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Okay so before I lose you on the word “salad”, let me say this is not your typical soggy and dressing-heavy salad. This dish starts with a healthy and nutritious base of spinach and really gets elevated with sweet flavors coming from fresh peaches and just enough savory flavor from chopped almonds and sprinkles of blue cheese (if you don’t like blue cheese, feta makes a great substitute). Not to mention, with all the colors from the ingredients, it looks beautiful, too!
This delicious summer salad does NOT sacrifice flavor at all and is good enough to be a meal on its own. If you’re trying to get more leafy greens and fruit in your diet, this is one to remember!
So, first, start out with a base of spinach. Choose whatever quantity you would like according to your desired serving size, keeping in mind that the spinach will comprise of about 2/3 the volume of the final salad! Wash and roughly chop.
Why spinach and not lettuce? It is a leafy green that is packed full of vitamins and nutrients, especially iron which can be hard to find in a vegetarian diet.
Next, add 2-3 medium fresh peaches. Chop them into small, roughly 1/2 pieces. If you don’t have peaches, blueberries, apples, and even dried dates have worked in the past. Once done, assemble these as well as the rest of the ingredients on top of the salad (this strategy along with tossing only at the very end helps keep all the smaller ingredients from settling at the bottom of the salad).
Dice half a red onion. Take the time to dice it very small as these onions will be served raw in the salad. With the balance of the rest of the ingredients and dressing, much of its harsh “bite” will be gone.
Chop a generous handful of almonds. I prefer to toast mine briefly in a pan with no oil and over medium heat to give it some extra crunch but it’s not absolutely necessary. The almonds, in addition to giving the salad some texture and nuttiness, add a punch of proteins, fiber and healthy fats to the mix.
Blue cheese or feta. Admittedly, cheese is not the healthiest ingredient. It can contain lots of sodium and unhealthy fats, especially when eaten in large quantities or in a processed form. However, this recipe respects the rule of moderation and uses it in a way where you get the most “bang for your buck” — albeit in terms of flavor.
Having a healthy diet does not necessarily mean never eating your favorite foods (especially when it’s a sublime award-winning local blue cheese) – rather it’s knowing how to enjoy it in a way that won’t have long-term negative effects on your health.
Make the dressing. You don’t need a heavy dressing like caesar or ranch to complete this recipe! Rather, you can whip up a quick one with some pantry items: 1 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a squirt of dijon mustard, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix with a fork and adjust the flavors as you would like, keeping in mind that you’d usually like to keep a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar!
When finished, assemble ingredients on top of the spinach, add the dressing, and toss before serving! Enjoy!