Fifty Shades of Kale: “An Enticing Seductress”

Jennifer Iserloh wants to lead us to "an enticing seductress" with the power to "enchant and hold us prisoner." Are we talking handcuffs on the bedpost? No, says Iserloh with a wink, the action she touts in her new book, Fifty Shades of Kale, takes place in the kitchen.

“Nothing is sexier," the Hoboken author says, "than a sharp, happy mind atop a lean healthy body. Few foods are able to deliver this promise like kale.”

Whipping the bawdy bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey for as many tongue-in-cheek references as possible,  Iserloh and Drew Ramsey, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, first self-published Fifty Shades of Kale as an ecookbook on Amazon in October, 2012. In two weeks, it was downloaded 27,000 times, attracting the attention of HarperCollins. The book was redesigned, beautifully photographed by Ian McSpadden and published in hardcover last July.

“Kale is the king of the superfood kingdom,”
says Iserloh, who lives in Hoboken with her husband, Ulrich, and two bulldogs. “It is just worlds above other vegetables in terms of nutrition. It is versatile, cheap as dirt and so accessible.”

Kale, she points out, is packed with vitamins K, C and A, calcium and beneficial omega-3 fatty acid. Studies have shown that it can prevent the absorption of fat and lower cholesterol. It is also “a veritable medicine chest of healthy molecules known as phytonutrients that boost your body’s natural ability to detox,” she says, asserting that kale can also help prevent colon, breast and liver cancers.

Iserloh, who admits to being "40-something," has a master’s degree in French Literature. She also has certifications from the Institute of Culinary Education and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Fifty Shades of Kale is her 17th book. She is also the author of Secrets of a Skinny Chef (2010). As if all that isn’t enough, she is an experienced yoga teacher.

Dr. Ramsey, by the way, grows 50 (of course) varieties of kale on his farm in Indiana.

Fifty Shades of Kale wraps its 50 recipes in sassy chapter titles like “Submit to Her Charms,” “Morning Quickies,” “Get Satisfied” and “Naughty and Nice."

For breakfast, try Lox Me Up and Throw Away the Key–a muffin topped with kale-scallion cream cheese and smoked salmon.

Lunch or dinner could be Thai’d Up Shrimp–a skillet of shrimp, kale, bean sprouts and chili sauce over rice noodles.

Does kale retreat to the sidelines for dessert? Not a chance. Iserloh gives it cameos in fudge pops, sorbet and chocolate chip cookies.

“There’s real awareness building around these uber-nutrition foods,” Iserloh says. “My goal is to educate people, that they can take these wonderful foods and turn them into really sexy meals.”

Recipes from Fifty Shades of Kale
By Drew Ramsey, M.D. and Jennifer Iserloh


One 10-ounce bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 10 cups)
6 carrots
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced or thinly sliced
1 ½ cups Kale-onaise (below)

Fit a food processor with the shredder attachment. Shred the kale and carrots and transfer both to a large bowl. Add the bell pepper and Kale-onaise and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight before serving.



2 cups packed chopped kale
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise, (organic if possible)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

In a food processor, combine kale leaves, salt, and garlic. Process until finely chopped. Add the mayonnaise and lemon zest and juice and process until smooth.


8 ounces wide rice noodles
1/3 cup lime juice
1/3 cup water
4 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons chili sauce, such as Sriracha
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
½ pound peeled and deveined wild shrimp
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups bean sprouts
4 scallions, thinly sliced
5 ounces kale, trimmed and chopped (about 5 cups)
½ cup packed chopped cilantro leaves

Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and add boiling water to cover. Soak for 20 minutes, or until softened but not mushy. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, water, fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, chili sauce, and 1 tablespoon oil. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, shallot, and shrimp and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Add the eggs, stir, and scramble until just moist.

Add the cooked noodles, lime juice mixture, walnuts, sprouts, and scallions. Using a pair of tongs or 2 large spoons, toss until the noodles are evenly coated. Add the kale and cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes more. Add the cilantro and serve immediately.


SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at

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