I don't know about you, but I am totally guilty of eating and serving the same fruits and vegetables over and over (and over, and over, and over...), and just calling it good. We eat a whole lot of carrots and apples around here!
In order to maintain proper health though, and to obtain the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that we need, our bodies need a much larger variety of (and many more) raw vegetables than we currently eat. In fact, it is one of the most important things you can do for your health. I do a good job of keeping out the bad stuff in our family (i.e. sugar and processed foods), but not as good of a job at making sure we're getting all the variety of good stuff that we need...so that is my goal for this year.
One of the ways that I'm going to do that is by incorporating this daily detox salad into our diets. The vegetables in it will change depending on the season, but the key to promoting health will be lots of variety of raw vegetables, AND, just as important is the dressing that goes on top!
The dressing is so important for a couple of reasons...
First: Many of the vitamins and micronutrients in fruits and vegetables are fat-soluble, meaning that they cannot be absorbed without the presence of soluble fat! That's because the nutrients dissolve in fat, so without it, they have a difficult time making it past the stomach, into the small intestine, and into the blood where they can offer the greatest benefits. So when you're munching on that carrot stick all by itself, or pouring some sort of fat-free dressing all over your salad because you thought it was healthy (it's NOT!), your body can only absorb a fraction of the nutrients it would absorb if you ate them with fat. Without adequate fat in the diet, you're literally starved of nutrients. I will say this until I'm blue in the face, EAT LOTS OF HEALTHY FAT!! Food fat absolutely does not equal body fat.
Second: Each of the ingredients in the dressing plays such an important role in our overall health.
- Coconut Oil - The medium chain acids in coconut oil improve metabolic function and improve the body's ability to burn fat. The lauric acid helps to reduce levels of bad cholesterol and blood pressure. It provides several key antioxidants, which can help reduce free radicals and ward off disease.
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar - It's high in acetic acid, which can kill bacteria and pathogens. It lowers blood sugar, aids digestion, improves insulin sensitivity, and helps to detoxify the body.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - It contains a compound called oleocanthal, which reduces inflammation (and therefore, reduces the risk of cancer). It lowers bad cholesterol levels and encourages good cholesterol. It is a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin E, reducing free radicals, and it has been shown to reduce the risk of strokes.
- Balsamic Vinegar - I love it for the flavor, but it also contains antioxidants which fight free radicals and protect against disease.
- Turmeric - Don't skimp on the turmeric in your dressing! It's one of the most powerful promoters of health that there is (and is a major cancer fighter!). The more I learn about it, the more committed I am to making sure we eat plenty of it. Thanks to a high concentration of the plant enzyme curcumin, it offers a wealth of anti-aging antioxidants, natural disinfectant properties, and more than two dozen powerful anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Black Pepper - Black pepper and turmeric work together synergistically. Adding black pepper to turmeric enhances the bioavailability of the circumin by 1000x, due to a property in black pepper called piperline.
- Sea Salt - Helps to alkalize the body, regulate water content throughout your body, provide electrolyte balance, balance blood sugars, build immunity, and more.
- Raw Honey - Raw honey is another antioxidant powerhouse, helping to block free radicals that cause disease. It's a natural energy source, boosts the immune system, and contains bee pollen which is known to fight infections (and can also provide natural allergy relief if local raw honey is used).
Daily Detox Salad
For the salad, you will simply want to use a variety of raw, organic vegetables, and try to eat locally and seasonally when possible. Subscribing to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for weekly produce allows you to receive a regular share of the harvest and forces you to expand your horizons and try new things! If you happen to be in the Nashville area, this is one of the farms that I love. They are certified organic and offer a great CSA program that I'm subscribing to this year.
Try to include as big of a variety of raw vegetables in each salad that you can. (But when you're running low on variety, don't let that stop you! Some is far better than none!) Some great options are: different varieties of leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula, spring mix, etc.), peppers, onions, beets, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, cucumbers, onions, leeks, etc.
Detox Salad Dressing
For the dressing, you can certainly change up the amounts to taste and add additional herbs and spices that you like, but it's important to remember to stay heavy on the turmeric. That's really important. Here's how I make mine (I adapted this dressing from one that I found at organiclifestylemagazine.com.):
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 6 tablespoons turmeric
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
Shake it up and use generously on your salad!