Hi All! I’m coming at you with a quick post for day 3 in my 5 day salad series. Last week, I posted about how our diets can cause inflammation and that prompted me to create this series of salads featuring anti-inflammatory ingredients. I hope you’re learning something about the power of fruits and veggies. Read about that here. Also, check out the recipes from day 1 (flank steak salad) and day 2 (apple cranberry pork salad).
I must say, since I planned out my entire week of lunches, it’s been nice not having to think about what’s for lunch. Maybe I should plan lunches more often 😉
Here is today’s bowl of garden goodies.
The base is baby spinach with grilled chicken, sliced strawberries, feta cheese and walnuts. The dressing is a basic balsamic and oil dressing. I use a 1 part balsamic vinegar to 2 parts olive oil with a teaspoon of sugar, and a squirt of lemon juice. It makes slightly more than enough for the salad. Careful not to add too much as a little goes a long way with vinaigrette dressings.
This salad tastes fresh with the sweetness of the berries matched with the sharpness of the feta cheese and the crunch of the walnuts, which by the way are a good source of essential omega 3 fatty acids.
Now, what nutritional benefits are in this bowl? Aside from a whopping 25 grams of protein from the chicken and over 100% of your Vitamin C from the strawberries, there’s actually a synergistic benefit going on here.
Synergistic? Nice word, huh? Synergistic is just a fancy name to say two things working together to enhance something. Which ingredients are working together? It’s the spinach and strawberries!
Let’s talk about spinach. I have about 2 1/2 cups of spinach in this bowl which contains about 14% of my daily amount of iron. This essential mineral is responsible for carrying oxygen molecules in your red blood cells and comes in two forms. If the iron is from an animal source, it’s heme iron. If the source is a plant, then the iron is non-heme iron. This is important because heme iron is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron.
However, when you consume non-heme iron with a source of Vitamin C, the iron becomes more easily absorbed. Enter the strawberries. With over 100% of your daily Vitamin C, the non-heme iron trapped in the spinach is converted by Vitamin C to the easily absorbed heme iron form. Pretty neat, huh 🙂
Think about other plant based foods that are high in iron. Dark leafy greens, like spinach, chard, kale as well as beans are good sources of iron. This is a key nutrient that if you’re deficient, you become tired, listless, dizzy and basically non-functional. Extreme deficiency is rare yet even slightly deficient can make a difference in your day to day energy levels. Be sure to include a good source of iron everyday. But if you’re relying on plants for your iron, what should you eat it with?
Morale of the story, pair your iron containing foods with a vitamin C source. When in doubt, grab a glass of orange juice!