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This winter salad is a thing of beauty, strength

Winter Salad With Avocado Ranch Dressing is filled with good-for-you ingredients, including kale.

Associated Press

Winter Salad With Avocado Ranch Dressing is filled with good-for-you ingredients, including kale.

Winter is upon us. I live in San Diego, and let's be honest: The notion of us slogging through a frigid few months awaiting spring's thaw is ridiculous. Yet, I'm cold. It's chilly and cloudy and yes, sometimes, even rainy.

We all spend more time inside the minute sweater becomes jacket weather. And when the indoor winter blahs get to me, I turn toward my first line of defense to get out of my funk: my diet. When I'm in a slump, I immediately consider what I am eating. I stop processed sugar and focus on getting extra veggies, protein, fiber and healthy fats filled with brain-and-heart-healthy omegas.

This salad is that dose. It's filled with high-protein Brussels sprouts as the main green (1 cup of Brussels sprouts has about as much protein as an egg white) and coupled with nutrient-rich dark green kale. Also in the salad are crunchy, healthy goodies like walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts and even flaxseed. A little cooked quinoa means that ground flaxseed and hemp hearts will fit right in without a grainy mouth-feel. And a handful of pomegranate seeds adds just the right amount of tart and sweet. The salad is tossed with an avocado ranch dressing, so even the creamy, fatty dressing is a nutritious ally.

It's a gorgeous salad — beautiful to behold and to eat. You could add a few ounces of salmon if you want more omegas and protein, but honestly, this salad is filling and satisfying all on its own, with 16 grams of protein per serving even in its totally meatless state.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."

WINTER SALAD WITH AVOCADO RANCH DRESSING

2 cups Brussels sprouts, stem end trimmed, thinly sliced

2 cups thin slices of Lacinato kale (dark green variety; about 4 large leaves, thinly sliced)

1 cup cooked quinoa

¼ cup raw walnuts, chopped

3 tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons of raw hemp hearts (hemp seeds)

3 tablespoons of milled flaxseed

½ cup halved grape tomatoes

½ cup pomegranate seeds (also called arils)

¼ cup chopped cilantro

For the avocado ranch dressing:

½ large avocado

½ cup low-fat buttermilk

2 tablespoons prepared salsa

2 tablespoons lime juice (or lemon juice)

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon minced shallot

½ cup roughly chopped cilantro

¼ teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper

Mix the Brussels sprouts and sliced kale in a large bowl. Add the remaining salad ingredients and toss. In a blender, mix all the dressing ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add an additional tablespoon or two of water if too thick. Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss well. Add more dressing if desired. Serve.

Serves 4.

Note: Feel free to swap out nuts and seeds for your favorites.

Nutrition information per serving (salad): 359 calories (190 calories from fat), 21g fat (3g saturated, 0g trans fats), 0mg cholesterol, 34mg sodium, 29g carbohydrates, 9g fiber, 6g sugar, 16g protein.

Nutrition information per serving (dressing): 52 calories (29 calories from fat), 3g fat (1g saturated, 0g trans fats), 2mg cholesterol, 237mg sodium, 5g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 2g sugar, 2g protein.

This winter salad is a thing of beauty, strength 12/22/16 [Last modified: Thursday, December 22, 2016 6:00pm]
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