SUMMER IS HERE! Well, at least this gorgeous weather makes it feel that way. Can I get a amen?!
Summer is all about fresh, light, and simple foods. During the warmer months, I crave more raw foods, especially greens. I always try to pack a lot of dark leafy greens into my daily diet by way of smoothies, juices, and/or raw or cooked greens...and for good reason. I love greens, and so should you! :) Here's why. Leafy greens are chalk full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. They are rich in fiber, an important nutrient for weight loss and maintenance because it keeps you feeling full longer and helps control hunger. Fiber can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and aids in blood sugar control by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates into your blood stream after meals. Leafy greens also contain a lot of water, which helps you stay hydrated and contributes to beautiful skin and hair!
Some leafy greens, especially collards and kale, are rich in calcium. Aside from keeping your bones and teeth strong, calcium also contributes to muscle function and blood pressure management. Leafy greens are an excellent source of folate, which may help reduce your risk of memory loss and cardiovascular disease. All leafy greens contain another important nutrient, potassium, which further protects against osteoporosis and helps mange blood pressure levels. Leafy greens that contain beta-carotene, such as collard greens, spinach, and Swiss chard, contribute to the growth and repair of the body's tissues (very important). Beta-carotene may also help protect your skin against damage from the sun. Have I convinced you yet?! Yes? Good.
The salad I am sharing with you today is made up of spinach, diced cherry tomato, diced yellow pepper, garbanzo beans, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds), then topped with a deliciously creamy dressing bursting with flavor. By the way, since we were just taking about greens, I should mention that spinach is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! It is loaded with vitamin C, beta carotein, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which helps maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. The iron and B vitamins in spinach also help maintain a healthy circulatory system.
This salad is made up of things I always have on hand at home: vegetables, beans, and seeds. Anytime I make a salad, especially if I have it as my main entree, I always make sure to include a protein source and a healthy fat. In this salad's case, we get protein from the garbanzo beans and pepitas, and heathly fats from the avocado, olive oil, and pepitas.
The show stopper of this salad though, is the dressing. O.m.g....THE DRESSING. I may or may not have eaten some it with a spoon. Oops.
Fresh Summer Salad
- fresh baby spinach
- cherry tomatoes, diced
- yellow pepper, diced
- garbanzo beans (I used salt-free canned beans, rinsed)
- pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- cucumber, diced (optional)
Toss ingredents together in a large bowl. I did not include exact measurements...feel free to go crazy with these tasty ingredients!
Creamy Avocado Basil Salad Dressing
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves (I used about 6 large leaves)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 ripe avocado
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice + 1/4 tsp zest
- 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Adjust ingredients to taste (you may want/need more avocado or olive oil).
Now...go embrace this warm weather, do your body good, and eat some leafy greens :) Easy as that!