Massaged Kale Avocado Salad

Kale avocado salad in a brown bowl on a wooden surface

Massaged Kale Avocado Salad

Massaged Kale Avocado Salad is one of those recipes you hear about all the time, but I see plenty of people make a version that is underdressed and dry, so isn’t particularly enjoyable.  That stands no chance of turning anyone on to what can be one of the most delicious staples in a healthier way of eating.

Should Kale Be Cooked Or Raw?

Kale can lose some of its nutrition when being cooked.  Antioxidants can be lost.  Vitamin C would be one example.  This is the basis of a raw food meal; that you get to keep these nutrients in the food.

Kale is high in goitrin, which can affect thyroid function because it inhibits the update of iodine.  Cooking the kale deactivates the enzyme responsible for releasing goitrin.

Having said that, you’d have to eat a large amount (about 1kg) of kale every day to experience any negative effects.  That being said, if I already had thyroid issues, I’d be avoiding raw kale completely.

For most people a mix of cooked and raw kale is most likely to be beneficial.

You can read more about this here and here.

For taste purposes, I find kale is more delicious slightly steamed.  Steaming maintains more of the nutrients than boiling in water.  You’re just giving it a 2 minute light steam, so it’s stays springy and goes bright green.

You’ll find the slightly steamed kale takes on the dressing much easier than when it’s raw.

Kale Salad Substitutions

With this base recipe for massaged kale salad, you can make some really nice substitutions and additions.

  • Sundried tomatoes are a great addition.
  • Don’t like avocado? (sorry, what??..) Simply substitute for a few tablespoons of tahini.  Add a teaspoon of maple to take the edge off the bitterness if you like.
  • Not into tahini either?  Go crazy and use a nut butter.  Macadamia would be insanity (in a delightful sense of the word).
  • Add buckwheat sprouts for a nutty flavour and extra protein.
  • Add any other kind of sprouts you like.  Mung bean sprouts provide wonderful texture.
  • Not into tomatoes?  Cucumber is an excellent substitute.  Even if you do like tomatoes, adding cucumber as well is fantastic.
  • Add a little spring onion or red onion.
  • Add garlic or onion powder for depth of flavour.  In fact, I’m not sure why I didn’t do that in this recipe.
  • Don’t like smokiness of chipotle?  Change that out for a smaller mount of cayenne.

Kale salad was my number one staple when I started out in raw food.  I knew it would satisfy me every time.  I could shop for the ingredients and make it without a recipe.  Get a few healthy recipes like that under your belt and you’ll always have go-to healthy meals when you’re stuck for ideas.

Did I miss any substitutions or additions?  What are your favourites?  I’d love it if you would share in the comments, so others can try them.

Rate This Recipe
4.77 from 17 votes

Massaged Kale Avocado Salad

Servings2 people

Nutrition (For one serving)

Calories: 531kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 27gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 654mgPotassium: 1171mgFiber: 6gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 16275IUVitamin C: 211mgCalcium: 318mgIron: 10mg


For the wilted kale

  • 11 oz kale
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine Himalayan salt
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes cut into halves
  • 1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds hemp hearts

For the dressing

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice



  • Remove the kale stems, and then wash and cut the kale into small pieces.
  • Optional but recommended: Steam for 2 minutes until tender.
  • Dry off the kale, transfer to a bowl.
  • Add the avocado and salt to the kale and massage until the avocado is thoroughly broken down.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and combine by hand.  Serve immediately.


Rate This Recipe
4.77 from 17 votes
Did you make this recipe?Tag @therawchef on Instagram or hashtag it #therawchef!

Related: The 10 Proven Health Benefits of Kale – Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. As I mentioned in the post, kale’s nutrition has been shown to be more available when lightly steamed.

Russell James

Post by Russell James

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February 10th, 2019

160 thoughts on “Massaged Kale Avocado Salad”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful, delicious, nourishing and easy recipe! I found some kale yesterday on my way home and tried it out right away. I do like the trick with steaming the kale.

  2. Excellent variation on the strictly raw version Russell! I gave it 5 stars. Here’s a few ideas for a variation – instead of boiling for 2 minutes try parboiling (throw in boiled water for about 10 seconds then plunge into cold water with cold water running over it to ‘shock’ it. That’s the way the Japanese like to do it to maximise the colour and crunchiness of any vegetable.
    To the lady who didn’t have hemp seeds, maybe try sesame seeds. Some chopped raw red capsicum also adds more colour and goodness. For those with a sweet tooth some raisins. I will be trying this when I have a surplus of kale – right now hens in my care are eating most of it!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful, delicious, nourishing and easy recipe! I found some kale yesterday on my way home and tried it out right away. I do like the trick with steaming the kale.

  4. ​Newbie here. This sounds like a great meal.

    Question: This might be a stupid question but would this work with frozen kale or should I keep that for smoothies?

    Question 2: My mom is on a salt restricted diet, is there a way to accomplish the wilted/cooked effect without using salt?

    Question 3: I am a wimp when it comes to spice/heat; will the designated amount of chipotle peppers result in mild, medium or hot heat?

    • 1) I’ve not tried it with frozen kale, but I imagine the kale would be too wilted after defrosting.

      2) No, you’d have to lightly steam it in that case, which I sometimes like to do.

      3) Medium, but maybe to you hot 🙂

  5. HI Russell
    What would I substitute hemp seeds for as am unable to get them in New Zealand. Can’t wait to try this

  6. Thanks for sharing this recipe Russell, going raw in baby steps and this sounds ideal, thanks once again.

  7. Hi Russell.
    Looks yummy. Kale is one of things which I can’t have it because of my Thyroid. Is there anything else I can replace it.? xx

  8. Hi Russell I am from Australia and I have no idea what a chipotle pepper is? If we don’t have that here what can I substitute ? Cheers.

  9. Need to have go.
    Two avocados and olive oil 😉 ???? Any way it is better than bag of crisps ;-).
    Thank you.

  10. Am just about to have my first raw food meal (not counting salads). I wAs too late to try the chipotle recipe, but it is now on my list … Not keen on hot spicy food, so will introduce this new ingredient carefully. Really excited to be joining up with like minded people ?

  11. Great salad . We had it for dinner tonight & even my husband thought it was a keeper

  12. This looks great and I cannot wait to give it a try (the avocado paired with the chipotle already has by interest piqued). I may try substituting the kale with radicchio as it still has the great superfood benefits, but just a different flavor. Either way, this looks great and I look forward to serving it to my family. Thanks!

  13. We have been making your Wilted Kale recipe just about every year for Christmas… and shaped it into an edible Christmas wreath. This recipe has surprised many, even kale “haters” have been converted. Some even say, this is the only way they would eat kale – Wilted Kale Salad. Thanks for a delicious recipe.

  14. Hey russell. Great books. I’ve looked all over for kale in Brighton but can’t find any. I can get spinach, cabbage and another green the name escapes me. What do you recommend as a substitute to kale?

    • Cabbage would be really good.

      Kale has been hard to find recently but I’ve noticed it has come back into stores in London, so you may be able to get it soon from Infinity Cafe.

  15. Hello Russell,
    This salad was delicious! I made it the other day, and was soon reminded that avocado doesn’t agree with my stomach. Would you recommend a substitution for the avocado in this recipe and others that call for it?

  16. Hi Russell I made pesto and marinated mushrooms Christmas Day. OMG fantastic!!!!!! Thank you. I look forward to trying more delish recipes. Cheers Andy

  17. Hi Russell
    I am writing you here because you seem to be excellent at responding to people’s comments beneath your recipes and I have not been able to contact you successfully through direct email. I feel frustrated because I bought all your recipes books online over a week ago, have fully paid for them, but the link for downloading does not work. You ask people via email to contact you directly if there are any problems and I did so several times but no response. Please help. Thank you

  18. This looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it. Kale is one of my favorite foods on the planet. Question- I am still unclear regarding the lemon juice. Is it- 2 Tablespoons plus one cup of lemon juice? Thanks, and thanks for all I’ve learned from you regarding raw food creations.

  19. Hi, I made this salad yesterday and can’t stop eating it. Thanks, I love it and plan to make it over and over again. I plan to try the lasagna today. Thanks!!

  20. Hi, I am new to raw food eating & am starting to look at the recipes you are sending me. They all seem fantastic. Can I ask before I attempt to start a raw food recipe, which one would be an easy & successful one to try first ? Thanks from Australia

  21. Hi there I made this today, but I was confused as to the chipotle part. Do you mean for us to use a whole dried chipotle? I only had canned chipotle the kind in adobe sauce so I removed a chipotle and soaked it. The result was less than steller and the sauce had an odd taste. I think I should have clarified beforehand. About how much water should be added? My sauce started out like mortar, so I think I ended up adding to much!

    • Hi Andrea,

      You’ll need to use a dried chipotle, not one removed from a sauce.

      Soaking the dried chipotle chili will make it soft enough to blend.

      Add enough water to have it be the consistency of reasonably thick yoghurt.

      • I wish I had read this first. I couldn’t find dried chipotle so I also used canned. The dressing was missing something– kind of bland. With dried, does it have more pizazz with out being too spicy?

  22. Russell, I am in Australia and reading your Kale Salad and am wondering what I can use instead of hemp seeds no available here.

        • Flax seeds aren’t particularly digestible in the unsoaked, whole form.

          Chia tend to be a bit hard and grainy in the mouth if unsoaked.

          The issue with soaking either is that they turn very gelatinous, so would not be great to use in a recipe like this.

          If you just wanted to use a sprinkle of either to see how you like them unsoaked, you could certainly give that a go.

    • Good day Gay, you can purchase De-hulled Raw Hemp Seeds, direct from Hemp Foods Australia, these guys are down in Bangalow, NSW. Contact them on Tel: 02-6687-1260. There help you out . Freedom & Peace.

  23. Unfortunately I am highly allergic to raw kale. It caused me stomach pain 3x, and blistered the inside of my mouth and lips last time. I won’t be eating kale again, ever.

  24. Hi Russell I can not buy kale here can I use silver beet or spinach,and get the same effect?

    • You can use them, but since they are a lot softer than kale, you will have to go a lot easier on them when wilting them. To be honest, you might want to miss that stage out completely.

      You could also mix in some shredded cabbage with them to stop it from going too mushy.

  25. Where is the soak water coming from? Are you supposed to soak the Chipotle pepper before it is used in this recipe??

  26. This looks great. I’m definitely going to make it.  I have 2 questions:  About how many cups or handfuls is 11 oz of Kale? Also, is it a mistake in the recipe where it says 2 Tbs and then Cups of Lemon juice?  Is it tablespoons?

  27. I just finished the last bite of this wonderful salad………….heaven.  Thanks, Russell for the great recipe it wil lbecome one of my favorites.

  28. You should really specify in your recipe what kind of salt you’re using to wilt your kale.  There’s a huge difference between coarse kosher salt and running table salt; one may not be enough and the other may be too salty.

    • Hi, sure – I would only use Himalyan salt, definitely never table salt as it has no nutritional value.

      Course will not work either, that needs to be ground for it to get into the kale.

      • Did you mean “coarse” salt? What about Mediterranean or plain Sea salts? I understand they have a different pH and they trigger a more alkaline pH in the body as well…
        What about those with iodized labeling?

        • Yes, thanks.

          The Mediterranean salt and seas salts I have seen are always white, which they are not supposed to be. I only use salt that has a colour still in it, such as Himalayan (pink), celtic (grey). There are many other coloured salts too.

          Using coloured salts means that the mineral content is still intact.

          I have read that Himalayan salt balances your body Ph, but I haven’t seen how that compares to regular sea salt, as I don’t use it.

          You only need to use iodized salt if you feel you’re low in iodine, and don’t get it from any other source. Sea salts like Celtic sea salt contains trace amounts of iodine. A better source would be seaweeds.

  29. Here they only sell loose leaves of kale. How much gram do you recommend when you say it calls for 2 heads? Can’t wait to try to make this (: Thx for sharing. Looking forward to your answer. Thx Russell!

  30. I love Kale! This salad is delicious! I crave it now and sometimes I wish I could eat it everyday. Variety is the spice of life though, so I will definitely be trying more of your amazing recipes. 

  31. Once you wilt the kale with the salt, do you rinse the salt off prior to adding the other ingredients?

  32. I would really love to see your take on creating indian classic dishes raw vegan style! especially how to create a raw vegan version of the classic masala dosa with coconut chutney and a sambar!!! 

  33. I love this salad,  make a double or triple batch because you will want to eat more of it. it’s so good! 🙂

  34. Actually salt is very healthy for the body to maintain its internal homeostasis. your kidneys believe it or not actually need it in order to function correctly with in the loop of hindley for water re-absorption. The salt is also good for your body’s nervous system in that it helps conduct the nerve impulses with in the body, the sodium being a metal acts as an excellent conductor. Very High amounts of salt are not recommended for the body but exact quantities very from person to person depending on lifestyle factors such as, levels exercise, diet, and family history health history. Sea salt is also a great source of trace minerals as well as other electrolytes. 🙂

    • Charlotte Gerson (daughter of Dr Max Gerson) turns 90 this year. She is obnoxiously healthy, uses computers, send e-mails and browses through new medical journals (so her mind is sharp & healthy too.  She was born into a salt free home and has never willingly eaten salt in her life and says it’s harmful to the human body.  I think 90 years and still going strong is a pretty good test of if a lack of salt will harm us.

      • Thanks, Jane.

        I tend to be using less salt these days.

        I think though, to say that no salt is good because Charlotte Gerson is 90 and doesn’t use it, and using that as proof, is less than conclusive.

        There’s plenty of 90 year olds that use salt.  I would also say that everything else she does also contributes to her health, not just having limited salt intake.

    • In addition to Gaby’s response… the type of salt that you are referring to that is not good for the body is in fact table salt which is a man made salt. Our body needs, and  utilizes the salt from the earth. This includes sea salts and another excellent salt is The Original Himalayan Crystal Salt.
      I hope this helps. 

  35. I’m in love! Just made this and ate it. It’s surprisingly filling and fantastically yummy!
    Thanks Russell

  36. Ha! 4 years since the original post – and here I am – a newbie – eating kale and avocado salad – and all my questions already answered below! I over-glugged the agave and ended up with something a tad on the sweet side – will be more careful next time!

  37. Hi Russell!

    OMG this is my FAVORITE salad! I crave it. I simply cannot wait to make more of your recipes. They are so much simpler than many others I have tried. Thank you for sharing your passion

  38. Ohhh! I just made this, as a matter of fact I am just eating it. I knew it would be good! I just had to use savoy cabbage(??) as no kale in this country. I’ll keep looking for kale because I am going to make this to all my friends and family, I love it.

    ..and anyway your website is so inspirational and beautiful, thank you. And once I thought raw food would be dull, mhah!

  39. This recipe makes for a perfect Christmas dish. We use our biggest round serving dish and shape the Wilted Kale Salad into a wreath… then, place crackers in the center. We’ve been making this recipe as a wreath every Christmas for the last 3 years. People really love the way it looks and tastes!

  40. Russell,
    I made this dish for lunch today. It was awesome! So hearty and a real filler. It is Sunday and our health food store is closed, so I went to our local grocer and found pine nuts to substitute for the hemp seeds. It was so delicious! I also liked how quickly I could make this – work full time and making quick raw food dishes is very appealing.

  41. Russell!

    You are a genius!

    I made this for myself yesterday and it was amazing! Just utterly delightful… Who knew kale could be this good??

    I didn’t use chipotle peppers, and I forgot to add the hemp seeds! But it still turned out to be awesome 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing this, and I can’t wait to try your other recipes!

    With lots of love and gratitude,

  42. Am currently eating this recipe as I write.
    Party in my mouth!!!!!

    I’ll be so sad when my bowl reaches empty. Thank you for posting such a gorgeous recipe!

  43. Hi Russell,

    Looks very delicious.
    How much is 4 heads of kale in cups or grams?
    Can I use something else instead of the hemp seeds or leave them out? (I have sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds)

    Thanks 🙂

    From Russell: Use around 1kg of kale and the hemp seeds can be left out or replaced with any of your favourite seeds.

  44. Hi Russell,

    Great recipe. A few questions.

    Can I substitute hulled hemp seeds with hulled sesame seeds?

    Can I substitute agave with raisins or honey?

    (I live in Asia, American ingredients are hard to find.)

    From Russell:

    Yes to both questions! Honey would be better than raisins.

  45. I made this today- didn’t have everything (hemp seeds) so added sunflower, and used a regular tomatoe. I can’t wait to try it tomorrow since I heard it was better the second day. yum!

  46. OK, I have looked and looked for you recipe book, not seeing it. Do you have one? If so, what’s the title? -Rita.A.W.

    From Russell: Wow, so many people asking me for a book! Thanks 🙂 It’s a work in progress.

  47. I love kale-avocado salad so very much and I can’t wait to try this version. Regarding concern about the salt, you can always rinse the kale when you’re done wilting it!

    From Russell: That’s very true, yes you can. In fact I have done that before when needing to tone down the saltiness, thanks for reminding me 🙂

  48. I would like to try this recipe out, but I am really concerned about the amount of salt that’s being used. Is there any way to cut it down to at least half the amount or omit it entirely?

    From Russell: Hi Nicole. The kale won’t wilt without the use of salt so you can’t omit it entirely, but you can try using half the amount, yes. Remember the amounts shown are for a big batch to serve up to 6 people, so if you’re making a smaller portion for just you the salt used would be only 1 teaspoon or less.

  49. Please specify the type of chipotles used in this recipe. Found some canned, but the ingredient list didn’t look good. Also found some dried from Frontier. I have looked in a few different groceries stores in my area with no luck. Help…

    From Russell: Hi Kristi, use the dried ones and soak them until they are fully reconstituted, this could take several hours or overnight. Hope that helps.

  50. I live in France (Paris) and, as far as I know, can’t get kale here. Is there another green that could make a good substitution for kale? Thanks so much….

    From Russell: Spinach works well and doesn’t need to be softened as much.

  51. i made 2 versions…with and without chipotles. the one with chipotles is a far better recipe. it is so good. the next day its even better. it starts to get a cheesy flavor. mmmmm

  52. I’m a little confused by the wilting directions. You pour the salt on the stemless kale leaves and then rub them until they are “cooked”? How long does this take? Do you rub them constantly? This looks like a great recipe.

    From Russell: The “wilting directions”? Are you saying my directions are wilting ? Lol. Okay, the wilting: mix the salt with the kale and massage for about 30 seconds to a minute, by which time the kale should have wilted, you’ll see what I mean when you try it.

  53. Russell,
    I’ve been meaning to try this recipe since you posted it last Dec & made it today. It is by far the GREATEST kale dish I have every tasted. I am so hooked & sent my husband out to get more kale today as I will be eating this daily!

    Thanks for such a great blog & awesome recipes.


  54. Hi Melissa, chipotle peppers are smoked jalepinos, so yes, it would work, but you wouldn’t get the smoked flavour in the salad. Test the spicyness before adding the chilli powder.

  55. would it work if i used fresh jalapeno peppers with the spices? should i leave out the chilli pepper?

  56. Caroline,

    I would start with something like 2t onion powder, 2t cumin, 1t chilli powder, 1t garlic powder and 1T tamari/nama shoyu and adjust to your taste.

  57. Just so you know, this salad has been a favorite amongst clients and friends… I made it for a bunch of us attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition who are staying with me and we took it for lunch for two days straight. You’re keeping us alive!

    P.S. I got the camera…and the lense! Watch out world!

  58. Hi Russell!

    I FINALLY got to try the salad. There was never any left over at The Plant for me to enjoy! Now I had it ALL to myself. My husband loved it too. Thanks for sharing your recipe. It was awesome.

    NYC misses you!


  59. This is the greatest salad in the world!!!! We miss it so much here at The Plant! I think i’ve had dreams about it.

    This recipe is perfect for getting your greens, is sooo filling, and is nice and tender instead of leafy and chewy.

    Awesome recipe! I have a little variation, too (hope you don’t mind, Russell!): use sesame tahini instead of a avocado to get an extra calcium boost! Woo!


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