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Sweet and salty: in my opinion, it’s the perfect combination.

As most of my friends know, I’m a big chocoholic ( Have you tried my favourite vegan chocolate avocado recipe!? Check it out here: https://avocadoearthnutrition.com/2014/07/09/cocoa-crazy/). Anything from chocolate covered strawberries to ultra-rich chocolate cake to chocolate covered crickets, I’ll devour anything and everything, as long as there’s cocoa involved ( but don’t worry, I practice what I preach; I eat chocolate in moderation, of course!).

Despite my serious sweet-tooth, I admit that I do also fancy a good salty snack at times.

So for this week’s featured recipe, I decided to combine the best of both worlds and created an earthy, sweet, and salty salad. With just the right amount of ripe fruit to balance out the salty flavours of blue-cheese and pistachios, this salad is loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats, and unique bioactives to get you feeling holiday-healthy in preparation for your indulgence in the next few weeks.

Check out the recipe and health benefits below!



Sweet and Salty Arugula Salad with Blue-Cheese

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Ingredients:

1.5 cups arugula, washed

10 – 15 grams Danish blue-cheese

Sliced mango, ripe

15 grams Pistachios, hulled and roasted

1 teaspoon Chia seeds

1 tbsp MCT or Olive oil

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

Drizzle of balsamic reduction

Pomegranate, Broccoli spouts to top

Pairs well with: Konzelmann Estate Winery’s Barrel Aged Shiraz

This off-dry red has notes of pepper and spice, and is sure to tickle your fancy! Well-balanced tannins and notes of black-fruit allow it to pair nicely with the arugula blue-cheese salad.



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Wash and arrange bed of arugula. Crumble Danish blue-cheese, top with pistachios, Chia seeds, pomegranate, and broccoli sprouts. Slice mango and arrange. Dress with balsamic vinegar and MCT oil (or Olive oil, if preferred). Enjoy!



 

Health check: Why choose these ingredients?

 

The winter months often call for hearty, home-cooked meals and gathering with family. During these get-togethers, however, our usual healthy habits are often put on the back-burner, and we tend to forget that a second helping of veggies would be a better choice than reaching for another plate of pie.

So what’s this salad got to do with a second helping of veggies, pie, or the holidays?

First-off, it’s a great alternative to those fat-laden dips that often accompany ready-bought veggies. Serving a salad as an appetizer is an excellent way to sneak in some more greens during the holidays – your guests will be impressed with the beautiful arrangement of the salad, and your body will thank you for a nutrient-dense choice. Rich in folate, vitamin C, and calcium, leafy greens ( such as arugula ) keep your immune system happy and healthy, and are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties as well (1, 2, 3).

Rad Research: Through the consumption of cruciferous vegetables, which includes arugula, a randomized control trial demonstrated a significant decrease  in serum IL-6 ( a marker of inflammation) in subjects consuming the supplemented green vegetables. Though these findings are promising, it is pertinent to note the small sample size, insufficient power, as well as certain external factors (3).

Remember how I mentioned pie earlier on?

As we pie-lovers all know, one slice of scrumptious, delicious, drool-worthy pie is loaded with a little too much sugar (but hey, why else would it taste so good?!). Though a salad may never fully live up to the glory that is a slice of pie, the sweet flavours of pomegranate can help satisfy your sugar-cravings. Pomegranate seeds can also aid you in reaching your daily fibre goals, and are high in antioxidants, reducing free radicals in your body.

Finally, a functional-food favourite, the chia seed, is sprinkled on top to add omega-3s. Chia seeds are a great source of alpha-linoelic acid, which is believed to assist in maintaining cardiac and hepatic health (4). They also have a satiating effect, and thereby can help curb your appetite at dinner.  No need for your stretchy pants here, this salad will keep your appetite in check, and tastes just as good as it will make you feel!

Dig in!



References:

(1) Tilg, H. (2015). Cruciferous vegetables: prototypic anti-inflammatory food components. Clinical Phytoscience, 1(1), 1-6.

(2) All about dark leafy greens. (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2015, from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Cooking/Food-Preparation/All-about-dark-leafy-greens.aspx

(3) Navarro, S. L., Schwarz, Y., Song, X., Wang, C. Y., Chen, C., Trudo, S. P., … & Lampe, J. W. (2014). Cruciferous vegetables have variable effects on biomarkers of systemic inflammation in a randomized controlled trial in healthy young adults. The Journal of nutrition, 144(11), 1850-1857.

(4) Nieman, D. C., Gillitt, N., Jin, F., Henson, D. A., Kennerly, K., Shanely, R. A., … & Schwartz, S. (2012). Chia seed supplementation and disease risk factors in overweight women: a metabolomics investigation. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(7), 700-708.

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