Sunday, June 14, 2015

Spinach, Cherries and Smoked Almond Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette + Dole Get Up and Grow Tour

There is nothing better than a fresh, flavorful and nutrition packed salad on a warm almost summer day.  I take that back, this fresh and flavorful salad can actually be enjoyed year round. Just use dried cherries instead of fresh if out of season. Oh and add a bit of crunch on top of the salad, now you have hit salad nirvana.  This nirvana is achieved when you have the freshest of ingredients on hand in your kitchen.

I have the distinct privilege of being one of eleven food bloggers around the country to be bestowed the honor of being an official ambassador for Dole Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for 2015.  Dole had provided me compensation for my time. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.

I am proud to announce the Dole has executed a terrific campaign for 2015 called – “Get Up and Grow”.  The folks at Dole have a mission to help everyone become a happier and healthier YOU.  With any goal, when you write it down and tell other people, you are more likely to achieve that goal.  Dole has provided a pledge that you can find here and you can participate in their rewards program and even wine a trip to the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. Click here for official rules.

Dole is touring 45 Cities in the United States and Canada to demonstrate that a plant based diet can be easy, fun and quite attractive.  Click here to see when they are coming to a city near you.  Knowing the folks at Dole, each of the stops along the tour will be packed with great recipes, tasty treats, fun and tips for a healthier lifestyle.  With each of us making New Years resolutions, this is a way to kick start mid year if you fell off the wagon.  If you have been great all year, they will provide new ideas, recipes and tips to enhance what you are already doing.

So how well do you know your fruits and vegetables?  These fun facts are courtesy of the Dole Nutrition Institute and Jenn LaVerdera, MS, RD, nutrition and health communications Manager for the Dole Food Company:
  • Bananas top the charts worldwide.  The iconic yellow fruit is not only North America’s most popular produce, it is also one of the most-purchased single items in the supermarket – not only in the U.S. and Canada but around the world
  • Strong to the finish … Cuz I eats me spinach!  Spinach may be one of the healthiest foods on earth, supporting six body systems: heart, eyes, brain, skin, bones and immunity. Popeye’s favorite food may even help maintain mental sharpness and reduce risk of certain cancers, according to preliminary research.
  • Eat greens to feed your brain! Folate-packed foods like asparagus and salad greens has been linked to lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia in women.
  • Celery can fight breast cancer?  Not only is celery a dieter’s dream at 15 calories per serving – the stalky vegetable contains apigenin, a compound that may prove an ally in the crusade against breast cancer. Scientists from the University of Missouri demonstrated that apigenin delayed onset of tumors by 38%.  
  • Strawberries promote heart health. In a study from the University of Toronto, patients at risk for heart disease saw a 13% drop in bad LDL cholesterol after adding three cups of strawberries to their diets. Strawberries also support brain function and are high in vitamin C, fiber and manganese – all for only 45 calories each!
  • Grapefruit, a (not-so-hidden) weight-loss secret.  The old “grapefruit diet” has finally been proven by science. Researchers at the Scripps Clinic found that people who ate half a grapefruit with every meal for 12 weeks lost an average of 3.6 pounds, while those who drank grapefruit juice three times a day lose 3.3 pounds. Many subjects lost more than 10 pounds in the study!

Spinach, Cherries and Smoked Almond Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

  • 1 (6oz) Bag Dole Baby Spinach
  • ½ Cup Cherries, pitted and cut in half
  • 2/3 Cup Smoked Almonds
  • ½ Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese

Empty the bag of spinach into a large bowl and drizzle the desired amount of vinaigrette over the spinach and toss.  Adorn the top with the cut cherries, almonds and blue cheese.  Serve immediately and enjoy.
Honey Lime Vinaigrette
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Add all of the ingredients to a mason jar and shake well.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Smoked Almonds
  • 2/3 Cup Almonds
  • 2 teaspoon Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hickory Smoked Salt

In a medium pan, add the butter and melt over medium heat then add the sugar and stir until combined.  Add the almonds and coat well.  Next add the hickory smoked salt and stir.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat until they become sticky.  Remove from the heat and pour onto a plate to cool.  Break apart if needed.

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