It amazes me how fresh the food is out here in Seattle.
Ryan and I ate a healthy diet back in Valparaiso, but the food in Indiana was never quite fresh. Despite being in the farmland of America, the Indiana crops consist predominantly of corn and soybeans. We benefited a bit from our proximity to Chicago and Lake Michigan, but overall we did not have the best grocery selection, in terms of what stores to shop at and what those stores carried.
Even though I shopped at the more expensive, nicer grocery store in town, there was no guarantee of freshness or quality. I had to throw away bags of spinach more than once because I opened them at home and, even though the expiration date had not yet passed and the leaves looked acceptably fresh, they smelled as if they had been on the shelves for a year. That’s a one-way ticket to the trash-can if there ever was one.
And—I cringe to even share this story with you—our avocados were horrific. Every once and a while, we find ripe ones that we then immediately devoured at home, relishing them as a treat a top a bean burger or mashed into simple guac. Other times, every single avocado was overripe and sadly wasted away. On my last grocery shopping errand in Valparaiso, I attempted to select an avocado. Every single one from the large display set up for Cinco de Mayo was so ripe I could hear the flesh sloshing around inside. Seriously. I nearly gagged and cried at the same time.
And those same avocados? They cost $1.25 per piece. Here, where we have bright green avocados that arrive at the grocery store freshly picked from California, we pay 80 cents for each. These avocados taste like little fruits from heaven: creamy, flavorsome, vibrantly green, practically ambrosial.
Just in time for this irresistible influx of avocados came a flood of avocado salad dressing recipes on blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook. All these recipes made me want to try my hand (or more so, my food processor) at concocting my own avocado dressing. If I’m making salad at home, I’m going to make my own dressing. There’s too much weird stuff in bottled dressings and I prefer simple dressings as it is.
If you follow me on Instagram or have read this blog before, you know that I am obsessed with, smitten with, dependent upon sweet potatoes. Let’s not talk about the times that same grocery store in Valpo was out of sweet potatoes. I eat sweet potatoes every single day without ever tiring of their goodness. They’re so versatile—bake them, roast them, make them into fries, mash them, stuff them—and they boast several vital vitamins and nutrients.
So, this past Wednesday afternoon, I created this roasted root vegetable salad with creamy avocado dressing in order to use those beautiful avocados, get my daily sweet potato fix, and fuel my training with a healthy and delicious meal.
Let’s break down this entire salad and examine it’s health benefits, especially for runners/athletes:
Avocado provides healthy fat, particularly omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fat. For women, healthy fats are essential for maintaining a good hormone balance and preventing amenorrhea, which is a significant concern for women who run or train a lot. Additionally, the fat in the avocado will help your body optimally absorb all the vitamins in the other vegetables, since many essential vitamins are fat-soluble.
Sweet potatoes contain fiber, iron (which is so important for runners!), carotenoids, vitamin A, potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6. These nutrients will keep your eyes healthy, provide protection against sun damage, help you maintain a healthy weight, and prevent fatigue.
Beets have a special phytonutrient betalains, which is an antioxidants and an anti-inflammatory. Because of these properties, beets have been found to help reduce the risk of cancer. They are also chock full of folate, potassium, fiber, and magnesium.
Black beans provide a meat-free, plant-based source of protein and fiber. Black beans are full of antioxidants, help fight inflammation, improve digestive function, and contain the flavonoids that bring healthy balance to your cholesterol levels.
I chose romaine instead of spinach for this salad for a couple reasons. Romaine also had a nice crispness that complements the softness of the roasted vegetables. Beets can have a rather earthy taste and I figured spinach would make the whole salad too earthy-tasting. Beets are of the same family as spinach, and so romaine offered different vitamins and mineral and thus rounded out the meal more. It’s important to eat a variety of greens (read this great article for why and how you should rotate your greens) for a variety of nutrients and optimal thyroid health.
- 1 sweet potato, chopped
- 1 beet root, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1/2 cup black beans (drained & rinsed if from a can)
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-3 teaspoons water, as needed
- Salt, as desired
- Ground black pepper, as desire
- 1 teaspoon dried basil OR chopped fresh basil
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Season the sweet potato and beet with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- While the vegetables are roasting, add the avocado, garlic, green onion, and olive oil to a food processor and blend for a few minutes until smooth. Add water if need to achieve a creamy consistency and season with salt, pepper, and basil.
- Toss the romaine, black beans, roasted sweet potato, and roasted beet together in a large bowl with the avocado dressing. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Roasted root vegetable salad with creamy avocado is vegan/vegetarian and gluten free. Best of all, this salad is simple to make and can be made ahead of time, which makes it ideal for weekday lunches or a quick dinner! I’ll be linking up with Tina Muir at Fuel Your Future for Meatless Monday.
Questions of the Day:
Are you a fan of beets? —> I can’t get enough of them.
What’s your current favorite salad?