Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spinach Salad with Grapefruit and Feta

Here's a heart-healthy recipe to wrap up American Heart Month. In the last post, Go Red (and Orange and Yellow) for Heart Health, I talked about how to add the benefits of brightly-colored fruits and veggies to your meals, since they're great for heart health. This recipe suits that goal by including ruby red grapefruit. Yes, I know--it's something you might not ordinarily add to your salad. But the sweet and salty combination will make you fall in love! This is a great winter-time salad too since both spinach and grapefruit are seasonal this time of year.

There are many components of meals that benefit cholesterol and heart health and this one makes the grade on all fronts:
  • High fiber
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Contains unsaturated fats
  • Low sodium
  • High potassium content
  • High vitamin and antioxidant content

Let's break down the ingredients. One medium grapefruit contains 340mg potassium (nearly as much as a banana), 3 grams of fiber, 84mg vitamin C (a little more than an orange) and 300 IU vitamin A (almost as much as one cup of milk).

For reference, the recommended daily values for these nutrients are: Vitamin C 50-60mg | Potassium 4,700mg | Vitamin A 2300 IU for women and 3000 IU for men | Fiber 20-35 grams.

Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are a good source of unsaturated fats and fiber. The olive oil found in the dressing also contains heart-healthy unsaturated fats. And the spinach is packed with vitamins and antioxidants along with, you guessed it, fiber. Just a dab of reduced-fat feta cheese adds a little salty flavor with minimal amounts of saturated fat, a nutrient commonly found in high concentrations in cheese. Enjoy the flavor and the health. Cheers!

Spinach Salad with Grapefruit and Feta
Serves 4.

  • 8 cups baby spinach
  • 1 grapefruit, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 ounces light feta cheese, crumbled (I like Trader Joe's)
  • 2 tablespoons raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds; again I like Trader Joe's)
  • 1 tablespoon blood orange olive oil (may substitute olive oil)*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cranberry pear balsamic vinegar (may substitute rice vinegar)*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

  1. Prepare the salad dressing (this can be done ahead of time): Add olive oil, vinegars and seasonings to a small jar. Shake to combine. (I like to keep a jar around just for mixing dressings. A canning jar works well or just one you saved from some finished olives or jelly. If you don't have a jar, just whisk together the ingredients in a bowl).
  2. Add spinach, grapefruit, feta and pepitas to a large salad or serving bowl. Pour dressing on top. Lightly toss to combine.
  3. Serve immediately.
*Flavored oils and vinegars are gaining popularity and are available at specialty stores such as Di'Olivas (in St. Louis) or sometimes at Homegoods. Check locally for a shop near you. It's worth it--they add incredible flavor to your home-cooked meals.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Calories 116 | Total Fat 6g | Saturated Fat 1.5g | Cholesterol 2mg | Sodium 236mg | Carb 11g | Fiber 3g | Sugar 5g | Protein 6g.