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Superfood Crunch Salad with Homemade Balsamic Apple Vinaigrette

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This past year was easily my most memorable on record. It started with finding out we were expecting early in January, then it was a move and a several month house renovation (I do not recommend this while pregnant, hah), my first cookbook released in March, September brought the birth of our baby girl, and in November the launch of a new business – most of these things were going on at the same time throughout 2014, including nurturing and growing this recipe blog and a new baby blog. I know I’m forgetting some things. My head is spinning just thinking about everything that happened. It was a complete whirlwind with many unexpected highs and inevitable lows, but I leave the year feeling extremely grateful with many lessons in hand and a heart filled to the brim.

The greatest blessing of my life happened this year – the birth of our daughter – and in the blink of an eye my entire life was changed for the better. I don’t know how I ever lived without this smiley, charming, squirmy baby girl. During late winter and early spring, in my first trimester, I had major anxiety about how I would handle my role as a parent. Had I made the right decision? How would I balance being a parent and my career? It kept me up at night with worry. I was never the girl who just knew I’d be a mother some day. All my friends would talk about their baby fever and I couldn’t relate at all so I started to think that I just wasn’t cut out for it. Maternal instincts seemed foreign and babies scared the bejesus out of me. For real! I felt so awkward around them. But over the years, gradually, we decided it was something we both wanted and that fear was the only thing holding us back. I guess the uncertainty was to be expected though. There were many low days during my first trimester (many of which were likely hormone driven) – including Sketchie’s heartbreaking diagnosis and subsequent treatment – but thankfully my doubts faded as the pregnancy went on. The moment Adriana was placed into my arms, I knew everything was how it was always meant to be. I just knew we’d figure it out. I’ve struggled with the desire to control things in my life for so long and finally, I learned how liberating it can feel to just take things as they come. You hear people say it all the time, but I honestly never knew my heart could love someone so much. That kind of intense love is an extremely powerful motivator – there’s no more questioning, you just do what needs to be done and that’s that.

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The New Year is shaping up to be a busy one once again, but my growing baby is a refreshing reminder that the smaller moments in life are the best. They are what make me truly happy. I’m trying to embrace the little (yet powerful) things more and let other things slide when they need to. It’s not easy. I’m hoping 2015 brings more inner peace, balance, and calmness, but I will have to do the work to make that happen because as we all know, it just doesn’t magically fall into place; whatever it is that we want only comes with a lot of hard work and perseverance. Oh, and laughter. You need that ingredient for success. Not to mention, realizing that nothing will ever be just right all at the same time…and that’s ok.

Thank you wonderful people for coming here each week and making this work that I do so very rewarding. For caring about my stories, embracing new recipes, and sharing a glimpse into your own life. I am constantly amazed by the beauty of your words and the stories you share with me. I wish you all the best that 2015 has to offer, including healthy, veggie-filled meals that renew your excitement whenever you sit down for a meal.

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In the spirit of a fresh start, let’s cue the token salad recipe to kick off another year of healthy, feel-good recipes! I’m going to skip the whole “oh I’ve been eating too many sweets and need to eat more veggies” spiel (totally true though) and just get to the recipe because its a good one!

I’ve never been one to think that a salad should be a punishment food. A good hearty salad is a cause for celebration. Call me crazy, but I tend to get as excited about a good salad as I would a rich dessert or sheet of cookies. Or a pan of roasted brussels sprouts, for that matter. It’s the small things, it really is.

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Yield
3-4 small bowls
Prep Time
Cook time
0 Minutes
Total Time

Ingredients:

For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the salad:
  • 8-10 cups destemmed and shredded Lacinato (dino) kale (2 bunches)
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/4 cup pepita seeds
  • 3-4 tbsp large flake coconut
  • 1-2 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1-2 teaspoons black sesame seeds (optional)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Adjust to taste if desired.
  2. Remove all of the stems from the kale leaves and compost the stems (or if you are hard core you can save them for smoothies). Finely chop the kale leaves into tiny “shredded” pieces. The smaller the more tender the leaves will feel. Wash and spin dry. Place kale into a large salad bowl. You should have about 8-10 cups of kale for this salad.
  3. Toss the kale in all of the dressing until everything is coated nicely. The kale will reduce in volume substantially.
  4. Add the toppings (as much as you want – I recommend lots!), sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve immediately. Or let the dressing marinate the kale for a half hour or so. This salad is best served fresh, but it will keep chilled in the fridge for a day. if you don’t think you will eat that quickly, I recommend making a half batch at a time or simply store the kale and dressing separately until ready to mix and consume.

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