This recipe for Autumn Salad is a great addition to many types of meals such as special dinners or can accompany a bowl of soup or sandwich at lunch time. You can also make a main dish out of it by adding protein such as chicken or turkey breast. Vegans can simply add chopped tofu for a healthy meal. Vegetarians who consume dairy products may find that crumbled blue cheese adds a special touch to their salad. The Autumn Salad would also be a very flavorful and seasonal side dish at your Thanksgiving meal. I decided to pair the salad with my Autumn Menu of Sweet and Sour Pork Chops, Mashed Sweet Potatoes Minnesota Style and Fall Fruit Fiesta. The recipe for the pork loin chops appeared in my blog on 11-11-14 and the sweet potatoes in my blog on 11-12-14. The recipe for Fall Fruit Fiesta will appear in my upcoming blog on 11-15-14. November is National Diabetes Month and Friday. November 14 is World Diabetes Day. The autumn salad can be adjusted into a carbohydrate controlled meal plan for diabetes. In fact, the entire Awesome Autumn Menu is very carbohydrate controlled and diabetes diet friendly as long as you adjust each recipe accordingly into your physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian prescribed meal plan. If you have diabetes and decide to prepare the entire Awesome Autumn Menu and serve for your meal, the entire meal counts as 4 1/2 carbohydrate choices if you use the portion size listed on each of the recipes. If you have further questions concerning adjustment into your meal plan, please contact your physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian for further information and medical advice concerning this. This blog is not intended to provide medical advice but rather to help you enjoy nutritious food in moderation.
- 4 cups raw spinach
- 6 TB dried cranberries
- 2 cups chopped and seeded apples
- 6 TB chopped avocado
- 6 TBchopped walnuts
- ⅓ cup each water, apple cider or red wine vinegar
- 3 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1 TB sugar or 2 packets Stevia sugar substitute
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- 1 TB Italian Seasoning
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp Thyme
- Place 6 salad bowls or plates on your preparation area. The salad will be layered on the salad plates or bowls. Divide the spinach among the 6 salad plate or bowls. Place spinach on the plates. Next add 1 TB of the chopped avocados on top of the spinach. Add the next layer of chopped apples to the plates. Sprinkle 1 TB of dried cranberries on each salad. Top the salad with 1 TB of chopped walnuts per salad.
- Place ingredients for salad dressing in a jar. Add the lid to the jar and shake the jar until well until all the ingredients are well blended. Add 2 Tb of salad dressing to each salad.
- If desired you may add all of the salad dressing ingredients in a salad bowl and toss the salad. Add dressing and toss the salad again until well combined.
The salad is not only delicious but contains many “super foods” that pack a big nutritional punch! I will discuss three of the ingredients of the salad in this blog, spinach, cranberries and walnuts.
Bright, vibrant spinach leaves are very eye appealing and an excellent source of antioxidants which fight off the ” bad guy” free radicals. Antioxidants protect your body from the damaging effects of oxidation. Oxidation is a natural process that occurs in nature. As oxygen interacts with the cells of any type, an apple slice or the cells lining an internal organ such as your lungs, oxidation occurs. The apple slice becomes brown in color when exposed to oxygen.When these free radicals begin to attack your body, they can eventually injure the cells, damaging the DNA, which creates the sequence for diseases such as cancer to occur. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants.
Spinach is also a good source of fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, potassium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. When purchasing spinach, choose deep green leaves and stems with no sign of yellowing. The leaves should appear fresh and tender and not be wilted or bruised. Do not wash spinach before storing in your refrigerator since exposure to water encourages spoilage. Place the spinach in a covered glass or plastic container or plastic storage bag. It will keep fresh for about 5 days. Check the expiration date on your spinach when you purchase it in the grocery store and purchase the freshest spinach possible.
I grew spinach in my garden last summer and I picked it almost daily until spinach season was over. It was one of the first vegetables that I harvested out of my garden.
Long before the colonists arrived in America, the American Indians were using cranberries. The Native Americans were using cranberries not only for a food, but also as a dye as well as for medicinal purposes. It was often used as a poultice to heal wounds. I remember learning that the Indians introduced cranberries to the pilgrims in elementary school. The pilgrims served cranberries among other foods at their first Thanksgiving meal.
Cranberries are a good source of Vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. Cranberries were taken along as a staple on sea voyages for sailors to consume to help prevent scurvy. We have probably all heard that cranberry juice and cranberries can help prevent bladder infections. Cranberries contain proanthocyandins, also called tannins which prevent bacteria, including the E coli bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract. Cranberries also contain the flavonoid Quercetin which has anti-inflammatory properties. Cranberries are also rich in pectin. This is the reason why they quickly cook up into a sauce. Cranberries are also very low in calories and carbohydrate content in their natural state. My salad recipe contains dried cranberries which are a good source of fiber and nutrition. Dried cranberries are much higher in calorie and carbohydrate content than fresh cranberries so don’t eat them by the handful if you are trying to limit your calorie and carbohydrate intake. Dried cranberries can be added in small amounts to fruit and vegetable salads and are good in snack mix, cookie, quick bread and muffin recipes. My recipe above just calls for 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries per salad to keep the calorie and carbohydrate content of the salad lower.
Last but not least, walnuts are an excellent source of fiber, copper, manganese, biotin, Vitamin E, antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are very heart healthy and can help prevent incidence of heart attacks and blood clots. Recent studies indicate that walnuts may also provide a number of neuro protective compounds which can enhance cognitive and motor function in aging persons. They are also thought to increase reasoning abilities in young adults. Walnuts are a source of heart healthy fat and due to their high fat content, the calorie content is higher per serving. Again, if you are trying to control your calorie intake, don’t eat several handfuls each day. If you are watching your weight, limit walnuts to a two tablespoon serving. Walnuts make a great addition to snack mixes, salads, banana and other quick breads, cookies and muffins.