A good salad is a work of art. While I love a big green salad with every color of the raw rainbow, there is no reason why a salad can’t also be a rich and decadent comfort food, making you feel full and cozy on a cold day. The Harvest Bliss Bowl is just such a salad. With an array of textures and flavors, this sweet and savory bowl is like being wrapped in a warm blanket of yum.
Plus, I have a bonus tip for you about the beloved vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which we all know leads to stronger bones. It also helps prevent cancer, improves your immune system, and prevents aging. If you are eating a well rounded whole foods plant based diet, you are already on your way to having much stronger bones that your dairy drinking friends. Crazy you say? Actually the newest research on dairy has shown that it creates an acidic environment in the body. Your body does not want to be acidic, so it draws calcium OUT of your bones to neutralize the acidity. This is why osteoporosis is so much higher in regions around the world that depend heavily on dairy, like the UK and North America; whereas in places where they do not consume dairy, osteoporosis is almost non-existent. Think about who is telling you that milk ‘does a body good’, the company selling you milk? The government approved food pyramid created by representatives with ties to the dairy industry? Sorry to burst your yogurt bubble guys, but dairy is making swiss cheese out of your femurs.
Feel free to google it on your own. Here’s a start.
Now back to that bonus tip I started to tell you about! We know that your body can create it’s own vitamin D just by getting a little sunshine, but guess what else does that? Mushrooms! If you leave 100 grams of fresh mushrooms out in a sunny spot, gills up, for 8 hours, they will increase there vitamin D content from 40 IU to 46ooo IU!!! Do you know what the average daily recommendation is? Only 800 IU a day! All the vitamin D you could ever ask for, just waiting to be activated in that cute little mushroom cap. This also means that leaving them out in the sun for even 10 minutes will give them a boost. And on top of that, mushrooms create an alkaline environment in your body, so not only do they not throw your PH off balance, they actually make it better!
I like to make all the parts of this salad ahead of time, then assembly is only a two minute process. This is great even if everything is served cold!
Harvest Bliss Bowl
Makes about 4 servings
for the quinoa:
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup rinsed quinoa
Combine the quinoa and broth in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, cook for approx. 15 minutes. Fluff and set aside or refrigerate.
for the roasted veggies:
2 portobello mushroom caps (vitamin D turbo-charged preferred) cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 cloves garlic, cut in half
1/2 sweet vidalia onion, roughly quartered
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp each of crushed dried rosemary, dried thyme, black pepper, dried oregano (or just a couple tsp of italian seasoning)
salt to taste
For the garlic croutons:
3 slices crusty bread, chopped into small cubes
1 tbs olive oil
a heavy sprinkle of garlic powder
for the roasted pecans:
1/2 cup raw pecans
2 tbs maple syrup,
salt to taste
1 tsp black pepper
3 cups of rocket arugula
2 tbs first cold pressed olive oil
a little squeeze of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 tbs balsamic vinegar reduction per portion, for drizzling (directions for reducing balsamic here.)
Assuming that you have already made your quinoa and it is waiting for you in the fridge, preheat the oven to 400. Toss all the roasting vegetables in a big bowl with the herbs, salt, and olive oil until evenly coated. Lay them out on a foil lined pan. The more you space them apart, the more they will caramelize, the more you cram them together, the more they will steam. I was in a hurry so I crammed, and they still came out great. Put the veggies in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, giving them a good stir every 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temp to 375. In a small bowl toss all of the crouton ingredients until they are well coated. In a separate bowl, toss all your pecan ingredients until well coated. These can go in the oven together on separate sides of a big foil lined roasting pan to save you time. Check on them about every 3 minutes and give them a toss. Both of these items toast up fast and burn easily, so I just commit to standing there watching and tossing until they are perfect, about 8 minutes.
Finally, in another bowl, toss the arugula and oil and lemon juice until well coated.
To assemble, scoop a big pile of quinoa into the bottom of your salad bowl. Top with the arugula, and then scatter the roasted vegetables, pecans, and croutons on top. Drizzle with balsamic reduction or eat as is. Cozy and delicious!