I can remember the first time I ever tried kale. I had just moved to North Carolina and started work at an organic cafe. There was a deli case full of sides and salads, chicken salad type dishes and desserts. They made a Mandarin Kale Salad that everyone raved over and I remember being so surprised that I like it. Especially since mandarin oranges give me the willies. My Grandma once told me I was a fruit snob for not wanting to eat canned peaches simply because they came from a can. It’s not really like I’m being a snob – I just can’t get past some textural thing or the goopy liquid, I don’t know what it is, but canned fruit makes my stomach do somersaults. So anyways, I was introduced to kale (and many other things, for better or worse) at this organic cafe and luckily I was given the freedom to experiment. I cooked with it, I made salads with it, and I made smoothies with it.
My favorite delivery system for kale is definitely in smoothie form. With the right formula, you can’t even tell it’s there and I’m always in the mood for a fruity, sweet, cold drink. That’s not true for salads – I only really crave them in the summertime, and maybe only once a week. Plus if you put a sloppy sandwich next to my salad, I’m going to want the sandwich more than my salad.
This recipe was inspired by Mamma Chia’s Green Magic Chia Squeeze, little pouches of chia gel with spirulina and other green goodness. I bought them for the Ragnar, never ate them, and then started throwing them in smoothies for an extra nutritional boost. Then I ran out, and I’m too cheap to buy more, so I made this up. Instead of spirulina I used kale, but if you have spirulina or wheat grass powder they’d make a great addition.
Chia seeds are similar to hemp or flax seeds in nutrition – high in omegas, a good source of protein, rich in vitamins and minerals – but they also have a high absorption power. That’s why you see recipes all over the blogosphere for chia pudding, chia gel, etc. Chia seeds soak up liquid and they’ll absorb any flavors in that liquid. Your body can more easily absorb the nutrients from the seeds this way too. I used turmeric and cinnamon in this recipe for added anti-inflammatory properties that help my joints recover from runs, but you could easily substitute other spices or extracts for different flavor combinations.
Anti-Inflammatory Green Chia Gel
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup raw kale (a very big handful)
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Measure and combine the orange juice, water, kale, turmeric, cinnamon and salt in a blender. Blend on high for about 1 minute, until really smooth.
- Pour into an airtight container and add the chia seeds. Stir until combined.
- Refrigerate for 4 hours to set. The chia seeds will absorb the liquid and become gel-like.
Keeps in the fridge for 7 days.
One serving is 1/4 cup of gel.
Pineapple Green Chia Smoothie
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 banana
- 1/4 cup Anti-inflammatory Green Chia Gel
- Combine ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.