By DAVID GREEN
I was thinking back this morning, trying to remember where it all started, where I first got the desire to drink kale. I still eat it steamed and mixed into stir fry and other solid meals, but I also wanted to drink it down.
I think it's because of a friend of a friend who went on a juice diet for a full month. I was not interested in doing that, but I was interested in learning more about her experience. She has a juicer and dumps all sorts of vegetables and fruit into it. I wasn't interested in doing that, either. A juicer takes out all the fiber and you've got to have that.
Why kale? It's supposed to be the best vegetable out there—the most nutritious of them all—and it's such a generous plant. I'm overrun with kale in my garden. I have a dozen plants plus two volunteers that returned from last year and I can't keep up. I could eat it three times a day and still not keep up. I needed a new way to get it inside me so I bought a blender.
The juice woman warned me that pineapple is the essential ingredient to make raw kale palatable, but I didn't heed her warning. I went with what was available in the house. I suffered.
First attempt: kale, yogurt, a little maple syrup, two strawberries, a little banana.
The first swallow was OK, but it's such an odd experience because it's such an odd looking drink. So green and with such an odd odor. It's either disgusting or intriguing. Your choice.
After that first swallow or two, the experience went downhill. I finally had to force it down. A smarter person would have dumped it down the drain, but I hate to waste food. I hate to waste "food." There was something reminiscent of paint, perhaps, or turpentine. It was something familiar that doesn’t belong in the mouth, but I certainly wasn't about to give up so easily.
Second attempt: kale, almond milk, two almonds, two strawberries, an apple, an ice cube, cinnamon and honey.
This was much easier—I didn't have to force it down—but that over-powering flavor remained, and it remained as an after-taste.
I needed more fruit, younger kale. I could have pronounced the experiment over and simply dug into my wife's extensive dark chocolate stash, but now I had something to prove.
Third attempt: I picked three kale stalks from high on the plant. I added half a banana, four strawberries, honey, a dollop of peanut butter, a good shake of cinnamon, an ice cube, almond milk and three almonds.
This actually wasn't bad. I drank with ease, but it was only slightly above tolerable and that wasn't enough. I wanted something that actually tasted good. I knew I was progressing because the after-taste was quite pleasant. It made me want more, but I wasn't that foolish. That would have to wait for another day.
I was still operating without pineapple. Maybe that really was the key. Raw kale has such a powerful flavor to overcome and it must be conquered.
Fourth attempt: half a cup of almond milk, an apple, four almonds, honey, ice cube, cinnamon, half of a lemon squeezed, almond butter. That might be all. I also picked younger kale.
It was edible, although certainly not something to be described as delicious. There are weirdos across the country drinking kale shakes. It has to get better than this, but it was time to take a break for a couple of days, to clear that taste out of my head.
Fifth attempt: almond milk, an ice cube, four banana slices, three stalks worth of kale, four strawberries, a dollop of peanut butter, 10 almonds, a squirt of honey, and finally, six chunks of pineapple.
It wasn't flavorful fresh pineapple, but it still produced something I could drink.
Sixth attempt: pretty much the same recipe but with more peanut butter and pineapple, a little vanilla and some pineapple juice.
It’s now advanced beyond tolerable and into the range of good, but I'm not stopping there. The tomatoes are starting to ripen and the next challenge is to make a vegetable version. Red plus green should make a disgusting brown frothy mess that even a pineapple won't save.