My “Smart” Spinach Salad

spinach salad

Recently, I was making a salad at a Whole Foods salad bar (it’s actually a very good salad bar, if you haven’t tried it before), and I suddenly realized I was compiling a virtual advertisement for “smart” ingredients or “superfoods” that have a reputation for supporting brain health. I believe, this is how the best salads come about; you have to be in a situation with a ton of ingredients around you, and maybe one in ten times you’ll just come up with a perfect balance. This is sort of what happened to me recently, and given the initially random infusion of brain food I decided to call it my “Smart” Spinach Salad (not the most creative title, I grant you, but a salad’s name should be descriptive above all else).

I started with a base of spinach, which is right up there with kale as one of the healthiest types of greens. Dark leafy greens contain lutein, which “helps to preserve cognitive function and mental sharpness” as the brain ages. I mixed in a little bit of arugula as well, because arugula is delicious, but this is essentially a spinach salad.

I went for the protein next, because I consider it to be part of the “base” of the salad, rather than a topping. In this case this meant a little bit of cold grilled chicken and one cold, hard-boiled egg (which is also good for the brain, apparently!). Typically I don’t want my salad to be smothered in meat. But a little bit, at least if I’m treating the salad as a full meal, always helps.

Next I went in for the red pepper flakes. These magical flakes are not for everybody. I like things a little on the spicy side (and spicy food is good for raising metabolism, though it has nothing to do with brain health), and it’s surprisingly hard to make a salad spicy. But red pepper flakes (the same kind you see on your table at pizza restaurants” can mix in nicely and add a little bit of kick to things without being too disruptive.

The next bit was when I realized I was basically packing the thing with brain food. I went for walnuts and blueberries, both of which have a certain reputation. In fact when I thought to look things up afterward, I found both of these ingredients mentioned in the same article – oddly enough on brain food for gamers. The article referenced “scientifically proven brain benefits” for both. Throw in beet shavings, and I had yet another brain-healthy food. I actually don’t love beets, but I know they’re good for heart health (I didn’t know they were good brain food until after I’d started researching this salad), and shavings really don’t have much taste.

I topped the salad off with miniature carrot strips and scallions, sprinkled on some goat cheese (feta will do nicely if you find goat a bit strong), and when I got home I added a mix of olive oil and lemon juice for dressing and threw on some cracked pepper, and that was it! It was quite nice that night, and I’ve since perfected it. It’s a fresh, healthy, and wonderful little salad that I’d heartily recommend to anybody looking for a fun new recipe.

Easy Spinach Salad Ingredients

5 cups spinach
1 cup arugula
4 strips grilled chicken
1 hard boiled egs
¼ cup red pepper flakes
1 cup walnuts
1 cup blueberries
½ cup shredded beets
½ cup shredded carrots
¾ cup crumbled goat cheese
¼ cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ lemon (juice)
black pepper to your liking


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