It's the perfect time of year to start increasing your raw food intake. The weather is getting warmer which means our bodies look for more cooling foods such as fresh salads. Lucky for us, our farmers markets are starting up again which means local, seasonal and often organic fruits and veggies to choose from. Why would you want to eat more raw foods? Well, it's because raw food is so nutrient dense (nothing has been destroyed by heat or through the cooking process). It's enzyme rich (all bodily functions require enzymatic action so it's necessary to eat LIVE foods) and it's a great source of fibre.
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Salads are one of the best and easiest ways (aside from smoothies) to increase your daily veggie intake. I hear all too often that salads are boooring. Guess what? You'll get out of a salad what you put into it. What I mean by that is if you prepare a boring salad of iceberg lettuce with celery, cucumber and carrot then you'll have a boring salad to eat. And I don't blame you for not wanting to eat that! It's not exciting whatsoever.
BUT if you prepare a gorgeous salad bowl with mixed greens such as kale, romaine, spinach or dandelions with a variety of fresh, seasonal produce such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, radish, fresh sprouts, black olives, raw nuts and seeds and a hearty protein such as edamame, quinoa or hemp seeds with a delicious homemade vinaigrette then you'll have a beautiful, mouth-watering salad made with nothing but love! Why wouldn't you want to eat that? See where I'm going with this?
Spend some time infusing your salads with a little creativity and a lot of love and all of a sudden your perspective changes.
I made this salad the other night for dinner and it was nothing short of amazing. Give it a try and let me know what you think of it!
Quinoa & Kale Salad With Sweet Potatoes
3 cups kale (ideally organic)
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 sweet potato, diced & roasted
2/3 cucumber, cut into 1/2 moons
1/2 red, orange or yellow pepper, diced
a handful of red onion, very thinly sliced
1 small carrot, ribboned with a veggie peeler
3 tbsp almond slices
1/2 avocado, diced
sea salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 425F. Toss diced sweet potato with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and pepper and on a parchment lined baking sheet roast for about 20-25 minutes or until tender and golden brown.
Next, you will want to massage your kale. Wait! What? Yes, you heard me correctly, I want you to massage your kale. After you have washed and dried your kale place it in a bowl with the tiniest bit of olive oil, lemon and sea salt. Using your hands massage your kale for about 5 minutes. Why this helps your kale? Kale can be tough and bitter. When using it in lighter more delicate recipes such as a salad you will notice that massaging your kale helps tremendously. It will work to soften the cell walls making the kale much more palatable (sweeter even), easier to digest and silky smooth in texture so you don't feel like a bunny rabbit munching on leaves. Now that your kale has been massaged set it aside in a large salad bowl.
Cook your quinoa. Add 1 cup of dried quinoa to 1.5 cups of filtered water in a small pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed. Set aside and allow it to cool.
Add frozen edamame to a small pot of boiling water. Boil for 3-4 minutes then strain and set aside.
While your sweet potato roasts in the oven, make your dressing (see below).
Combine the massaged kale and remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl. When your quinoa and edamame has cooled & your sweet potatoes are done you can add them to the salad bowl as well.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon freshly squeezed
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp mustard
pinch of the following dried spices: basil, thyme, dill, oregano and garlic powder with sea salt and pepper
Combine all of the above ingredients in a small mason jar and shake vigorously. Any leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
I served this salad up for dinner with a piece of breaded wild fish but you could easily eat this on its own or make it as a side dish to your dinner entrée.
I love the colours, textures and protein sources in this salad but what excites me most is how good it tastes!