Superfood Salad

superfood salad

Healthy eating is very trendy.  You notice this especially when you shop locally at the farmer's market, on a Saturday, when everyone else in the world is there too (bad memories).  But mainly healthy eating has become essential, especially with the epidemic of obesity in America spreading like Ebola in a movie theater.

I recently had a salad with shredded Brussels sprouts and kale -- two pillars of the "superfood" community -- that was delicious AND nutritious and I thought it would really be a selfless act on my part to recreate it and share it with the world, especially since most of the salads people eat have the nutritional value of a bag of ice.

Here is my version of that salad -- using a vinaigrette that I put on everything -- that incorporates other superfoods to take the nutrition-factor -- and the trendiness-factor -- up a few notches.  There are all sorts of variations of the toppings so really you can throw in whatever superfoods you happen to have on hand.

Kale & Brussels Sprout Superfood Salad

1/4 cup olive oil (other healthy options: walnut oil, canola oil)
2 tbsp sherry vinegar (use white wine vinegar if you don't have sherry)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 shallot, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine

Head of kale, washed and spun dry, sliced into ribbons (i.e. chiffonade)
Bunch of Brussels sprouts, rinsed, cut in half and sliced into strips
Handful of grape tomatoes, washed and sliced in half
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (other options: pepitas, sunflower seeds, almonds)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (other options: dried cherries, pomegranate seeds)
4 oz (or 1/4 cup) blue cheese, crumbled (other options: feta, goat cheese)

Make the dressing first, so your flavors have a chance to blend together.  Chop your shallot and garlic.  In your receptacle of choice (I personally love an old school salad dressing shaker that I got with the purchase of some Good Seasons dressing mix), add the oil, vinegar, S&P, mustard, shallots and garlic.  [Note: Once you decide you like this dressing, I would recommend doubling the recipe so you don't have to keep making it over and over.]  Shake the hell out of the dressing to emulsify it, then pop in the fridge while you prepare the salad.

Once your veggies are washed and dried, you want to chop them up into a uniform size that is easy to eat.  Kale is pretty tough so getting it into a more manageable form is key.  I like to do a chiffonade - which basically means you layer a bunch of leaves in a stack, roll them together into a cigar-like shape, then slice the roll into thin strips from end to end. This will give you ribbons of the greens.

For the B sprouts, cut off the ends and lose any wilty or dirty outer leaves, cut in half the long way, then slice horizontally.  It will look almost like you shredded them but this way is much easier.  Because these are both pretty hearty greens, they will last longer than some of your wimpier lettuces.  Slice up a bunch extra and save for salads throughout the week and just dress what you need each time.

Now you're going to gather/chop your "toppings".  Chop your walnuts and blue cheese (unless of course you are using pre-chopped everything - which I don't necessarily recommend, but hey, do what's easiest for you); slice your tomatoes; measure out some cranberries.

When that's all done, start assembling your salad.  In a large salad bowl, portion out some greens and sprinkle with a little S&P (ION - the S&P sticks better and adds more flavor if you add to the greens BEFORE the dressing).  Then top with some of the dressing (make sure you shake it up again first); the amount will be up to you.  Toss with tongs (or your hands - clean hands, I should say).  Then top with the tomatoes, cranberries, walnuts and cheese.  VoilĂ !!  If you really want to be a superfood superstar, sprinkle some flax seed on top for bonus points.

[SERVINGS: I think this makes enough for four people and you should have extra kale and Brussels sprouts left over to make another salad or two another time.]

Here's the run down of what you're eating:

- Kale: tons of antioxidants, high in fiber, cancer fighting glucosinolates, calcium and vitamin K
- Brussels sprouts: high in fiber and glucosinolates and vitamins A, C and K
- Olive oil: healthy monounsaturated fats that can lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help prevent heart disease
- Tomatoes: loaded with the antioxidant lycopene, which also fights cancer and helps with heart health, vitamin C and beta-carotene
- Walnuts: a great source of Omega-3s, protein and healthy monounsaturated fats
- Dried cranberries: antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber
- Cheese: protein, calcium and vitamin B-12 (goat cheese is even better:  even more protein and calcium plus selenium - an antioxidant, vitamins A and B-6, potassium and niacin)
- Garlic: lots of benefits; contains vitamins C and B6, manganese and selenium, keeps our blood vessels clear from blockage and lowers blood pressure
- Shallots: same benefits as garlic, but also contain potassium and folic acid
- Flax seed: contains Omega-3s, lignans and fiber and helps prevent heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes

Boom! You are one healthy so-and-so!  For a wealth of info about what makes foods super, visit the World's Healthiest Foods site here.