For Thanksgiving….and beyond!
Thanksgiving is only a couple of weeks away. I know. I know. Your head is swimming with recipe options and you haven’t even nailed down your menu, let alone your guest list. Let’s get real. Your visions of a healthy meal are mostly in YOUR head. The rest of the gang is far more into tradition and those sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top aren’t disappearing from their ideal Thanksgiving meal! I’ve had much more success introducing new menu items to the Thanksgiving meal when I’m not trying to replace the staples that have always been on the table. I’ve learned not to mess with what’s working (for everyone else)….and to just add in what I would like to see on the table. Yes, it means more work. More dishes. More shopping…..but it also means a more well rounded menu, and some healthy options that maybe, just maybe you won’t be the only one eating.
Salad seems to be the last thing on anyone’s mind for Thanksgiving. Truthfully, the thing that most Thanksgiving menus are lacking is fresh greens and other non-starchy vegetables. Truthfully, those are the same things lacking on most menus any day of the week! Finding ways to make salad more interesting and tasty invites non-salad eaters to give it a try.
Although winter squash has a reputation for being a starch, it is relatively low on the glycemic index—meaning it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels, and is also nutrient dense—-meaning you get a lot of good stuff for a modest calorie spend. I like that! Butternut squash is loaded with Vitamin A and C, has a good amount of fiber, manganese, copper and B6. Another benefit of eating butternut squash is the combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, giving it huge potential to fight off disease and promote better health.
I like to use Kale when I make a salad that needs to hold up for a bit. You can certainly substitute a box of baby greens that are washed and ready to go….just don’t toss the dressing on too early. Another way to make this and save some time is to buy the butternut squash already peeled, or even peeled and cubed. There’s no shame in taking some “short cuts” if it means that you’ll actually be able to make and enjoy this healthy recipe.
The dressing for this salad is simple and goes well on any mixture of greens, grains, cooked or raw veggies. One of the reasons I add a bit of avocado oil to the olive oil is so that when refrigerated, the dressing doesn’t solidify. It’s a great tip when you want to make enough dressing to keep in the fridge for a bit. All of the components to this salad can be made in advance, and stored until ready to use. We can nibble on this salad all week, adding different nuts, or seeds, or even pomegranate seeds or other toppings tossed together with the squash and dressing. Always delicious.
Even if this salad doesn’t make it onto your Thanksgiving menu, you family still has to eat while you prepare for the holiday…..and every day through the winter months. Roast up a batch of butternut squash to have on hand to decorate your salad with.