Blueberry, Kale and Quinoa Salad

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Super Foods Galore in this salad.  Recently, I tried this salad combo out on some family and friends. My beautiful Sister-in-law, Danielle, particularly enjoyed it and stated “Wow, you’ve convinced me to love Kale. Will you share the recipe for the salad?” Well, I’m all about sharing. Food is for sharing and so should the recipes. Since that evening, most of the guests have asked for the recipe so I’ve decided to share it on my site as well. Thank you to my dinner guests from the other night for a natural addition to my site’s content. You’ve all inspired me a little more!

But first, a little bit about the great ingredients. I originally designed this recipe with healthy alternatives in mind. I was asked to speak to a group of women about making changes in our lives that can benefit us in many ways. I believe adding a couple of new ingredients at a time to our diets can be of great benefit. Small steps towards a healthy mind, body and Soul.

KALE – One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

BLUEBERRIES – Tiny little blue gems found in great abundance in Northern Ontario. Growing wild in so many places, these little wonders do indeed pack a potent punch. They rank the highest of any fruit for antioxidants (free-radical-fighting powerhouses), and one cup delivers 14% of the recommended daily dose of fiber and about 25% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

Blueberries are also low in calories; with less than 100 per cup. Their bluish, and very distinct hue is due to the high anthocyanin content, which gives certain fruits and veggies their deep blues and reds.

QUINOA(pronounced Keen-Wah) Naturally gluten free, Quinoa is an excellent source for protein, riboflavin, saponins (promote healing of skin injuries) and has roughly 172 calories per 1/4 cup of dry uncooked quinoa. The protein balance is similar to milk and as a complex carbohydrate has a low glycemic index (great for weight management).

MAPLE SYRUPYum, what more can I say. Maple syrup is my favourite sweetener, as it not only packs an amazing flavour punch but also has many health benefits. Maple syrup features over 54 antioxidants that can help delay or prevent diseases caused by free radicals, such as cancer or diabetes. In addition, maple syrup features high levels of zinc and manganese, keeping the heart healthy and boosting the immune system.

SUPER FOODS PACKING A HEALTHY PUNCH

Blueberry, Kale and Quinoa Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

A bright, crisp salad with the brilliant hue of summer blueberries.  Feel free to switch up the greens; both chard or romaine would work well instead of the kale. You can make this salad ahead (3 or 4 hours) with the vinaigrette added and it holds up very nicely. NO wilted lettuce here!

For the Salad:

1 cup (240 ml) waterWild Blueberries

1/2 cup (120 ml) raw quinoa, rinsed and drained

1/2 bunch kale (6-8 large leaves), stems removed

1 Tbsp (15 ml) avocado or olive oil, preferably organic

1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt

1 cup (240 ml) grape tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped red onion

3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh blueberries

1/4 cup pecans (whole or pieces)

sprinkling of hemp seeds, for garnish

For the Dressing:

3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh blueberries (substitute frozen if berries are not prime)

1/4 cup (60 ml) avocado or olive oil, preferably organic

juice of 1 lemon

zest of 1 lemon

1-2 tsp (1 ml) of maple syrup

1 large clove garlic, chopped

Make the salad: Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot; add the quinoa, cover, and lower heat to a simmer.  Cook for 18 minutes; check the quinoa to ensure that all the water has been absorbed.  If there is still water in the bottom of the pot, cover and simmer another 5 minutes; check again.  Keep checking and cooking until all the water is absorbed, then remove from heat and turn the quinoa into a large bowl to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, wash and dry the kale.  Chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl with the 1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil and salt.  “Massage” with your (clean) hands by kneading and squeezing the kale between your thumb and fingers until it becomes shiny, softer and a shade darker. This will allow the kale to be digested more easily.

Add the tomatoes, red onion and blueberries to the bowl and toss.

Make the dressing: combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy (I used a hand-held blender and it worked perfectly). Pour over the salad and toss to coat.  Add the cooled quinoa, pecans and toss again.  Sprinkle with hemp seeds just before serving.  Makes 4-6 generous servings.

Enjoy

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