Kale, Brown Rice, and Veggie Salad

Kale Brown Rice and Veggie Salad overhead - NeuroReserve

This Kale, Brown Rice, and Veggie Salad is sweet and savory (and crunchy too!), and it’s bursting with brain-healthy nutrients. Kale and other dark leafy greens, including spinach, arugula, and collard greens, contain kaempferol, a flavonol that’s been strongly linked to reduce cognitive decline and the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, kaempferol has anti-inflammatory properties, which also play a positive role in brain health.

To add ease to this recipe—and mealtime in general—turn to nourishing convenience ingredients. For this salad, grab a carton of pre-washed baby kale (or spinach), boil-in-a-bag of microwavable brown rice, and pecan pieces. And feel free to customize the ingredients to your family’s liking. Swap pecans with walnuts, sliced almonds, or shelled pistachios; add toasted pumpkin seeds for even more crunch; try cooked quinoa or wild rice instead of brown rice; or give the salad a Tex-Mex spin with cilantro (instead of parsley) and lime juice (instead of lemon juice). To transform this sumptuous side dish into a main meal, top each colorful bowl with MIND Diet-friendly protein foods, such as cooked shrimp, salmon, chickpeas, roasted chicken, or canned tuna.

Kale, Brown Rice, and Veggie Salad

Created by Liz Weiss, MS, RDN
Makes 6 Servings (1 cup each)


  • 4 cups packed baby kale or baby spinach, roughly chopped Option: Set half the leaves aside and keep them whole.
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice or other whole grain
  • 3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice, about 1½ cups
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • A few pinches/teaspoon black pepper
  • Drizzle of honey


  • Place the kale, rice, onions, celery, bell pepper, parsley, pecans, and cranberries in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  • To make the dressing, place the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, and honey in a small container with a tight-fitting lid, and shake to combine.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.