Strength-giving salads have been the mainstay of my evening meals for many years; they delight me. Recently I taught a class on how to maintain robust bodies by building wholesome salads. This next series spells pleasure in hearty recipes for glorious greens and more. Here I begin with the basic steps for creating these leafy dishes.
A variety of vibrant greens are good for the body. Spinach is high in iron, but too much of this raw vegetable is not wise. So balance raw and cooked spinach. A little vitamin C (tomatoes, citrus, pineapple, etc.) helps the absorption of the iron.
Beef or chicken can be added. These meats are high in iron and protein. Good quality eggs, beans, tuna, and cheese are also excellent protein sources.
Dried fruit (dates, cranberries, apricots, figs, raisins…organic is best) add a beautiful contrast of sweetness. Avocados are dynamite!
Choose an assortment of fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, radishes, bell peppers, etc. It’s important to use organic peppers, as this vegetable really absorb pesticides. Organic carrots are really inexpensive.
Roasted agave nuts (see recipe below) and homemade croutons (see recipe below) add texture and protein. Note: organic bread is a good protein source.
Nourishing homemade dressings save lots of money and explode with good flavor. (Recipes to follow in upcoming posts.)
Roasted Agave Nuts Yields: 1 lb. Total prep time: 50 min/ active prep time: 10 min/ baking time: 40 min.
- Buy 1 lb of an assortment of whole raw pecans, almonds, walnuts, and cashews in the bulk food section. (Cashew pieces work well and are cheaper.) I like to weigh out ¼ lb packages of each at the store.
- Preheat oven to 265 degrees.
- In a large bowl, pour 1/4 cup Organic Raw Blue Agave Sweetener. (Available at a good price at Trader Joe’s.) Blend in 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste) and 2 tsp cinnamon.
- Add 1 lb of mixed raw nuts. Stir well, until all the nuts are coated.
- Cover an 11 ½ x 17 ½ cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Spray parchment really well with spray oil (Pam Coconut Spray Oil is best.) This is essential, or nuts stick to the paper.
- Spread nuts evenly on oiled parchment. Bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Sprinkle generously with salt WHILE HOT. (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)
- Nuts must be hot for salt to stick. IF you forget to salt while hot, place them in hot oven again, until they are reheated. Then salt and cool. Break apart and store in sealed container at room temperature. Keeps well.
Homemade Croutons Yields: 1/2 gallon-size storage bag. Total prep time: about 1 1/4 hr/ active prep time: 15 min/ baking time: about 1 hr. Note: dry bread out, for 8 hr ahead of time, on a cookie sheet.
- May use gluten-free, homemade bread, Dave’s Killer Bread, or Franz organic Great Seed. (I grind my own organic wheat berries for my bread, however, croutons from store-bought bread aren’t as hard as that made from my homemade bread. I prefer Franz organic bread, which makes an excellent crouton high in nutrients and protein.)
- Make sure bread is stale. May partially dry by leaving it exposed to the air for up to 8 hours. You may store bread in a sealed plastic bag after drying, if you are not ready to bake immediately. Don’t get bread super stale, or the butter won’t distribute evenly. Expose slices for about 8 hours in the humid Northwest; adjust time for a drier climate. Bread should be somewhat dried out, firm to the touch, but not hard.
- Preheat oven to 265 degrees.
- Cut bread in cubes. Use 1/2 of 1 lb loaf of bread for one large cookie sheet.
- Melt 6 ounces of butter in a large frying pan.
- Add 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste. Stir in 1 tsp salt (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is best). Mix seasoning well into melted butter.
- Add bread cubes. Stir thoroughly, until bread is fairly evenly coated.
- Place bread cubes on an 11 ½ x 17 ½ inch cookie sheet, distributing evenly so heat can reach all.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Check for dryness; if not crunchy, bake for 15 more minutes. Repeat this last step until croutons are completely dried.
- Cool and store at room temperature in a sealed gallon-size storage bag. They keep indefinitely.