Holidays this year are much more intimate and I hear many clients saying they feel heavy not only with the mental stress of a pandemic but also the physical weight of too much time in the kitchen eating. I find this salad fills festive desires while being satisfying and light. Oh yeah, and it packs a punch of nutrition...
Pomegranates are so pretty and scream "holiday" to me. They are loaded with antioxidants (including polyphenols) and vitamins including A, C and E as well as folic acid. Pomegranates have also been credited with reducing hypertension, lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol, improving skin, and even fighting cancer.
Pistachios are one of my favorite nuts. Another great source of antioxidants, they are an excellent source of vitamin B6 and potassium, and also one of the best plant sources of melatonin, beneficial for restoring a healthy sleep cycle. Not only that, just 1/2 ounce (about 25 nuts) contains about 3 grams of plant-based protein. They are appreciated for specific amino acids, including lutein, which is believed to be beneficial for eye health. They also contain a decent amount of fiber and have been shown in studies to improve gut bacteria. All this and they are so pretty and tasty too!
Butternut Squash is a beautifully rich orange-flesh squash with a long shelf life (comes in handy during a pandemic). It's loaded with immune-boosting beta-carotene, vitamin C, magnesium, and has even more potassium than the beloved banana. Also high in fiber and healthy carbohydrate, I love the sweet caramelized flavor it provides when roasted.
Oh, and then, there is the kale... :)
"Make it easier" prep tips:
- Batch cook the squash and use any leftovers for your healthy bowls during the week.
- To remove the seeds of a pomegranate, simply wash, cut in half, hold inside facing down into a deep bowl and smack with the back of a heavy spoon. Once they stop coming out, start pulling apart the membranes to remove the rest of the seeds.
- Buy pre-shelled pistachios.
- To strip the leaves off the kales stems, simply hole the stem with the leaves facing down and use the other hand to slide down the stem and pull of the leave in one singular motion. It's really that easy!
Holiday Kale Salad
Serves 6-8 as a side
2 TB avocado oil
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 TB flax oil (or sub with more olive oil)
3 TB aged balsamic vinegar
2 tsp shallot, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TB Herbs de Provence (or sub with dried thyme, sage, rosemary combo)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large bunch curly kale, leaves stripped off stems, roughly chopped
2 cups butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes (about 1 small squash)*
1 cup pomegranate seeds (about ½ large pomegranate)*
½ cup shelled pistachios (also nice with lightly toasted sliced almonds)
*can prep ahead (see note below)
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (preferably unbleached). In a large bowl, toss the squash cubes with 2 TB avocado oil until coated. Add Herbs de Provence (or alternative spices) and toss again. Spread cubes on the baking sheets and make sure there is plenty of room in between pieces. When oven is warm, place in oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, until golden on edges and soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
2) While squash is roasting, make the dressing. In a small bowl or a glass jar (with a lid) whisk 3 TB olive oil, 2 TB flax oil, 3 TB vinegar, 2 tsp minced shallot, 1 tsp Dijon mustard in a bowl or put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously.
3) To remove the pomegranate seeds from the fruit, simply cut in half, hold face down into a large bowl (can use your salad bowl if it’s deep enough). Slap the back of the pomegranate with a heavy wooden spoon and allow the seeds to fall into the bowl. Tear apart membranes to release more seeds.
4) Heat a small frying pan and add the almonds. Toast while tossing occasionally and allow to turn golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
5) Strip the kale leaves from the stems, wash, dry and tear into bite-size pieces. In a large salad bowl, sprinkle salt & pepper onto leaves and with clean hands, massage the leaves until the fiber starts to break down and they become softer.
6) Add squash, almonds, and pomegranate seeds and toss lightly. Shake dressing again and pour over salad. Toss well and serve. You may want to reserve some of the squash, almonds and seeds to top the salad for a beautiful effect.
Time management tip: the squash, the pomegranate seeds, and the toasted almonds can all be prepped ahead of time.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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