A while ago, friends brought over a very tasty “salad in a bag”. Then, just last week, Grace and I were chatting, and she mentioned how much she too loved this particular salad in a bag. It turns out this salad has a very large and loyal fan base! It’s a delicious combination of kale, shredded Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage. It also comes with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and a poppyseed dressing.
Shortly after my chat with Grace, I thought it would be fun to try to recreate the salad and then share it with you. Bagged salads have become very popular, and you can’t beat their convenience. They’re also much healthier than the vast majority of other convenience foods.
So, if bagged salads are so convenient, and this one in particular is so tasty, why would I bother to recreate it? Two reasons: economics and nutrition.
Economics: We pay dearly for convenience. When you look at the volume of produce in a bagged salad, it’s not very much. I was shocked at the little packet of pumpkin seeds and cranberries…they were stingy! I think you could make this salad for yourself at about a quarter of the price of having it pre-made. Plus, you get way more of the yummy stuff!
Nutrition: Nutrient loss in produce occurs with exposure to heat, oxygen and light. When fruits and vegetables are cut, there is a diminishment of nutrients, in particular vitamins C, A and E. These vitamins are considered “antioxidants”, and when they react with oxygen, their bioavailability (what we absorb) is reduced. Also, when vegetables are cut or bruised, the enzyme polyphenol oxidase gets exposed, which results in browning. Often when you look at packaged salads, you will see a little browning around the edges – this is why! Another consideration is the length of time the contents have been sitting in the bag. For optimal nutrition, it’s best to consume as close to harvest time as possible, which is why our local farmers’ markets are so terrific!
Another benefit to making your own salad, especially as it relates to the dressing, is that you know everything you put in to it. Often commercial salad dressings use lesser quality oils, processed vinegar and a host of stabilizers and preservatives. I used local honey from our friends at Roost Farm and local, raw apple cider vinegar – the original superfoods!
This will take a bit of time with all the chopping and shredding (hope you have a food processor!), but it is delicious, and you will be able to make at least four times as much – think of the savings!
*I used fresh baby kale that I picked up at the farmers’ market. Larger kale leaves often have a very tough, woody stem which isn’t nice to eat. I would suggest baby kale….all of it is tender, and there’s no waste.
2 cups of finely chopped kale
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded Brussels sprouts
1 shredded carrot
1 cup shredded broccoli
1 small – medium sized shredded beet
4 tablespoons lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/4 cup avocado or olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar – the more local the better!
2 teaspoons honey – again, the more local the better!
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Thinly slice kale. Using a food processor with shredding blade, shred the cabbage, carrot, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and beet. Add vegetable to large serving bowl. Toss with dressing and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and cranberries. Makes 6 generous servings.