Strawberry, Cacao Nib, and Goat Cheese Salad

Last week I promised you some delicious recipes to support you in your quest to not be so weird about food.  Today, I deliver!

Some seasonal shit right here

Today’s salad is brought to you by two veggies that farms in the Northeast of the US are overflowing with right now. STRAWBERRY AND SPINACH SEASONS GREETINGS TO YOU!

Eating food in season is a loving, benefit-laden gift to yourself and also the whole damn world.  Here are some of the reasons why:

  • It’s good for your taste buds, because fruits and veggies in season are fresher and infinitely more delicious.  You deserve to eat like a queen.  Please don’t settle for the pitiful excuse for a tomato that shows up all mealy and gross in the winter.
  • It’s good for your wallet.  When veggies are in season, there’s an abundance of them around, which means they cost less!  When veggies are not in season, you pay $6 for a bunch of flaccid basil to go with your pathetic pink tomato.
  • It’s good for your whole body because seasonal produce is much more nutrient dense – fruits and vegetables lose antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals when they are picked before they’re ripe and need to travel halfway around the world to get to you.
  • It’s good for the Earth. It takes a whole lot of energy and pollutants to get out-of-season foods to their destinations.  Something tells me that we’d all think that eating blueberries from China in February was not worth it if Mother Earth ceases to exist because we have treated her so poorly.

Basically, eating seasonally is one of those awesome tricks that doesn’t reek of deprivation but does magic behind-the-scenes work on your body so you crave less junk and your organs work better and VOILA your healthy body just happens rather than you having to chase it down like a rabid dog.  Aren’t healthy decisions SO much easier to make when they’re about adding stuff rather than eliminating it?

(SIDE NOTE: Dear bloggy friends, I know that sometimes when I am learning about something new that has to do with what I eat, I suddenly feel like an ignorant dope because I am being told that I am sending my body straight to hell when all I was trying to do was eat a damn snack.  That is so not the intention behind me telling you this stuff!  I view all of this information as something to move toward in the way that feels right to you, if it feels right to you.  Not something to feel bad about, EVER.  I love you! xoxo, Marla)

Food sweet spots:  Chocolate and Overachieving Salads

Today’s recipe hits some major craving sweet spots.  First of all, cacao nibs!  What could be better than cute little pieces (nibs! what an adorable word!) of nutty crunch that satisfy your chocolate cravings without all the bullshit?  Cacao, especially in its un-sugared and un-dairied form, has so many health benefits.  I could write a whole post on that with all that I am learning through my work at Gnosis Chocolate.  For now, though, I will just tell you my favorite fun choco-fact.  Cacao is full of magnesium, which is fabulous for heart health, which is how we got started on giving chocolates as a symbol of love!

Also, what is better than a non-boring salad in the summer?  You know how women’s magazines always have those blurbs about how ordering a salad is not always the best choice, then they show you a picture of a salad from some chain restaurant that is actually 4,000 calories, then they tell you “DON’T BE SCARED, LADIES! Just avoid salads that have bacon or cheese or anything fun in them, AND get fat free dressing on the side and dip your fork in it and spear your lettuce with it delicately!”?

I feel like they are so missing the point!  There is a happy salad land that exists between iceberg and bean sprouts with vinegar and ranch-soaked salads topped with lucky-charms-encrusted fried chicken, or whatever the hell they serve at TGI Friday’s.  Today’s salad lives in that land.

And what could possibly feel more decadent than strawberries and chocolate together?  People love that shit.

Strawberry, Cacao Nib, and Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:

Salad
4 cups-ish of baby spinach
2-3 oz. goat cheese
2-3 T. cacao nibs
1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced

Reduction
1 cup balsamic vinegar
a touch of honey
salt and pepper to taste

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Instructions:

  • Heat a pan on high and add balsamic vinegar.
  • Whisk the vinegar frequently as it heats to keep it from burning.
  • Add a bit of honey to taste – but be advised that the reduction will sweeten quite a bit on its own.
  • Continue cooking and whisking until the vinegar has reduced by half or become syrupy (about ten minutes).
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Fill a bowl with spinach, strawberries, goat cheese, and cacao nibs.
  • Drizzle with balsamic reduction to taste and toss well before serving.

Notes:

All of the amounts are just estimates here – adjust them depending upon your salad preferences for the day.  If balsamic reduction is a bit too tart for you or you’re pressed for time, plain old balsamic vinegar and olive oil would work great too.

21 Responses to Strawberry, Cacao Nib, and Goat Cheese Salad
  1. Native People
    May 6, 2013 | 7:38 am

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  2. [...] Ginger Garlic Bok Choy with Cashews Today’s bok choy recipe is a crunchy/salty/spicy/nutrient-dense delight.  Before we get into that, though, let’s finish up last week’s discussion on the glory of seasonal eating. [...]

  3. Dominee
    June 19, 2012 | 11:34 am

    That looks beautiful and yummy!

    And “flaccid basil” made me giggle a lot. Basil was not what I was thinking of, hahaha.

    • Marla
      June 19, 2012 | 8:41 pm

      Thanks, honey! Hahahaha… I totally picture the basil patting each other on the back and saying, “Don’t worry, man. It happens to all of us sometimes.”

  4. Belinda
    June 19, 2012 | 9:19 am

    that looks totally amazing! I can’t wait to try it, thanks for that! xxx

    • Marla
      June 19, 2012 | 9:49 am

      You are so welcome! Hope you love it!

  5. Jo Macdonald
    June 19, 2012 | 5:50 am

    Oh my goodness I think you just created heaven on a plate Marla! Please come to my house for dinner….you don’t mind cooking right ;)

    • Marla
      June 19, 2012 | 9:49 am

      I’ll be there in 6-8 hours, love!!!! :)

  6. tokyotutti
    June 18, 2012 | 9:51 pm

    you just blew my mind (again)
    evidently i was so out of it i spelling my email address wrong the first time

    • Marla
      June 18, 2012 | 10:18 pm

      HAHAHAHA. You will love this! Please don’t be afraid of the balsamic reduction – it is super duper easy. xoxo

  7. tokyotutti
    June 18, 2012 | 9:49 pm

    you just blew my mind

  8. Great post! I love the seasonal inclusion here. It’s so important to honor our bodies and land this way, since we’re both connected anyway. And you’re right, salads have turned into some sort of no man’s land abomination in restaurants, glad to see you restore them to their rightful fresh place in the food pyramid!

    • Marla
      June 18, 2012 | 6:29 pm

      Thanks so much, Shelley! I love making salads that aren’t a snoozefest – not as some weird symbol of my virtue but because these greens serve such an important function (especially in spring!)! Hugs hugs hugs

  9. Arwen
    June 18, 2012 | 11:54 am

    Mmmm, had to Pin this so I could find it again. Definitely going to try this.

    • Marla
      June 18, 2012 | 6:27 pm

      Honored to be pinned by you! Please let me know what you think!

  10. Gin
    June 18, 2012 | 10:13 am

    Oh, yummmmm! Thank you!

    • Marla
      June 18, 2012 | 6:26 pm

      Thank YOU, Gin! Enjoy!

  11. Lisa Frideborg Lloyd
    June 18, 2012 | 9:26 am

    ohhhh… gonna have to try this. bet my bf will love it too! :) thank you, lovely Marla! :D

    • Marla
      June 18, 2012 | 6:25 pm

      YAY hope you both love it, Lisa! Thank you! xoxo

  12. Elinor
    June 18, 2012 | 5:19 am

    OM NOM NOM!

    Your new role has benefits for all of us :-)

    Elinor xx

    • Marla
      June 18, 2012 | 6:24 pm

      Thanks, sweetheart! <3

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HEY YOU!
I'm Marla Hamilton, and this is my blog. I write it because I want to make it very easy for you to feel healthy and great about yourself.Read more about me here.
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