fourth century BC), but with all the recent attention, kale really has become the latest superfood superstar. Not only is this leafy member of the cabbage family loaded with vitamins K, C and A (all of which do wonders for the skin) but it lowers cholesterol and decreases the risk of many types of cancers including breast, colon, ovary and prostate. So if you want to get in on the action, check out these places (as well as a DIY version) for kale that will have you going back for more.
True Food Kitchen – Santa Monica & Newport Beach
This consistently good, good-for-you restaurant’s menu is based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet and the $8 Tuscan kale salad is one of the stars of the show. Made with strips of Italian black kale, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, grated Tuscan cheese and bread crumbs, it’s absolutely delish. You can also do it topped with chicken or salmon or half-size if you want.
Cafe Gratitude – Larchmont Village
Everyone I talk to can’t get enough of this cafe serving local, organic and vegan food. And the kale is no exception. Try the “I Am Pure” ginger-tahini kale salad with avocado, sea palm, nori, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, basil and green onions topped with sunflower sprouts teriyaki almonds for $12.75.
Stella Rossa – Santa Monica
In case you hadn’t heard, I’ll let you in on a little non-secret: Stella Rossa has the best white pizza with kale. Ever. It’s called the Bloomsdale Spinach but it also has lots of crispy purple kale, pecorino, cracked black peppercorn and a little olive oil. So gorgeous, so good, so I need another slice right about now. Do yourself a favor and fork over the $13.95 for this pie.
Tender Greens – Santa Monica
It’s on the Simple Salads menu for $6, but this dish is anything but modest. The kale salad with Parmesan and creamy roasted garlic vinaigrette bursts with flavor—it’s so good I never leave the restaurant without ordering it. I like to upgrade and mix in some barbecued chicken for an extra $5. FYI: You can only get this salad at the Santa Monica location.
Veggie Grill – Multiple Locations
This all-vegan cafe’s simple Steamin’ Kale appetizer salad is great–it’s just tender kale with a ginger-miso dressing and roasted sesame seeds. But if you want to get something more filling, try the All Hail Kale salad with marinated kale and red cabbage, roasted corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts and a ginger-papaya vinaigrette for $7.95. You can add fake blackened chicken for an extra $2.
The Misfit – Santa Monica
I know it’s another Santa Monica pick, but it’s not my fault that so many seaside spots really know their way around kale. Case in point: The Misfit’s $9 chopped kale salad with sunflower seeds, Midnight Moon goat cheese (you can do it without, too), golden raisins and whatever else from the farmers’ market. The secret weapon is that the kale is soaked overnight in water with a little sea salt. The result is soft-ish strands that still hold their texture but without any of the bitterness.
DIY – Trader Joes or any Farmers’ Market
I’m no pro in the kitchen and thankfully with this recipe you don’t have to be either. Props to Ms. Bikini Chef herself, Susan Irby, for tweeting about this ridiculously easy and delish way to get all that kale goodness in your bod without any hassle whatsoevs. For the tastiest baked kale chips ever, simply toss some of the raw greens (I get the $1.99 bag from Trader Joe’s) in a bowl with a little olive oil and whatever seasoning you like (I do sea salt + black pepper + garlic powder), spread on a cookie sheet, throw in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and voila! A healthy snack you can love. The best part: It’s totally cheap and tastes waaay better than those tiny $5 bags of Kale Krunch at Whole Foods!