I love this salad. I could have called it the Antioxidant Salad, the Hippie Salad, the Anti-Aging Salad, the Beautiful Salad or even the David Wolfe Salad. It’s the kind of salad that will leave you energized, your cells buzzing with happiness. This salad will help to make your skin glow and will look beautiful on any table you serve it on. But, more importantly, this salad delivers a mega dose of antioxidants. Read on for health benefits and the recipe.
Free Radical and the Antioxidants
Aside from being a potentially amazing name for a band, free radicals and antioxidants have a few things to teach us.
Free radicals are unstable molecules in the human body that have been triggered by cigarette smoke, environmental toxins, fried foods, burnt meat, radiation and even the body’s own metabolic processes. These molecules have one thing in common: an unpaired electron in their outermost shell. Free radical damage occurs when these unstable molecules start ripping through the body to find a mate for their unpaired electrons. This process causes tissue damage and can lead to disease. Antioxidants, however, help to stop this damage by donating an extra electron to the free radical. Problem pretty much solved.
It just so happens that every single ingredient in this salad provides antioxidant benefits. Once you have some of the pantry staples, this salad requires very little shopping and effort. So read up on the ingredients and eat up.
Here’s why the ingredients love you:
- Blueberries – are native to North America and are one of our local superfoods. Anthocyanins are the flavonoid phytonutrients that give blueberries their amazing dark purply hue, are mainly there to help the plant thrive throughout environmental assaults and UV damage. When we consume blueberries (or any dark fruit with anthocyanins, for that matter) we receive the antioxidant benefits. There is also new research suggesting that blueberries are also beneficial for cardiovascular health. They’re also low glycemic, meaning that they won’t spike your blood sugar. I am partial to wild blueberries and, during this time of year, tend to buy my weight in them and freeze what I don’t use (as blueberries’ compounds are not lost when frozen).
- Goji berries – ok, so they may not be native to North America, although I have learned that they can be grown here. I buy mine dried and use them regularly for their skin health benefits. Gojis are higher in beta carotene (a carotenoid phytonutrient) than carrots! They’re also more than two times higher in antioxidants than blueberries. Gojis also contain astaxanthin, a phytonutrient known for its natural sunscreen benefits; astaxanthin helps to prevent and repair sun damage. Gojis are also a source of vegetarian protein, containing around one gram of protein per tablespoon.
- Spinach – one of my fav leafy greens, spinach is super high in carotenoid phytonutrients beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These guys provide mega antioxidant benefits. Spinach is also high in antioxidant vitamins C and E, and is a good source of vegetarian protein, containing around one gram of protein per cup of uncooked spinach. Be sure to buy spinach organic.
- Sprouts – whatever sprouts you use, know that whenever you eat something sprouted, it has more protein, enzymes and B-vitamins when sprouted than when not. I like to use daikon radish sprouts, but feel free to use whatever you can find at your local health food store or farmers’ market.
- Cacao – it’s chocolate in its purest (and raw) form; cacao is the seed of a fruit of an indigenous American jungle tree. Cacao is said to offer the highest antioxidants in the world. One of note: phenylethylamine, known as the love chemical. It’s high in magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamin C and omega-6 fatty acids. I buy mine in nib and bean form from my local health food store (Essence of Life, if you’re wondering).
- Olive oil – the Mediterranean diet has been the most researched diet in the world, and, of course, features the delicious and versatile olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is high in oleic acid, which has been found to have cardioprotective and cancer preventative benefits, in addition to providing digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits. It also helps you absorb the carotenoids present in the gojis and spinach. Note: buy the best extra virgin olive oil that you can afford. I recommend first cold pressed olive oil. My favourite olive oil out there is Rallis, a raw and ice-pressed extra virgin olive oil. Maison D’orphee is another good brand.
- Sea salt – did you know that sea salt contains over 70 minerals that table salt just doesn’t. It’s salt as we were meant to eat! Look for the most natural sea salt possible. My favs: Himalayan or Celtic.
Anyhoo, enough about the ingredients, here’s the recipe:
Summer Superfood Salad
2 cups spinach, tightly packed
¼ cup wild blueberries
2 tbsp goji berries (soaked if you like them soft, I personally like them a little chewy)
1 tbsp cacao nibs
¼ cup sprouts of choice
2-3 tbsp drizzled extra virgin olive oil
sprinkle sea salt (to taste)
Divide all ingredients between two bowls. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt overtop. Serves two beautiful people.
Wishing you lots of antioxidant love. xo Andrea