Have you ever heard the phrase "eat the rainbow"? It refers to eating a great variety of colors of fruits and vegetables for a variety of nutrients. Well, now you can eat the entire rainbow at once with this gorgeous "Eat the Rainbow" Spinach Salad with the most delightful Blueberry Vinaigrette!
While wilted or sauteed spinach is okay to me (honestly I could take it or leave it), spinach salads are a must! Dark greens are at their peak right now, and it's incredible how few most people eat.
Spinach is a great source of vitamin A and vitamin K, in addition to its fiber content. It’s important to eat leafy greens daily, but they don’t always have to be in salads! Some other great spinach recipes are Green Banana Mint Pancakes, and High Potassium Chocolate Sweet Potato Smoothie!
I chose black beans for this recipe because of their dark color that would complete my "rainbow." Really any bean would work great. Beans are incredibly nutritious, and most people don’t eat enough. Beans are high in phytochemicals and magnesium, among other nutrients. I recommend eating them at least once every day – more if you can!
What's better than a bright red tomato in summer? I mean, tomatoes are basically the mascots of summer, and certainly belong in most any salad you're making.
Tomatoes are high in lycopene (an antioxidant), which is well known for its role in prostate health. But did you know it also protect your heart? Lycopene seems to not only lower your risk of stroke, but also lower your risk of having additional cardiac events. Superstar tomatoes!
Blueberries are like little heart protecting powerhouses, so of course they had to go into this rainbow spinach salad. They have been shown to improve markers of cardiovascular function when consumed daily in a 6 month trial, and another study found berries may be able to play an important role in cardiovascular disease prevention. Blueberries and other dark blue, purple, and red fruits and vegetables are high in anthocyanins, a type of flavanoid that seems to have a strong heart protective effect.
Here's a vegetable you might not consider putting in a salad. But how gorgeous is it in here?! You can absolutely use green cabbage - your salad will just be minus this beautiful purple.
Purple cabbage contains anthocyanins, like blueberries. They're also cruciferous vegetables, so provide all the same health benefits of broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. This group of food is known to have anti-cancer properties, as well as overall strong antioxidant activity.
I love carrots in salads because of their super crunch power! In this case, I cut them julienne. I liked the way that looked. But cut them any way that's easiest for you. Besides being low in calories, and high in fiber, carrots are also an excellent source of vitamin A, with a bit of Vitamin K and potassium, to boot.
Bell peppers come in a variety of colors: red, yellow, green, purple. Peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, and very low in calories, since they are high in water. Any color will do here. I personally prefer red or yellow because they are sweeter.
One of my favorite fruits! Second only to mangoes. Raspberries have many of the same antioxidant powers as blueberries. These little gems will stay good only a few days, so eat them quick! Don't rinse them until right before you're going to use them so they don't turn to mush.
Walnuts are widely regarded as one of, if not THE heart healthiest nut out there. Of course any nut is great for your heart, but walnut seem to be somewhat special. They have a unique blend of oils and antioxidants that sets them apart. Walnut consumption has been linked with lower risk of cardiovascular disease in many studies, and are a delicious way to combat heart disease!
High in monounsaturated fats, it’s one of the heart healthiest oils you can get. Extra virgin olive oil is considered the best, but it’s not great for cooking. It is, however, perfect for making salad dressing! If you want a great all purpose oil, regular olive oil is good. You can also use grapeseed oil or avocado oil. A neutrally flavored oil is what you're going for.
Balsamic vinegar has a deep, rich flavor, that's almost sweet. It was an obvious choice for a blueberry dressing! If you need a substitute, apple cider vinegar would be the next best thing. It's a bit on the sweet side, too.
Balsamic vinegar has been explored for its potential to lower triglycerides and total cholesterol, but more research will need to be done in this area. In the meantime, it’s a delicious way to add flavor salads and beyond!
How to Make a Rainbow Salad
Salads are so great because you can just toss everything together and go. This one's no different. Once you've got your veggies chopped up, you're practically done!
If you want to arrange your ingredients in a rainbow pattern, it will certainly turn some heads!
How to Make Blueberry Vinaigrette
Be sure to make the vinaigrette! It's really easy, and so yummy! It pulls the fruits and vegetables together perfectly in this rainbow spinach salad. I actually used frozen blueberries in this because they get really juicy when they thaw. Fresh blueberry would work alright though.
If you are using frozen berries, thaw them first. Then just toss everything, except water, in a food processor and blend until smooth. Mine was a bit thick, so I just added a bit of water until it was the consistency I wanted.
"Eat the Rainbow" Spinach Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette
This heart healthy salad is everything summer! A simple throw-together meal that's great for packing for lunch, or dinner on a steamy evening.
For the Rainbow Salad
- 4 cups Baby Spinach
- 1 cup Black Beans (canned without salt if possible)
- ½ cup Grape Tomatoes
- ½ cup Blueberries
- ½ cup Purple Cabbage, shredded
- 1 Carrot, julienne or shredded
- ½ Yellow Pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup Red Raspberries
- 2 tablespoon Walnuts (optional)
For the Blueberry Vinaigrette (Makes 6 servings)
- ½ cup Blueberries (frozen work best)
- ½ cup Olive Oil
- 3 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- Water to thin
Arrange the salad ingredients on two plates, in any way you like.
Make the dressing by thawing the blueberries, if using frozen. Add all the dressing ingredients to a small food processor, and process on high until blueberries are completely pureed into the dressing. If the dressing is thick, add a tablespoon or so of water to thin it out.
Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the dressing on each salad.