A Festive Salad That Packs a Nutritional Punch

Whether for potluck or your own holiday table, make a tasty, festive salad that packs a nutritional punch. Our modern twist on a traditional Waldorf is loaded with essential superfoods. Add a lighter side to your holiday feast!

First, a couple of tips to making your salad the best it can be:

Ditch the processed dressing

Processed and bottled salad dressings are quick and easy, right? Okay, so the veggies make up for the dressing, right? Well, over time, even some of the healthiest intentions can take a toll on a body. Check out the ingredients listed on most bottled dressings and you’ll soon discover added sugars, unhealthy fats and preservatives.  

Even so-called “low-fat” and “fat-free” dressings can be harmful to your health. To make up for lost taste, manufacturers often add more sodium and sugar — yikes!

If that’s not reason enough to make your own salad dressings, a study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests that cutting back on fat in your dressing doesn’t necessarily mean a healthier salad. In fact, the opposite may be true.

“If you have a salad with a fat-free dressing, there is a reduction in calories, but you lose some of the benefits of the vegetables,” suggests Mario Ferruzzi, the study’s lead author and a Purdue University associate professor of food science. The study went on to suggest that salad dressing made from monounsaturated fat-rich oils, such as olive oil and some nut oils, help the body to absorb carotenoids — and only a small amount of oil is needed to do the job.

Carotenoids are associated with reduced risk of chronic and degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. In comparison, you need much more saturated fat and polyunsaturated fats, found in most bottled dressings, to obtain the same benefits.

Add “superfoods” to your festive salad

“Superfoods” are foods that go above and beyond to give your salad a nutritional punch. Cranberries, oranges, avocados and nuts are superfoods with extremely dense nutrient profiles. With heart disease, diabetes and obesity on the rise, adding whole, unprocessed superfoods to your diet may help prevent and even fight certain diseases.

In addition, adding fruit, berries and nuts to your salad may be an unexpected treat for anyone who normally turns up their nose to conventional vegetables. This festive, gluten- and dairy-free Waldorf salad is loaded with nutrient-rich superfoods and is high in omega-3 fatty acids.

The creamy dressing made with avocado (another superfood) replaces the yogurt and mayonnaise, making this an ideal vegan salad.

Cranberry Waldorf Salad with Honey Avocado Dressing
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
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Recipe by:The Alternative Daily
  • 1cup chopped pecans
  • 1tsp spice mix (½ tsp paprika and ½ tsp cayenne pepper)
  • 2tbsp raw honey (or pure maple syrup for vegans)
  • 1/2cup celery, chopped thinly
  • 2large granny smith apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
  • 2large red delicious apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
  • 1cup green seedless grapes, halved lengthwise
  • 1cup chopped fresh cranberries
  • 1/2cup microgreens
  • 1medium organic avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4cup of freshly squeezed organic orange juice
  • 2tbsp raw honey (or pure maple syrup for vegans)
  • 2tbsp freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
  • 1/4cup walnut oil
  • 1/4tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4tsp sea salt
Servings: servings
  1. Prepare pecans: Lay a sheet of parchment paper on the kitchen counter. Add pecans to a skillet and toast gently over medium-high heat — approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add spice mix and coat. Add honey and stir to mix. Stir continuously for approximately 30 seconds. Turn pecans onto the parchment paper, spreading with a spoon. Allow pecans to cool.
  2. Prepare dressing: Combine avocado pieces, orange juice, honey, lemon juice, walnut oil, pepper, and salt together in a blender. Puree until smooth. Store dressing in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, until ready to use.
  3. Prepare salad: Place chopped celery, chopped apples, grape halves, and chopped cranberries into a large mixing bowl. Gently fold in avocado dressing. Top with honey-glazed pecans, and garnish with microgreens.

Merry Christmas

Lighten your festive table with a new twist on an old favorite!

—The Alternative Daily


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