Spinach Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

We made this at the November kids’ healthy snack class, and I have to say I was a little nervous about whether the kids would turn their noses up at spinach, but it was a surprising hit!  The sweet, crunchy apples and tart, chewy cranberries brighten up crisp spinach in a way that makes this salad a fun and tasty treat! Spinach is also one of my VERY favorite energy-boosting foods and a superfood I highly recommend in my Best-Selling Book, “Eat to Beat Stress.” 

I adapted this dressing recipe from a little grocery store/checkstand cookbook I had bought years ago.  The original recipe called for frozen cranberry juice concentrate, which is extremely hard to find without corn syrup of any kind, so I switched to 100% cranberry juice.  I love to serve this salad with Thanksgiving dinner, and one of my favorite ways to use leftover turkey is to dice some up and toss it into this salad the next day for a quick, healthy lunch!

Cranberry Vinaigrette
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. 100% cranberry juice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 c. dried cranberries

Directions
Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk or stir until thoroughly combined.

For individual servings:
Place 1-2 c. fresh baby spinach leaves on a plate.  Top with half a diced apple (we like Fuji or Gala – crisp and juicy!), 2 tbsp. pecan halves, and 1-2 tbsp dressing drizzled over the top.

OR
For a group:
In a large bowl, combine 6-8 c. fresh spinach leaves, 3 diced apples, 1/3 c. pecan halves, and 3-4 tbsp. dressing.  Toss to lightly coat salad w/ dressing (add more dressing as desired).

Variations
Substitute diced pear for the apples.

Add protein: Diced chicken breast, hard-boiled egg, left-over roast turkey, or ham would all be great on this salad and make it more of a meal than a side or snack.

Add cheese: Crumbled feta or blue cheese also compliment this salad nicely. As a side note, I’d make sure your kids are OK with that before you put it all over their salad – a lot of kids get really turned off by ‘stinky cheese’!
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