the kale salad to my heart

(gluten and dairy-free, too!)

Oh friends, do I have a salad for youuuuuu….

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Soft kale with a creamy dressing, plus crunchy almonds, celery bites and savory scallions

This one was very much inspired by a recent trip to the co-op. Usually when we go there, we’ll just grab a couple of essentials, but lately, I’ve been trying out some of their salads and deli goodies. They have a full deli upstairs, and while it’s much smaller than a hot bar, they offer an incredible selection of salads, vegan dishes, soups and desserts. I tried a small container of their Super Kale Salad, and thankfully, all of the ingredients were on the container so I could attempt my own later 😉

The goods:

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For the kale, I used the pre-bagged stuff from Trader Joe’s. I do my best to pick out the ribs, but sometimes a few end up in there anyway. 

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The final product tasted EXACTLY like their version, and is something I’ll be making frequently. I never would have thought to pair almond butter with mashed avocado, and the result is like a glorious nutrient-dense vegan mayo. So, so good!

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Savory Kale Salad

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A creamy twist on the kale salad using avocado and almond butter as the *mayo.* Enjoy by itself or atop quinoa for a nutrient-dense and delicious lunch!

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 6 cups of kale (unpacked), ribs removed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 mashed avocado
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly chopped
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1 bunch of scallions (thinly slice and use the green tops)


  1. 1. In a large bowl, lightly spritz the kale with Bragg’s before massaging with your hands to break down the kale. Remember that a little goes a long way and you can always add more! Add the garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.
  2. 2. In a smaller separate bowl, mix the mashed avocado with the almond butter. If the almond butter is thick, you may need to add a drizzle of olive oil to thin it out.
  3. 3. Pour the avocado-almond butter mixture on top of the kale, and using your hands, massage to coat well. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  4. 4. Add the almonds, scallions and celery, and stir well to combine.
  5. 5. Feast!


  • Serving Size: 4

This is random, but it turns out that this salad makes awesome road trip food, too 😉 I packed some up with a fork, and it was the perfect afternoon snack.

Photo 192


Hope you’re enjoying the day!

Any awesome salad combos lately?

More of my favorite kale recipes:

jalapeño salsa kale chips

the best kale chips 

Kale Caesar



PS. I’ll be teaching at a beach bash for Ocean Spray’s new fitness water (PACt Cranberry Extract Water) in Hermosa Beach next Thursday, October 23. Please come join me for some awesome fitness classes -my friend Cassey is teaching, too!- just RSVP for your spot via this link. I’ll be leading the Zumba and barre classes, and can’t wait to work out with some of you 🙂 xo

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  1. haley @Cupcakes and on October 16, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I’m OBSESSED with Kale. Crave it 24/7. Making it.

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      hahah i hope you love it! i almost ate the entire batch… SO GOOD

  2. Clara on October 16, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Im excited to be heading that way in about a month! Looking for a coffee shop with a view of the ocean to get some work done, any ideas?

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      so awesome! i haven’t been here, but i just googled for you and this looks awesome:
      i’ll go check it out before you get here!

      • Clara on October 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

        Wow, thanks!! My brothers that MCAS Miramar, it’ll be a fun trip!

  3. sue on October 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    i used to despise kale but after learning the massaging trick to soften it, i am now all about the kale! this is definitely on my to-make list! thanks for sharing!

  4. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on October 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    This salad looks delicious! Wish I was in Hermosa so I could take your class. That will be so much fun. Have a great Thursday!

  5. Christa @ Living Unbalanced on October 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Yummm!! Is it sad how happy I get when I already have all the ingredients to something?

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      haha i’m the same way!!

  6. Sharon T on October 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I love your Kale Caesar salad. I made it for my husband as part of Father’s Day. He was way impressed. 😉

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      so awesome!!!

  7. Amanda on October 16, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Yum! I love avocado dressings. What would you suggest as a substitute for liquid aminos?

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      Tamari or any type of soy sauce would work!

  8. Alex on October 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Kale is hands down my favorite veggie!! I love eating it in different prepared manners, and I can’t wait to try this one. Health boosting fats-almond butter and avocado? So yummy! Such a different combo but excited to try it.

  9. Kaila @healthyhelperblog! on October 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Nut butter and liquid aminos…..ON POINT. I love mixing aminos with peanut butter to make a salty peanut butter sauce! This salad looks AWESOME. Loooooove raw kale, especially when it’s massages with creamy goodness.

  10. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on October 16, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Yum salad! Who would think almond butter, avocado and kale would make such a great combo.

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      right? it blew my mind haha

  11. Carrie (This Fit Chick) on October 16, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    this is massive!! I’m about to dig into a spinach salad.. wish I had seen this beforehand!

  12. Mary on October 16, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I am going to try this!

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      yay, let me know what you think 🙂

  13. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on October 16, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    This sounds wicked Gina! I’ve found that I’m better off lightly steaming my kale before using it in salads (or other dishes) for digestive reasons, but I’m sure this dressing would be amazing either way. My fave salad mix-ins right now are roasted red peppers, roasted brussels sprouts and cubes of butternut squash. So so good!

  14. Tina on October 16, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    This recipe looks like a winner! Kale + avocado is always a win for me, until I tried kale + tahini….game changer.

  15. Jenn on October 16, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Did someone get a light box?! Your pics look great and the recipe even better!

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      wow, thank you so much! nope, i just took them outside 🙂

  16. Run wright on October 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I just bought kale today and this looks like a perfect recipe to try. Love the way it sounds. Avocado. Almonds and kale are some of my fav things so can’t wait to taste the combo.

  17. Kay on October 16, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I just had my first tea leaf salad, and literally, there are no words for how delicious it was.

    I keep asking my boyfriend to go out for burmese, just to eat that salad. It’s a problem.

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      tea leaf salad?! i didn’t even know this was a thing. i must find one 🙂

  18. lois on October 16, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Have u tried the sweet kale salad mix from Costco? It comes with kale, green cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, chicory, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and a poppy seed dressing. Yum yum!

    • Fitnessista on October 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      no, but that sounds incredible! i will definitely be on the lookout

  19. diana on October 16, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    omgosh. i must try this! looks so yum!

  20. Angela @ HonestlyAngela on October 17, 2014 at 12:39 am

    I love how simple and unique this recipe is! I am always looking for ways to switch up a salad. I will be trying this for sure!

  21. Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out on October 17, 2014 at 3:11 am

    woah…this looks amazing!

  22. Tina Muir on October 17, 2014 at 4:16 am

    This sounds SO good, and if it features almond butter as a primary ingredient, I am SOLD! I love making my own though, then I can add whatever mix ins I want. I love just eating it by the spoonful…..okay, back to kale! This does sound very very good, and I am pinning RIGHT NOW to make it.

  23. Hayley@healthyregardshayley on October 17, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Ooooo yum! Can’t wait to try this (:

  24. Kristen on October 17, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Yum! My salad game has been on point lately, too – I think it’s the fall flavors! I made an ACV-shallot-honey (+ s&p, pinch of red pepper flakes) vinaigrette, tossed it with arugula and TJ’s Power to the Greens mix, and topped it with chopped apple, pomegranate arils, avocado orange flavored craisins, crushed TJ’s sweet&spicy pecans, and goat cheese. On day 2 I added a sliced up apple chicken sausage. So SOOOOO good. My coworkers all had lunch envy.

  25. Alexandria @ Al2getherfit on October 17, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Will def be making that salad! Almond butter & avocado?! Sounds too Interesting NOT to try. Thanks!

  26. Meg @ A Dash of Meg on October 17, 2014 at 8:56 am

    mmmmm yes please

  27. Tracy on October 17, 2014 at 10:30 am

    My gosh this sounds insanely good! I love a good kale salad. And the fact that they are so sturdy and get better as time passes is a huge bonus!

  28. Maggie on October 17, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I can’t wait to try this. I haven’t thought of avocado + almond butter either. As I don’t eat mayo, this may get tossed into the nut-based dressing rotation I have.

  29. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine on October 18, 2014 at 3:14 am

    I love those ingredients! I’ll be making that this week once I get my hands on some kale. Beautiful, and I love all the crunch and creaminess!

  30. Summer on October 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Made this salad! It was awesome!

  31. Tara | Treble in the Kitchen on October 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

    This kale salad look SO yummy!! 🙂

  32. Emma on October 21, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    this is amazing! made it the other night and it was so good. will be making it again tonight for my family- yum!! thanks gina!

    • Fitnessista on October 22, 2014 at 7:58 am

      happy you all liked it! i can’t wait to make it again, too 🙂

  33. Julianna on October 23, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Gina this was SO GOOD!!!!! Like, best salad I have had in my entire life good. Thank you so much for posting this!

    • Fitnessista on October 23, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      ahhhh!!! so so happy you loved it. i’m obsessed with it, too 🙂 xoxo

  34. Tara | Treble in the Kitchen on October 27, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Yum! Made this last night and it was DELISH!

  35. Quinn on December 6, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    OMG! Made this salad tonight, INCREDIBLE. I might have to pick up more kale tomorrow, I think I might be obsessed.

  36. Jennifer on June 29, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    How many servings does this make? Looks good!

  37. Susie on August 21, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    I just made this and put it in my mouth. DELICIOUS!!! Thank you!!

    • Fitnessista on August 22, 2017 at 11:02 am

      so glad you liked it, too! one of my very faves <3

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