When it comes to food, nothing says “summer” to me like berries (OK, and ice cream … and tomatoes and basil). I love berries so much that when I developed a temporary allergy to them at 2-years-old, I convinced my unknowing grandmother that the only thing I was willing to eat was a bowl full of strawberries (luckily we were already at the hospital, as my mom was in labor with my younger sister!). I love berries so much that each week of summer, I stockpile more berries than I can possibly eat, and continue freezing them until my shelves are overflowing, because they “won’t be as good in a few weeks.”
Luckily for me, one my favorite foods is also one of the healthiest. Berries (of all kinds!) are jam packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals (which can reduce inflammation, improve your immune system, keep your skin, hair, joints, and eyes healthy, and help prevent chronic disease), water (to hydrate you and keep you full) and fiber (which I covered in my first post on whole grains). They’re low-calorie, sweet, and delicious … what more could you ask for?
One way I’ve been loving berries lately is on salads. They add a burst of unexpected sweetness to any run-of-the-mill salad, and make it refreshing, summery, and satisfying. So, for Foodie Friday, I want to share three fruit-filled salads that I’ve made recently, along with the next three that are on top of my list. Enjoy!
Three Fruit-Filled Salads I’ve Enjoyed Recently…
- Strawberry, Fennel, and Quinoa Salad (adapted from this recipe): I piled a base of spinach with 1/4 bulb of shaved raw fennel, 1/2 cup of sliced cucumber, 1/2 a serving of cooked quinoa, 5 stalks of lightly steamed asparagus, and 5 sliced strawberries. I tossed it all together and drizzled it with a balsamic reduction (well, I didn’t quite reduce it enough, but it would have been a reduction!). Toss some cucumbers and strawberries in your water glass for an extra hint of refreshing flavor!
- Arugula, Cherry, and Goat Cheese Salad (adapted from this recipe): I simply tossed a container of spinach and arugula mix, 16 pitted and quartered cherries, 12 chopped almonds, and 2 ounces of crumbled goat cheese together in a large bowl. I drizzled with 4 tablespoons of prepared light balsamic vinaigrette, and it made about 4 servings. (Yes, I do know that cherries aren’t actually berries, but they have a lot of similar nutritional properties … so just go with me here!)
- Luann’s Kale Salad (slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats’ recipe): This delicious blend of kale, red onion, apples, and berries is to-die-for, even if you don’t regularly like kale. I made a few small adaptations to the original recipe, and they worked perfectly: I used 9 chopped cashews in place of peanuts, I used dried cherries and dried cranberries, and reduced to 1/4 cup (combined), I added about 1/2 cup of fresh chopped raspberries (this was key!), and I made the dressing out of 2t olive oil, 1.5T red wine vinegar, 0.5t sugar, and a few shakes of pepper.
Three Fruit-Filled Salads I Want to Try Next…
- Summer Spinach, Avocado, Mandarin, and Pomegranate Salad: from the blog of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, where I studied to become a Certified Health Coach. (source, courtesy of Kris Carr)
- Triple-Berry Summer Salad: another one from Iowa Girl Eats (she’s amazing!). This combination of spinach, berries, basil, almonds, avocado, and goat cheese is basically every single one of my favorite foods all rolled into one bowl. MUST. TRY. THIS! (source)
- Salad with Berries, Grilled Lemon Chicken, Feta, and Homemade Poppyseed Dressing: from a new-to-me blog – this looks incredible! Mayonnaise is one of the very few foods that I absolutely despise, so I’ll have to find a substitute for this dressing, but I think the addition of a grilled lemon chicken breast would be delicious! (source)
So tell me in the comments … do you like berries? Which ones are your favorites? Which salad looks best to you?