Kale Caesar! All who are about to eat salute you!
–With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare
One of the things I emphasize in all my nutrition work, whether it’s with private clients, in classes or in my own kitchen, is moving toward a diet that’s as nutritionally dense as possible. That means not a mouthful, nor a dollar, is wasted on food that doesn’t do your body good. And if it does your body good, it’s generally delicious, because when it comes to real food, flavor equals nutrition.
With that in mind, here’s a dish to start off the New Year. It’s full of fresh, unprocessed food and because it’s mostly raw, the nutrients are intact and available for your body.
I’m not a big green salad eater in the winter. I prefer to eat in season and lettuce is not in season in my neck of the woods right now. But one can argue that kale is in season here all year long. I have it growing in my garden now. This dish has several raw components and still feels substantial and wintery, so I can get behind it any time of the year. This is what it has going for it:
- Raw, dark leafy greens
- Real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which is made in the traditional manner with raw cow’s milk
- A raw, pastured egg yolk, a superfood if ever there was one
- Cold-pressed, unfiltered olive oil, with all its monounsaturated fats intact and lots of polyphenols, a kind of antioxidant
You probably don’t need much convincing that kale, extra virgin olive oil and even traditionally made cheeses are good for you, but you may still harbor some doubt about egg yolks, particularly raw ones.
It’s important to know that there’s no research that has linked egg consumption with heart disease, but there is a study that shows a benefit to eating egg yolks in much of the population. If anything, eggs are likely to protect against heart disease because if they increase blood lipids at all, they raise the amount of large, buoyant LDL, which is not harmful, as is small, dense LDL.
And eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available, especially when they come from pasture-raised chickens who live outdoors and get to live, and eat, like chickens are meant to, pecking the ground for worms and grubs, which they convert to amazing nutrients, so we don’t have to.
Egg yolks are rich in vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as the minerals iodine and phosphorus, antioxidants galore, and lecithin. If the chickens are pastured then the yolks are a rich source of Omega 3 fats, while commercial eggs, even organic ones, are higher in inflammatory Omega 6 fats.
I don’t worry about eating raw eggs because I know where my eggs are coming from and I know they’re safe. I might worry a bit more if I were eating factory-farmed eggs, from large, industrial operations thousands of miles away. If you are immune compromised or are otherwise concerned about eating raw eggs, then leave them out of the dressing, but if you are confident, like I am, that you’re getting clean, fresh eggs, then feel assured about consuming them raw, so that the proteins and other nutrients are left intact.
If you’re confused about the place cholesterol, and egg yolks in particular, has in your diet, contact me for a free health consultation. This year put YOU first on your list!
“Kale Caesar” Salad
Dress the salad 10 or 20 minutes before serving so the acid in the dressing can tenderize the kale.
Dressing (Makes about 1 cup, enough for 2 or 3 salads):
- 1 pastured egg yolk
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or mashed to a paste
- 1 tablespoon finely minced canned anchovy
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce or fish sauce (Red Boat brand recommended)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch kale, ribs removed and sliced in 1/4-inch ribbons (Lacinato, Tuscan or Dinosaur kale is my favorite for this and other kale dishes)
- 1 carrot, shredded
- ¼ – ½ cup dressing (see recipe above)
- ½ cup shredded Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese
- Optional: Cooked, shredded chicken or cooked salmon
In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients except the olive oil. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to blend. Dressing should thicken and emulsify. Keep unused dressing in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Put the shredded kale in a large salad bowl. With your hands, squeeze or knead the kale until it is dark green and a little more tender. Add shredded carrots and dressing to taste. Toss well and let sit for 10 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve topped with shredded cheese and chicken or salmon, if desired.