Thursday, April 16, 2009

Strawberry Walnut Salad with Homemade Dressing

Salad. Simple right? Well, what if making homemade salad dressings that were good for you and fresh became simple as well. It isn't as hard as you think. And, the strawberries are not quite ripe in Michigan yet, but to cheat and have this salad with California strawberries is worth it. Walnuts, which are high in Omega-3's are a quality nut that will give you the right amount of protein and fat.

Fat is good for you. You don't hear that often, huh. Well, our brains are made up of 80% fat and our body needs healthy fats to think clearly and break down the bad fats stored in our cells. Grapeseed oil is high is polyunsaturated fats so it helps reduce bad cholesterol(LDL) and build the good cholesterol(HDL). Healthy oils have many health benefits and if you are using them in dressings over your greens you will be getting the full potential of the benefits. So don't feel bad to douse your salad in this dressing, it will give you a healthy dose of healthy fats. So, yes, avoid trans-fats and hydrogenated oils, but don't avoid healthy fats all together. You body will start craving the essential fatty acids and you will find yourself carving unhealthy fats like fried foods and donuts. So don't fear the dreaded word FAT and find that there is health in the rich essential fatty acid oils. Balance is key.

The Fresh Ingredients:

8 oz. Mixed lettuce greens with arugula, spinach, heirloom, or whatever greens you fancy best

6oz - 8oz of sliced organic strawberries (local if possible)

1/2 cup of walnut or pecan pieces

Homemade Dressing:

1 cup grapeseed oil, walnut oil, or olive oil
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/3 cup of sucanat
1 ts. of mustard powder
1 ts. of garlic powder
1 TB of minced onion
1 TB. of poppy seeds
sea salt and cracked pepper

Put all the ingredients in a blender or magic-bullet-type of blender. Blend for 30 seconds to really whip it up. Then transfer to a salad dressing container. If you are going to save for long term use, I suggest using a glass jar or container so that it stays away from plastic residue. If you let sit before serving, the flavors will really come out. If I am making a salad for a party or a big bunch of people I like to pour on the dressing into my big salad bowl and toss it up and all over. If I am making a single salad or for just me and my husband, then I will pour the dressing on individually so that I can conserve the dressing and not use up a whole bowl of lettuce or spinach.

This dressing is a family favorite that I have revised to not used refined sugars or "not-so-good" oils to make it flavorful and healthy for that perfect spring and summer salad. I experiment with different kinds of greens and nuts. My mom's favorite is cashews and apples with a shredded organic Swiss cheese if you eat dairy. My favorite always includes a berry as well... strawberries are my favorite. Goat cheese crumbles may be a good addition to your creation as well. Pecans taste best with the strawberries, but walnuts are good too. Be creative with what is in season or you have in the kitchen. And let me know what you try out. The dressing is universal though. It is my absolute favorite dressing and makes eating fresh greens an extra treat. Don't be afraid to try and make your own salad dressing, this is my favorite dressing, so here you have it.

Enjoy friends and have a healthy happy day!

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