This salad is my go to dinner in college. It is quick, healthy, and delicious and it helps use up some of my required meals at school. Every week I stock up on saurkraut, avocados, and lemons. Then every night I take my metal lunch box container and pick up whatever looks good at the salad bar. Usually it is a mix of spring salad greens, spinach, and a romaine lettuce mix. I also get whatever vegetables look good. This time it was broccoli and cucumbers.
I love using this lunch bots container to get take out from the cafeteria. It allows me to get things like the ingredients for this delicious salad without creating the waste of a big plastic to go container. And it works out to be the perfect amount and occasionally I save the spinach to put in green smoothies.
Leafy greens should be an essential part of our diets, they are high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium.
I came across this article on why you should eat more leafy greens and it talked about some somewhat recent research done that showed that genes of immune system cells found in the lining of our gut possibly respond to the proteins in leafy greens. Basically our guts our lined with innate lymphoid cells or ILCs, which help us maintain a healthy gut. These immune system cells do a lot, they are essential for maintaining the delicate balance between tolerance, immunity and inflammation, they produce a hormone called interleukin-22 (IL-22), which can protect the body from invading bacteria, and they help to maintain a ‘healthy’ environment in the intestine by promoting good bacteria and healing small wounds and abrasions that are common in the tissues of the gut.
The researchers at Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research discovered the gene T-bet, which is essential for generating a newly discovered subset of ILCs which keep bad bacteria from entering our bodies through out digestive system. So by now maybe your thinking, ugh boring, why are we talking about immunology and how does this relate to leafy greens, but hold on, because this is where it gets cool. So they also discovered that proteins that are found in green leafy vegetables are known to interact with a cell surface receptor that switches on T-bet, and might play a role in producing these critical immune cells. So not only are leafy greens full of vitamins, but they also help to strengthen our immune systems.
Green Goodness Salad
- 2-3 cups of leafy greens (salad mixes, lettuce, kale, spinach, baby chard….)
- chopped veggies (broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini noodles, sprouts, celery…)
- 1/4 cup raw saurkraut
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 avocado*
Start with by placing the chopped leafy greens in a big bowl and then add in the avocado. I like to dice the avocado while it is still in the skin and then scoop it out and mass it into the greens. Top with the juice of the lemon and add all of your toppings on. It is that simple and really good!
*If you don’t have a ripe avocado you could also substitute it for cooked chickpeas that have been mashed. It isn’t as tasty, but a great option when I don’t have good avocados.