Warm Kale Blackberry Salad

Dr. Annie Fenn, Brain Health Kitchen

Dr. Annie Fenn, Brain Health Kitchen

Cooking is the best way I know, as a physician, to radically improve health.
— Dr. Annie Fenn, Ob/Gyn, Brain Health Chef and Instructor

Meet our newest contributor, Dr. Annie Fenn, a retired Ob/Gyn who specialized in menopausal care for the last six years of practice. She was the only Certified Menopause Practitioner in the state of Wyoming. Dr. Fenn’s second act is traveling all over the world teaching women how to prevent Alzheimer’s through food. Her company, Brain Health Kitchen, is a cooking school that teaches people how to cook and eat with brain-healthy foods. She loves getting into the kitchen with her students to show them how to cook delicious, nutritious meals that reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Dr. Fenn’s first recipe is an incredibly easy and delicious warm kale salad. Read on for the recipe and to learn more about the nutritional value of kale. It’s a superfood for sure!

 
Photo: Paulette Phlipot for Brain Health Kitchen

Photo: Paulette Phlipot for Brain Health Kitchen

 

Warm Kale Blackberry Salad

Source: Annie Fenn, MD, Brain Health Kitchen

This warm kale salad comes together quickly. Kale is tossed in a warm skillet with olive oil, then piled onto a plate. Then pistachios get the same treatment. Blackberries and balsamic vinegar cook down into a syrupy dressing. Don't use your best balsamic vinegar for this dish; a good supermarket brand is fine.

Serves 4 for lunch or dinner

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bunches kale or enough for 8 cups leaves

  • 1 cup raw pistachios

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 15 fresh mint leaves cut into slivers

  • Kosher or flaky sea salt such as Maldón

  • Edible blooms for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse the kale well and strip the leaves from the stems using your hands or a knife. Tear or cut the kale leaves into 2-inch strips and dry thoroughly with a salad spinner or a kitchen towel. (Reserve the kale stems for another dish — dip into hummus, add to vegetable broth, or dice fine and add to soups.)

  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat just until it shimmers.

  3. Add the kale and sauté for 2 to 4 minutes, until wilted and slightly brown on the edges. Transfer to a serving dish.

  4. In the same skillet, add the pistachios and sauté over low heat for a few minutes until toasty brown. Remove the pistachios and sprinkle over the kale.

  5. In the same pan, add the blackberries and balsamic vinegar. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the vinegar coats the back of a spoon.

  6. Pour the blackberries and their vinegar sauce over the kale.

  7. Scatter mint leaves across the salad and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of flaky salt. Garnish with edible blooms, if using. Toss gently just before serving.

Leafy Greens and the Brain

Everyone knows that kale is a nutritional powerhouse. But did you know that eating one cup of leafy greens each day can lengthen your brain span by 11 years? Yes, one study showed that eating leafy greens such as kale can actually slow down cognitive decline and help you maintain an active brain longer.

 
By organic kale if you can to reduce exposure to pesticides

By organic kale if you can to reduce exposure to pesticides

 

Fun Facts About Kale

Although kale hit its peak in popularity in 2017, it’s been around since ancient Roman times. Farmers love it for its frost resistance. Chefs love it for its flavor profile and versatility. And healthy food mavens love it for its nutrient density — kale contains over 45 different anti-inflammatories shown to prevent cancer. Those same nutrients combat the effects of aging on the brain. Just make sure to buy organic if you can. Kale was #3 on this year’s list of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, a ranking of non-organic fruits and vegetables that have the highest amounts of pesticide residue.

What do you get in one cup of kale?

  • 134% of your daily vitamin C (which is more than you get from a whole orange)

  • 684% of your daily vitamin K

  • 204% of your daily vitamin A (because it contains high levels of its precursor beta-carotene)

  • 9% of your daily calcium

  • About 10% of your daily manganese, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, and magnesium

  • 1.3 grams of fiber, which helps slow the rise of blood sugar that comes after a meal

  • 33 calories

  • 3 grams of protein

  • Besides vitamin C, kale contains powerful brain-healthy antioxidants: quercetin, kaempferol, lutein, and zeaxanthin

  • Sulforaphane, a natural plant compound known to fight the formation of cancer on a molecular level

Whether its kale or arugula, baby lettuces or romaine, try to eat at least one heaping cup of leafy greens each day. Your brain will thank you for it. Happy kale eating friends!

For more tips on eating for brain health and boosting your overall wellbeing, sign up for Lisa Health!

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