by Katherine Matutes, Ph.D.
Finally! It feels like spring is really heading our way.
When I see the crocuses peek their heads out of the ground, I feel those first stirrings to clean out the house, which always includes cleaning out the pantry, fridge and (especially) the recipe box.
As the cravings for heartier, heavier meals subside, my whole family looks to the produce aisles to see what’s “new."
You should be on the lookout for these upcoming first, fresh produce harbingers of spring: asparagus, avocados, peas, strawberries and spinach.
With these ingredients, enjoy the following heart healthy salad:
1 bunch spinach, thoroughly washed
1 bunch lightly steamed asparagus chopped into 1 inch pieces
¾ cup steamed fresh peas, cooled (or ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed)
1 avocado, diced
1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced
1 pint blue berries, washed
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned (blood oranges would be really nice)
½ cup shelled pistachios
For your dressing:
½ cup olive oil or avocado oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Scant ¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp mustard
2 tbsp honey
Dash salt and pepper
Mix all salad ingredient together and top with avocado. Whisk together dressing ingredients and drizzle over salad, top with nuts if desired and serve immediately.
What makes this salad so great? It's ingredients.
Asparagus posseses a unique combination of nutrients including: saponins, asparanin A, sarsasapogenin, protodioscin, and diosgenin. These compounds work synergistically to reduce inflammation which is widely known to exacerbate or even promote heart disease.
Avocados are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, which is essential for optimal health and enhances the absorption of other fat soluble nutrients.
Peas are another great source of heart healthy plant nutrients. They are actually a legume and contrary to popular belief fairly low in carbohydrates.
Strawberries provide an outstanding variety of plant nutrients, including the widely known vitamin C, but they are also high in anthocyanins and resveratrol, which is commonly found in red wine.
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which are both powerful antioxidants that support heart health.
You can pick up these salad ingredients and many more healthy options when the JCC Famers Market begins this June.
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