Ways to make kale less terrible

Look, the taste of kale is . . . acquired. The bitter flavor of these leafy greens isn't something you can just throw in a salad bowl, mix with some dressing, and instantly fall in love with. But even if you don't love kale the first time you try it, that doesn't mean you should firmly plant it in the "disgusting vegetables" column and walk away from it forever.

Like all leafy greens, kale is low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals. In fact, a single cup of chopped kale contains well over 100 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamins A, C, and K, and delivers 25 percent of your recommended intake of manganese. In other words, kale does a body good, and it is possible to enjoy the flavor, you just have to know how to prepare it.

Kale and egg breakfast "muffins"

Truly, your best bet when it comes to adding kale to your daily diet is to mask its flavor in casseroles or soups that meld vegetables, meats, and cheeses in a single dish. One easy way to add vegetables to your diet first thing in the morning is to whip up a batch of grab-and-go breakfast cups featuring kale as a sneaky ingredient.

Easy, make-ahead "muffins," like this recipe from Taste and See, include kale, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and onions, then turn what would otherwise be viewed as a salad into a baked omelet or crustless quiche by mixing them together with eggs, chicken sausage, and feta cheese. Whip up a batch on Sunday night, then eat them all week as an easy prepared breakfast.

Kale grilled cheese

Who says grilled cheese has to be boring? You can give it a healthy makeover with the addition of kale leaves while simultaneously masking the bitter flavor of the leafy greens behind the melty-goodness of cheese.

You can use almost any cheese to whip up a sandwich to your liking, but this recipe for parmesan kale grilled cheese from ifoodreal sounds particularly tasty. By using two flavors of cheese, particularly a cheese with a strong, nutty flavor, like parmesan, the taste of the kale fades into the background.

Chicken and kale quinoa bowls

All right, so you may have to work your way up to enjoying what amounts to a kale salad, but when you're ready to take on the full flavor of kale, there's no better way to do it than by combining it with a full lineup of other flavorful foods.

This chicken and kale quinoa bowl from ifoodreal admittedly uses raw kale as its base, but with every bite you also enjoy chicken, mango, black beans, quinoa, avocado, and cilantro, all mixed together for a south-of-the-border experience. Trust me, you'll barely notice the kale at all.

Kale pineapple smoothie

When it comes to the flavor of leafy greens, I always say "when in doubt, blend it out." Throwing kale in a blender with banana, pineapple, Greek yogurt, and a touch of honey, as is done in this recipe from Well Plated, all but completely eliminates any hint of kale. Best of all? Even if you can't taste the kale, you still get credit for eating it.

Kale stuffed sweet potatoes

As a general rule, I don't like kale or sweet potatoes, but when you mix them together, something magical happens. I don't know what it is, but the flavor combination really works, and is helped all the more by the addition of garlic, cheese, and bacon, as demonstrated in the kale stuffed sweet potatoes recipe developed by Jenn at Peas & Crayons.

Of course, nutritionally, it's hard to beat. In addition to the vitamins and minerals in kale, you also enjoy about six grams of fiber and four grams protein in a single cup of sweet potatoes, plus the vitamins and minerals in this deep orange veggie.

Turkey chili with kale

Adding kale to soups and chili is one of my personal favorite ways to eat this leafy green. You see, kale holds its shape and texture better than spinach when cooked, so it doesn't get the slimy, gross texture you get from Popeye's favorite veggie.

If you're looking for a hearty recipe, full of protein, fiber, and kale, try the Vintage Mixer's recipe for turkey chili. The trick is to add kale to your soup just a couple minutes before it's ready to eat, that way the leaves take on a "just wilted" appearance, as well as a slightly more mild flavor than when in its raw state.

Roasted garlic kale hummus

Between the flavors of tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and garbanzo beans, there is no way you're going to taste the flavor of kale in The Garlic Diaries' recipe for kale hummus. Granted, there's not a whole lot of kale in this recipe to begin with (just five leaves to give the hummus a pretty green hue), but hey, baby steps, right? Every little bit counts.

Kale pesto pizza

So kale pizza is pretty much just a different version of a kale grilled cheese sandwich. All the same basic ingredients are there — bread, cheese, and kale, of course. But there's something about pizza that just hits the spot, and when kale is layered with cheese, it's kinda hard to hate.

The blogger at Cookie and Kate put together a pretty awesome recipe for kale pesto pizza that actually uses kale on the pizza and in the pesto recipe, so you're getting a double-whammy of kale without even noticing. How's that for a pretty good nutritional deal?

Kale and tortellini alfredo

If you want to wow your partner with a delicious Italian dish, but you also want to add some greens to your plate, consider this recipe for kale and tortellini alfredo from The Midnight Baker. It looks fancy, but it's surprisingly easy — just a package of three cheese tortellini, blanched kale, bacon, and a homemade alfredo sauce.

As with many of the other recipes featured here, the kale is cooked slightly, toning down its bitter flavor, then it's combined with other strong-flavored foods (cheese and bacon, in this case) to help it fade into the background. And hey, worst case scenario? You eat a little, then push it aside. The kale isn't baked into the tortellini, so it's easy to avoid if you decide you can't take more than a few bites.

Cheese-flavored kale chips

Kale chips are like the gateway drug for other kale foods. When they're cooked well, they become addictive. The trick, of course, is cooking them well.

Because kale is such a thin vegetable, you have to keep an eye on it in the oven to ensure you don't accidentally burn it. A great recipe to try is this one for cheese-flavored kale chips from Platings and Parings. The addition of nutritional yeast and spices helps give them an almost Doritos-like nacho cheese flavor certain to please almost any palate.

Keep on trying kale

Whether you blend it, grill it, or bake it up, there are lots of ways to incorporate kale into your diet without choking down the leaves raw. And even if you don't like the flavor the first couple times you try it, keep on trying. The nutritional density of kale is worth the effort.

Of course, kale isn't the only nutritionally-dense leafy green vegetable out there — spinach, chard, and arugula are just a few other options — but the best way to fill up your proverbial vitamin and mineral tank is to regularly eat a wide variety of colorful vegetables and fruits. Variety, after all, is the spice of life, and developing an appreciation for kale is a great way to keep your body full, focused, and firing on all cylinders.