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Yum Friday Recipe: Citrus Spinach Pecan Salad

27 Jan

I think I must have been close to scurvy this morning.  I had such a craving for citrus that I made this salad for breakfast.  Salad for breakfast?  Why not? 

Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she planned the citrus season for winter.  It comes at just the right time for us humans.  Besides giving us the health benefits of vitamin C right when we need it most, the sweet juicy tang of citrus fruit refreshes and says, “spring is coming.”  This salad sings freshness, just what we need for the doldrums of winter.

The stars of this food show are the oranges and pink grapefruit.  We round out the recipe with chopped spinach, pecans, and red onions.  Drizzled over top is a citrus/sweet dressing made from red ruby grapefruit juice.  It’s a great salad for the opening act of any meal–brunch, lunch, or dinner–and breakfast for the adventurous.

Citrus fruit is high in Vitamin C.  The body does not make it, so it is imperative that you eat foods with vitamin C in them.  While you may know vitamin C helps prevent colds and flu, it is also great and necessary for skin health.  Collagen production gets a big boost from ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  Collagen is needed for all skin types because it helps to strengthen and firm skin as well as repair it.  Dry, mature, oily, acne, wrinkled, sunburned skin all need vitamin C.  Skin wounds from surgery, cuts, etc. need it to help heal.

Dr. Andrew Weil even suggests asking your doctor for a vitamin C drip while having surgery to aid surgical wound healing.  That is how important vitamin C is to your skin.  I notice my skin becoming drier and duller if I don’t have vitamin C for just a few days.  Vitamin C is also high in antioxidants.  Antioxidants slow the damage caused by free radicals.  Free radicals are believed to be present in the cause of many diseases.  For the skin, free radicals damage collagen and cause skin dryness.  So, the moral of this story is get some vitamin C into you daily.  That reminds me: The body doesn’t store vitamin C, so it needs to be continuously replenished.

Spinach and the pecans in the salad provide another essential nutrient.  BTW, essential nutrients are those nutrients that the body does not make, and so we have to get them from food sources.  Spinach and pecans have omega 3.  Omega 3 acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body, which helps the skin.  Omega 3 is also important for brain development and function.  Spinach is also high in skin loving vitamin K.  Both spinach and pecans have other nutrients and phytonutrients that are important to the skin.  Onions  have several nutrients, especially flavonoids.  Flavonoids boost vitamin C, are ani-inflammatory, fight free radicals, and protect cell structure.  So, onions are nothing to cry about…..

Yum Recipe – Citrus Spinach Pecan Salad  – serves 2
2 navel oranges
1 ruby red grapefruit
½ cup chopped spinach
 1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 Tablespoon chopped red onion
fresh ground pepper

Ruby Grapefruit Dressing Ingredients
Juice from ½ red ruby grapefruit (about 1/3 cup) – remove any large seeds
1 ½ Tablespoon sunflower oil (or other light vegetable oil)
2 teaspoons agave or honey
pinch salt

Salad Dressing Directions
Make the dressing first.  In a blender or a bowl if using an immersion blender, add all the ingredients for the dressing.  Blend until thoroughly emulsified (1 – 3 minutes, depending on speed of blender).  The dressing will have a peach color to it.  Set aside.

Salad Preparation
Peel oranges and grapefruit, making sure to cut close enough to the fruit to remove the white part of the skin.  Section the fruit.  To section the fruit: cut sections away from the membrane on either side.  Using a knife, slice down the inside of the membrane on each side and using the knife lift the section away.  The other way to do this is to slice down the inside of one side of the membrane; bring the knife under the section and up along the other membrane side (the section is removed in one movement).

As you remove the fruit sections, place them in a colander over a bowl.  Once you are ready to prepare and serve the salad, put all the ingredients in a bowl.  Toss.  Drizzle the salad with the Ruby Grapefruit Dressing.  Grind fresh pepper on the salad after serving.  It’s also nice to plate the salad individually then add the dressing and fresh ground pepper.

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