Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cucumber Raspberry Spinach Salad (smoothie?)

This one is for a friend who is in the midst of 8 weeks of serious dietary restriction, trying her best to sort out some digestive issues and identify possible allergens.  I've never seen such a crazy list of foods to cut out, have a look:

lettuce, tomatoes, red/orange/yellow bell peppers, (green's okay?  that's crazy) all onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, anything corn related, bananas, apples (what?) strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, watermelon, cherries, coconut, cranberries, limes, lemons, gluten, yeast, pepper, garlic, basil, (seriously?) oregano, mint, cayenne, paprika, vinegar, mustard, dill... the list actually does go on.

Add to this her personal restrictions of hating most vegetables, ("No broccoli, not gonna happen") and my personal restrictions of hating animal cruelty and environmentally unsound farming practices (sorry meat and dairy industry, we're not gonna be friends) and the list of allowable foods has gotten, well, a little short.

Still!  We will not be daunted.  I love a challenge.  I also respect and encourage what she's doing. Changing food habits is often scary, even temporarily, but the health benefits can truly astound, and definitely beat the crap out of anything the pharmacy will try to trow down your gullet.

This is a light, fresh, summer salad, easy to prepare in about five minutes, and if you get tired of chewing, you can just throw it all in the blender for sweet, green smoothie.

To make this a little more substantial, garnish with toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds or raw cashews, and serve over a pile of wild rice or quinoa.  As we talked about in a previous post, combining spinach with citrus boosts the body's ability to absorb the iron of the spinach, so this is a great way to help ensure that you're getting enough iron.  Remember - iron deficiency, not protein deficiency (which is now unheard of except for in places of serious food scarcity), is the most common nutritional deficiency  in the US.  It's not something that I spend time worrying about, but I do make sure to consciously incorporate iron rich foods into my diet.

But enough blathering!  Here's the goods:


1 medium cucumber - peeled
2 tangerines - peeled
1/2 cup fresh raspberries 
1 - 3 tsp Agave
2 big handfuls of fresh, baby spinach
pinch of salt
Optional additions (see headnotes)

  • In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 of the peeled cucumber, one tangerine,  half of the raspberries, a pinch of salt, and the agave nectar until smooth.
  • Arrange the spinach and remaining ingredients in a bowl, toss with the pureed dressing and enjoy!   Serves 1 to 2.

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