Oil Free Cilantro Tahini Kale Salad

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It’s the new year! Let’s celebrate with this oil free cilantro tahini kale salad!
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or goals? I make goals for the new year…but not resolutions. I don’t think resolutions are bad. I just like goals better. They are like short sprints that I know I can get done instead of a marathon which is super tough. For instance your resolution might be to remove oil from your diet! That sounds super intimidating. BUT if you make a goal to eat oil free for one meal a week, then for an entire week, it makes your resolution much more attainable! 

Oil Free Goals

In reality, my goals are more like a to do list.
And usually it is more a short term goal list.
Okay! Okay! I admit. That sounds like a to – do list.
But I am a routine person and I like to make small to do list daily goals that I can check off and feel good about.
And that is A – Ok.
It is goals for the day or one might call them…resolutions for the day.
Do what you can live with. And just try to be a little better today than you were yesterday.

If your goal is to be oil – free, start with just a recipe or two. Learn how to substitute water for oil, or use vegetable broth instead of oil. Commit to one meal a week oil-free! Then commit to one week of oil – free! Baby steps until you get to your oil free goal. 
Kale + Goals

So what do kale and goals have to do with each other?

When I went vegan plant based almost a year ago, I learned about the whole oil free debate. And decided that my family should cut back on oil. Not because oil is ultimately awful, but with a history of heart disease in my family, and with just in general over consumption of greasy food in our world, my husband and I felt that using minimal at home was a great idea! We are not completely oil free, but we now consider using oil in salad dressing a treat! 

Omitting oil out of our diet though did leave me with a kale salad issue. Kale is best massaged up to 24 hours in advance with a good dressing. Often the dressing will contain oil! It makes those curly kale leaves soft! And also delicious and palatable.
My husband and I really love kale salad prepared in advance with the massaged kale salad technique.
Cutting back on oil in salad dressings, I wondered how that would work with kale. So I just ended up not using kale. Almost all summer long last year.
We missed it. So much that at the random times we had it, my husband was like, yeah KALE! (and how many husbands cheer about kale?!)
I knew I needed a few oil-free kale salad dressings that tasted good but still achieved that kale leaf softening effect.
Guess what?
This works. Using tahini works! So does nut butters and cashew based dressings. Check out our Kale salad with lime almond butter dressing – it has no oil and is delicious made completely of whole food plant based ingredients. Our kale salad with pumpkin tahini is another great dressing that is oil free! 
With any of these kale salad though, you still need to prep your kale in advance. And give it a little love massage. Yes, you heard that right, after your dressing is made, pour it over your kale and massage it in really really well! Then cover and let it sit in the fridge for 12 + hours.
This kale salad turned out sooo good.
And it is healthier for you too!
Win. Win. Win for OIL FREE. If your goal is to use less oil this year, try this oil free salad recipe! Packed full of whole food plant based ingredients, you will love how great your body feels after eating this salad bowl. 

If you make this salad, we would love to know tag @badtothebowl on social media.



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Cilantro Tahini Dressing with Kale

Course: Salads


Cilantro Tahini Dresing

  • 1/2 cup cilantro , loosely packed
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice , freshly squeezed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons tahini , runny
  • 1 garlic clove , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper


  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • roasted vegetables, tortilla strips, guacamole, salsa, nuts, rice , optional


  • De-stem kale, chop in small pieces and place leaves in large bowl.
  • Sprinkle kale with pinch of salt
  • Place all remaining ingredients in blender, blend until smooth
  • Pour dressing over kale in bowl and massage kale until mixed in.
  • Cover and store in fridge for 8 – 12 + hours.
  • When kale is ready to eat, taste and sprinkle with more salt as needed.
  • Top with whatever else you would like! Some ideas: roasted vegetables, tortilla strips, guacamole, salsa, nuts, rice… the ideas are endless!

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