How to make healthy choices every day

Snappy Spring Salad

I thought that it was time I posted a recipe highlighting and celebrating the beautiful produce that is now in season. We’ve been enjoying plenty of asparagus and sugar snap green peas lately, so combining them in a fresh, vibrantly flavoured salad seems like the best idea.
Green peas and asparagus are nutritional powerhouses. Both vegetables contain very high amounts of folate (a.k.a. folic acid), a b-complex vitamin that supports cell production (especially in your skin! Yay!), allows nerves to function properly, and helps prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures. Both are also an excellent source of vitamin K, which has recently come into the spotlight for the role it plays in bone health since it is necessary for our bones to properly mineralize. In fact, there is good evidence to show that vitamin K can be helpful in both prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Talk about a bone-strengthening salad!

I came up with this salad as I was experimenting at work the other day, and it certainly worked. The dressing is so good I could drink it on it’s own, and I know that it would be a fantastic addition to just about any summer salad.
This recipe presents a great opportunity to use up leftover quinoa, but you could also use brown rice, pasta, or other grain if you have it. I like the texture contrast it adds against the crispy vegetables, and it will make the salad more of a meal – great for picnics!

Snappy Spring Salad

1 cup shelled sugar snap peas
1 bunch asparagus
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa for a change)
juice and zest of one lemon
half cup chopped mint
3 dates
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
Water to thin

1. To make the dressing, puree the mint, dates, and lemon juice and zest using a food processor or hand blender. Blend until uniform in texture. Thin it out by adding a tablespoon of oil at a time, and then thin with a little dribble of water until it is a consistency that you can drizzle.
2. When you go to cook the peas, the key is not boiling them into a mash! Fill a big bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring 5 cups of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the peas and boil for 20-40 seconds. You are trying to just take the bitterness away, and still leave them tender so that they pop in your mouth. Quickly drain and dunk the peas in the bowl of ice water.
3. To cook the asparagus, bring water to boil in shallow saucepan. Cook just until tender. Dunk the asparagus in ice water with the peas. Drain both.
4. Toast the pumpkin seeds by placing them in a dry frying pan over high heat. Toss until fragrant. Remove from heat.
5. Just before serving gently toss the peas, asparagus, cooked quinoa and pumpkin seeds with about half of the dressing and a couple pinches of salt. Taste and add more dressing if you like. Finish with a pinch or two of your favorite finishing salt.

To find the best produce, head to your local farmer’s market and meet the growers themselves. Asparagus and sugar snap green peas should be pretty easy to find right now since they are at their peak. Remember that eating locally not only supports local industry (very important right now!), but it is also healthier since the food has traveled less distance and lost less nutrients. So, go meet your local producer and make some salad! Snap to it!

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