One of my favorite things about spring is the many delicious foods it brings. Don’t get wrong I love my fall fruits and veg (apples, pumpkins, root veg, etc.) but there is something so refreshing about spring produce!! Probably has a lot to do with where I live. Maybe if I lived in a warmer climate I wouldn’t get so excited seasonal foods or about the seasons changing but there is something magical in the air when the snow has melted, days get warmer, a smell of the BBQs in the breeze at dinner time and seeing the kids out playing with neighbors they haven’t seen much of over the winter months. It makes the winters not seem so bad.
I am a big fan of a big salad bowl lunch or dinner. It’s pretty much what I have throughout the spring and summer months. I don’t really have a favorite or even one that I do on a regular basis. I am always changing it up based on what I have on hand or what I am craving. I find my cravings (or what my body needs) changes depending on the season, how much sleep I’ve had and often how I am feeling. In the colder months I find fully salads harder to do even though it might be what one fitness or health guru says it is what we should be eating. Can’t tell you how many times I have prepared myself a healthy raw salad full of superfoods and good stuff but in January living in the Northeast I don’t always feel great after eating this kind of raw meal. For me raw produce can be very tough for me digestively when its freezing out. Now eating this way works for many people, my husband included, he can eat a salad pretty much any time of year. I associate this with our different body types or doshas if you follow Ayurveda principles. So in winter months I try to limit my raw foods including fruit (which kills me because I LOVE fruit!) and instead do more macro or Buddha bowls which I like to think of as sautéed salads. My cooked bowls have a lot of the same things I throw in my salads: beans, tempeh, avocado, seeds, seaweed, roasted root veggies or a little quinoa but tend to have a heavier dressing (avocado or nut based). I love these bowls but by spring I am ready for a big crunchy chopped salad and something with lots of colors!! I love to add in radishes, shredded cabbage, peppers, jicama and all of the awesome spring treasures we find at the farmer’s market. This alone is another key reason spring is one of my favorite seasons: the awesome farmer’s markets open again! Yah!! Am I a food nerd or what!
Our dinners tend to be both simple and easy to put together but ever changing depending on what we have in the fridge. I apply the same habits I do in winter, prepping a bunch of my toppings on Sunday night, then switching up my salad creations every night or in my work brown bag lunch. Now where I am less creative is in the naming department, I leave that to my creative director husband or my imaginative mini-mes, the twins. Most often I run out of ideas and the girls just call my dinners “rainbow plates. It’s always comical listening to them rattle off all the colors we have on our plates and letting me know if I am missing any colors. For me its pure delight when I see them run back to the kitchen to add another colorful item to their plate or give me suggestions for next time.
Today’s rainbow salad creation, I got creative and came up with a name “collard greens slaw”. I often forget about collard greens but they are a nice alternative to kale, swiss chard or spinach, they are rich in vitamin C (antioxidant), soluble fiber and vitamin K (anti-inflammation). Like other greens collards are great to add to a soup, stew, smoothie or salad. Today I made collards the greens star of my slaw, adding in some shredded purple cabbage and carrots to give it a little extra crunch. I love purple cabbage (or red cabbage), not only because it is a veggie vitamin and antioxidant powerhouse but because it is so eye pleasing to see its deep purple color in my salad. Its deep pigmentation results from a rich supply of anthocyanins (also found in blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, eggplant peel, black rice), a flavonoid phytochemical which can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, muscular degeneration, and other diseases.
Though I love my purple brassica family member, I need watch how much I consume and how I prepare it. My IBS doesn’t let me eat a whole bowl of cabbage (raw or cooked) without feeling it afterwards, so I tend to eat cabbage as a side, mix it in with other vegetables or grains or lightly sauté it in some coconut oil. I also love fermented cabbage (aka sauerkraut) which has a host full of nutritional benefits but I’ll save this for another post. According to Ayurvedic medicine, cabbage is a cooling vegetable best consumed in warmer months, by those with a kapha or pitta constitution and cooked for vata types (that’s me!). I have also read that our bodies absorb the antioxidants from cabbage more easily when it’s cooked but it will lose some of its valuable minerals and vitamins in doing so. Either way you are getting a lot of awesome nutrients. I have made this salad using both raw and cooked cabbage, both fantastic but you could do either or a combination of both raw and cooked. I’ll leave that for you to decide but give it go and leave comments below to let me know how you prefer this slaw.
Collard Greens Slaw
Yield: About 4 servings.
1 bunch collards, de-stemmed & thinly sliced
2-3 cups purple cabbage, shredded or finely grated
2 carrots, grated
1 red pepper, deseeded & diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp liquid sweetener (honey or maple syrup)
2 tsp ginger, minced (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
1 tsp garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to season
Optional topping : A handful pomegranate seeds, raisins or dried cherries and a good sprinkling of hemp seeds.
- Toss together the prepared collard, cabbage, carrots and pepper in large salad bowl. If using cooked cabbage, first sauté this vegetable in a tablespoon of coconut oil in a hot frying/sauté pan over medium heat with a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place salad in the fridge for 1-2 hours allowing the greens to soften and wilt a little. Toss a few times while in the fridge (if you remember).
- Before serving, do a final toss and top with an optional scoop of pomegranate seeds, raisins or dried cherries and hemp seeds.