Super Food Fall Salad
It's officially fall! I love changing seasons. The crisp smell of the cool autumn air, fiery reds, yellows and oranges dancing in the trees, sweaters and hot tea.
I'm currently drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte Nitro Stout brewed by Breckenridge Brewery. And yes, it's as good as it sounds.
We're in the sweet spot of fall where summer produce is still hanging on, but the fall seasonal veggies are just beginning to appear. And so, in homage to autumn, I want to introduce you to my new favorite fall salad featuring some foods that are so amazing, they truly deserve the title "Superfood."
I made this salad a few days ago for a cooking demonstration at a health fair, and it received rave reviews. So if you've been a bit wary about sampling kale, this might be a good place to start.
Plus, the ingredients in this salad are the bomb-diggity. Let me tell you (albeit briefly) just why they're so fantastic.
Kale is such an amazing veggie that I've already dedicated a blog to its amazing-ness (which you can check out here). Kale is really high in all the good stuff (like fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, and K) and low in all the bad stuff (no cholesterol or bad fats - it's a veggie, after all!). It boasts the antioxidants lutein, beta-carotene, and glucosinolates which support immunity, eye health, and prevention of some cancers!
Just like kale, broccoli has zero trouble meeting the definition of superfood - they are actually in the same family of veggies. Broccoli has a very high fiber-to-calorie ratio, with almost 6 grams of fiber for 30 calories of raw broccoli (that's about 1 cup, if you're wondering).
Broccoli also boasts a class of phytonutrients called glucosinolates, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer through mechanisms such as protecting cell DNA from damage and inactivating carcinogens.
Broccoli is like a superhero. Maybe that's my next Halloween costume...
Yet another cruciferous veggie (along with kale and broccoli), these delights contain similar nutritional qualities as the aforementioned greens. In addition to the phytonutrients, vitamin, and fiber they contain, Brussels sprouts are also a good source of calcium, folate, iron, and zinc.
If you're new to Brussels sprouts or have previously had an aversion to them, check out this great Brussels-sprouts-for-beginners post to find out why you might like them now when you haven't before!
Another cancer-fighting ingredient in this salad, cranberries are full of vitamin C and other antioxidants. They might help reduce the risk of pesky urinary tract infections by preventing bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, but research is somewhat mixed about this.
A word of caution, however, about the tart morsels - the sour flavor is often tamed by adding a substantial amount of sugar. Thus, this superfood should be enjoyed in moderation.
These are such a wonderful fall fruit! I had the pleasure of picking my own fresh pears from a neighbor's tree. I've been snacking on homemade pear sauce and pear butter for weeks now.
Pears are a unique fruit in that they are high in soluble fiber. In general, dietary fiber is divided into two categories: soluble and insoluble. The former has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels if eaten in high enough quantities. Most experts recommend to eat between 6-8 grams of soluble fiber per day; one large pear contains 3 grams of soluble fiber - almost half as much as you need in the whole day!
A fall alternative to nuts, pumpkin (or other types of squash seeds - I roasted my own butternut squash seeds for my salad) are an excellent source of fiber, with over five grams in one ounce. They also contain iron and are high in zinc, which helps boost immune function.
While you can certainly buy these from the store, I love salvaging the seeds from butternut squash that I use for other recipes and then roast the seeds myself. Yum.
It's not healthy, but it is delicious.
For a vegetarian option, leave this ingredient out.
So let's get on with it and make this amazing salad. Cut a piece of bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook until crispy in a medium skillet.
Meanwhile, prep 10 fresh Brussels sprouts by cutting off the end of the stem and removing any gross-looking outer layer. Cut these into quarters and add to the bacon. Saute until tender-crisp (can poke with a fork, but far from mushy) and lightly browned. Once cooked, remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.
Wash thoroughly a bunch of fresh kale - look for leaves that are smaller and tender, but not limp. Gently massage the leaves by rubbing them between your fingers to break down the fiber and make them more tender.
Remove the leaves from the woody stalk by holding the base of the stalk and stripping the leaves off by pinching the stalk with your opposite hand's thumb and forefinger and running it down the stalk like going down a fireman's pole. Massages and poles - who knew kale could be so risque?
Chop a head of broccoli in bite-sized florets, enough to make about one cup. Toss kale, broccoli, cooled Brussels sprouts (and bacon) together in a large bowl and add a fourth-cup each of roasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. Dice a pear and toss with lemon juice (to avoid browning), then add this to salad, as well.
Finally, mix together your dressing: three tablespoons canola oil, two tablespoons each of lemon juice and sugar (or sugar substitute), a tablespoon of minced onion, and a half-teaspoon each of dijon mustard and poppyseeds. I like to put the dressing in a mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake like crazy.
Pour the salad dressing over the salad immediately before serving and toss to coat leaves evenly.
Super Food Fall Salad
4 c. kale, massaged and torn into 1-inch pieces
1 c. broccoli florets, chopped
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. roasted pumpkin seeds
1 large pear, diced and tossed with lemon juice
10 fresh Brussels sprouts, quartered
1 slice bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. onion, minced
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
In a medium skillet, cook bacon through. When crispy, add quartered Brussels sprouts and saute 5-8 minutes, until tender-crisp. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.
Once Brussels sprouts are cooled, toss with remaining salad ingredients.
In a separate container, mix together all salad ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine immediately before serving.
Serves 4 - Serving Size: 2 cups - Nutrients per serving: 250 calories -- 15g total fat -- 2g saturated fat -- 3mg cholesterol -- 301mg sodium -- 29g total carbohydrates -- 6g sugar -- 18g fiber -- 6g protein