Power-Up Needed. Kale & Pineapple Salad with Sunflower Seeds

Oomph. With the countless number of hours I've spent on the couch this past week, you would think I'd be further ahead on this blog-writing business. Not the case. Instead, I've been sleeping more than the cat, watching back-to-back episodes of The Good Wife, and guzzling warm mugs of apple cider vinegar and cinnamon. I don't get sick often, and certainly never the I'm-not-even-hungry/I-don't-even-want-to-cook sort of sick. Thank goodness that's over.

Some days you just need a power-up. And you know what? The day after a week spent on a couch eating mostly soups is one of those days. 

With the number of anti-inflammatories this salad packs, you better believe it will help get you back on your feet! Ready for a little science lesson? Check out what each ingredient in this salad has to offer! (If you are so not ready for a little science lesson, just scroll straight to the recipe… no one will know!). 

  • Bell Peppers are high in vitamin C and contain antioxidant phytonutrients.
  • Also high in vitamin C, cucumbers have micronutrients that work as anti-inflammatories in the body. 
  • We've all heard about the super powers of kale. This leafy green contains anti-inflammatories, and is amazingly high in vitamins K and A. Did you now it also contains omega-3s? By massaging the kale for this recipe, we are able to make it easier to digest and nicer to chew, without compromising it's nutrient make-up.
  • Pineapple (the real reason you want to eat this salad,) is high in immune-boosting vitamin C, helps with digestion, and contains manganese and thiamin (vitamin B1), which help in the body's production of energy. 
  • Sunflower seeds are one of the best food sources of vitamin E available. Vitamin E is an essential nutrient and serves as an antioxidant. The seeds also contain Selenium, which triggers your body to repair DNA in damage cells (that's my kind of recovery potion!). 
  • Mint, as we previously discussed, grows like weeds in my backyard. I can't complain much though, because it makes for some pretty good mojitos. Besides, it's key actor, menthol, soothes smooth muscle, which can help with digestion. It has also been shown to be an effective microbial, so load up! 
  • Onions--yes, boring old onions- have some magic in them as well. Their unique set of micronutrients have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. 
  • And don't forget about the garlic in the dressing! The garlic in this dressing is left raw, which is a key part of getting the most out of garlic's unique nutrient offering. Garlic's pungent flavor is due to an impressive resume of sulfur-containing constituents, which have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral effects. (This is why I've been eating a lot of pesto this week). This vegetable even helps with iron metabolism in the body.

Ok, ok. Enough science. We could go on and on but I know if you are as excited about phytonutrients as I am, you'll just go look it up. For the rest of you, trust me when I say that pineapple is exactly what your kale has been searching for. It adds acidity, sweetness, and mother load of flavor. Besides, it helps make same-same boring old kale salad into something anyone can excited about.  

Kale Pineapple Salad

1 bunch of kale, whichever type looks the freshest

1 green bell pepper

1 can pineapple

1 cucumber

1/4 cup mint, minced

1/4 cup sunflower seeps, toasted

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt to taste

Plus: 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon lemon juice for massaging

1. Remove the stems from the kale, and tear the leaves into reasonable bite-sized pieces. Place in large bowl, and sprinkle with salt and lemon juice for massaging. Use your hands to knead the kale, rubbing the leaves until they are bright green. They should be soft, but not limp. (Massaging kale breaks down the cell walls of the plant, making it easier for you body to digest. By keeping the kale raw, the kale's nutrient profile is kept in tact). 

2. Slice the cucumber into matchsticks; cut the pepper into thin slices. If the pineapple is not yet in chunks, slice that as well. Add all of these to the kale, along with the mint. Toss in the sunflower seeds.

3. In a blender, combine remaining ingredients (garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt), and blend on high until fully combined and smooth. 

4. Just before serving the salad, pour about half of the dressing over it. Toss it to ensure even coating. Pour remaining dressing in a jar and put it out along with the salad for each person to add as they like.