Spinach Salad with Oil-less Balsamic Vinaigrette


Salad, salad, salad! Not a day goes by that I don't enjoy a big bowl of the green stuff. When someone asks what my favorite food is, the answer is most definitely salad (pasta is a close second!). Anything from a bowl really is my type of eating. I've never been much for the typical plate of a protein, grain or starch, and vegetable. I would way rather have a ton of stuff all mixed together in a bowl. So that's why salad is my perfect, go-to, anytime, all the time meal.

This salad is what you can find me eating every single day. For lunch, and sometimes again at dinner. I love filling up a bowl with tons of greens, roasted chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, avocado, chopped apple, raisins, and walnuts. Throw a veggie burger on top every once in a while - perfection! And made even more perfect when combined with this delicious Oil-less Balsamic Vinaigrette.

There was a time that I was very guilty of totally over using oil. On salads, in cooking - pretty much with everything. Now that I think about it, it kind of grosses me out. I've now found a really good, healthy balance with oils, but I still love that this dressing has no oil in it and yet is such a delicious vinaigrette - just a much healthier version. 

Not only is this salad delicious, it also has so many wonderful health benefits. Just from the spinach alone you are getting a big nutritious boost.

Spinach is high in zinc, iron, protein, fiber, folate, calcium, and vitamin B6 as well as vitamins A, C, E and K. 

Avocados are also high in vitamins and minerals, and have more potassium than bananas. They are loaded with fiber and heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.

Cherry tomatoes contain antioxidants, along with protein, fiber, and vitamin C.

Walnuts also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammitory properties proven to have anti-cancer benefits, and are packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids. 

Raisins are known to help with regularity, and are high in iron and potassium. 

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans are one of my all time favorite foods. They are such a wonderful source of plant-based protein and fiber. I seriously can't get enough of these little gems!

The vinaigrette has great health benefits as well. It is high in fiber from the dates, and vitamins and minerals from the nutritional yeast, including B vitamins which are so important when following a plant-based diet. B vitamins help to convert our food into fuel, allowing us to be energized all day, and are also essential to the production of red blood cells. Nutritional yeast is also high in protein and fiber. 

Spinach Salad with Oil-less Balsamic Vinaigrette

(Makes 1 Serving)

Spinach Salad Ingredients:
3 cups organic spinach
1/2 cup organic cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup chickpeas, roasted
1/2 of an organic apple, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts
1 - 2 Tbs raisins
1/2 of an avocado

Oil-less Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients:
3 Tbs pitted dates, chopped
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs reduced sodium tamari
2 Tbs dijon mustard
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs onion powder
1 clove garlic

Spinach Salad Instructions:

1. If using canned chickpeas, strain and rinse, then place in a nonstick pan on medium heat. (I like to add a little garlic powder, ground cumin, and turmeric, however you can always leave them plain). Cook for about 8-10 minutes, tossing occasionally so they don't stick. 

2. While chickpeas are roasting in the pan, wash spinach and place in a salad bowl. Top with the remaining ingredients - chopped apple, tomatoes, raisins, walnuts, and avocado. Once the chickpeas are done, add them to the salad. 

3. Add your desired amount of Oil-less Balsamic Vinaigrette. Stuff your face!

Oil-less Balsamic Vinaigrette Instructions:

1. Chop dates and place them into a sauce pot with two cups of water. Once water comes to a boil, save 1/4 cup of the date water and put to the side. Strain dates and place them into a small bowl for a few minutes to continue to soften.

2. Once dates have softened, place them into a blender. Add reserved date water, balsamic vinegar, tamari, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, onion powder, and garlic. Puree until smooth. 

I seriously love this salad so much and feel like it helps me to stay full and energized all day long. Every time I have it I am reminded of why I eat this way and how amazing it is when you fuel your body with the proper foods and nutrients. When you think about it, you have this one body, this one vessel to go through life with. Why wouldn't you want to take the best care possible of it? We will spend so much money on clothes, shoes, and frivolous things, and then not spend the extra money to buy organic or the proper foods that are so important for us. Not that clothes aren't important..I am a major fashion lover! I just feel that it is extremely important to remember that our bodies come first, and to really think about every little thing we put into our bodies. Because without health, we have nothing. And you don't really realize how important that is until it is taken away from you. 

xo Natalie