Holiday Dishes: Spinach/Pomegranate/Fennel Salad

NOTE: My archives have several holiday salads from previous postings.  However, I did make a spinach/pomegranate salad for Thanksgiving, so I am posting that today and may post some from my archives after I return from California. It is similar to one I did in 2009, but good enough to reprise with variations.

This recipe (and others to come) feature leafy greens, with red and white accents, to reflect the green of pine trees, the red of the holly berries , and the white of snow. Coincidentally, these are also Christmas colors (while Hanukkah focuses on blue and white), but not sure which came first, the colors influencing the holidays, or the holidays influencing the color scheme.

Since pomegranate seeds (arils) are featured, here is some nutritional info from
www. healthline.com  and written by  Joe Leech, MS on August 18, 2016.

Pomegranates have an impressive nutrient profile: One cup of arils (174 grams) contains:

  • Fiber: 7 grams.
  • Protein: 3 grams.
  • Vitamin C: 30% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin K: 36% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 16% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 12% of the RDA.

The pomegranate arils (seeds) are also very sweet, with one cup containing 24 grams of sugar, and 144 calories. However, where pomegranates really shine is in their content of powerful plant compounds, some of which have potent medicinal properties. At the end of the day, pomegranates are among the healthiest foods on the planet.

BOTTOM LINE: The pomegranate is a fruit that contains hundreds of edible seeds called arils. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and bioactive plant compounds, but they also contain some sugar. (My salad calls for 1/2-1 cup and serves 4 people, so if each person eats 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds, that = 6 grams of natural sugar… and also fiber.)

There are two unique substances in pomegranates that are responsible for most of their health benefits. Punicalagins, extremely powerful antioxidants found in the juice and peel of a pomegranate.

Pomegranate has impressive anti-inflammatory effects. Chronic inflammation is among the leading drivers of many killer diseases. This includes heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even obesity. Pomegranate has potent anti-inflammatory properties, which are largely mediated by the antioxidant properties of the punicalagins.Laboratory studies have shown that pomegranate extract can slow down cancer cell reproduction, and even induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells (8, 9).

Holiday Salad

Utensils: Strainer or salad spinner, bowl, cutting board and knife
Prep. Time: 10 minutes (if pomegranate seeds already removed from fruit)
Cooking Time: None!
Categories: Vegan (V), Gluten Free (GF), No Sugar Added (NSA)

Note: The amounts are only suggestions. Use more or less of what you like and feel free to make substitutions. The feta is an optional variation, which would then make the salad vegetarian, but not vegan.

Ingredients

3-4 cups organic greens, washed and dried (I used baby spinach and red tipped Romaine)
1/2 cup (org.) washed and sliced fennel bulb (Feel free to substitute sliced red onion or leek as alternatives to fennel bulb.)
1/2-1 cup pomegranate seeds, called arils
1/4-1/2 cup pecan pieces*
salt & pepper to taste
2-3 Tbl. Olive oil and juice of one small lemon juice (or your favorite dressing)

Directions

Place the washed greens, sliced fennel, pomegranate seeds, and pecan pieces in a bowl.
Add salt & pepper, if you wish. Toss with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon right before serving, tossing to coat all the leaves with the dressing. Serve immediately.

* I roasted the pecan pieces and tossed them with Coconut Aminos or soy sauce for added flavor (optional). Nuts are also a nutrtional powerhouse.

Variation: If cheese is on your diet, feel free to sprinkle on some fresh feta, crumbled.

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