Simple Summer Supper: Bean Salad & Spinach Arugula Salad

The last few weeks have been not only crazy in our household (getting ready for the big move), but also hot here in Richmond, Virginia.  As expected, as the temperatures outside heat up, I am less and less interested in "cooking" in the conventional sense (...sound familiar?).  Because preparing our meals is my responsibility, in the summer, I usually lean towards easy, delicious, and refreshing meals.  This simple summer supper is a combination of crunchy, sweet, and healthfully raw--leaving you refreshed and reenergized without the possibility of heavy food hangover.

For the Spinach Arugula Salad, I simply tossed half spinach and half arugula in a large bowl.  I like using the arugula here, instead of only spinach, for a nice bite--arugula is a little "spicy," in some ways, so it really adds depth to the otherwise very simple salad.  I diced a handful of strawberries and topped the whole thing with sunflower seeds.  As a dressing, I used a simple, delicious balsamic vinegar (with olive oil on the side for anyone who wanted a more traditional dressing).

Spinach Arugula Salad Ingredients:
1-1 1/2 c fresh spinach
1-1 1/2 c fresh arugula
about 7-10 fresh strawberries, diced
3 T sunflower seeds, unsalted
balsamic vinegar to dress

Directions: Combine in a large bowl and serve.

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For the Bean Salad, I made a combination of two of my favorites (click to see the previous posts): Black Bean Salad and Carrot, Apple, & Celery Salad.  Each of these is excellent on its own, but one time last year I made them both and the flavors really enhanced each other. 

Now that I've quit cheese, I took the feta out from the Carrot, Apple, & Celery Salad.  I also switched up the type of apple I used.  For the new salad, I used the following:

What you need:
- a colander to drain beans
- a good knife
- a cutting board
- a large bowl
- measuring spoon
- a large spoon or pair to combine salad

Bean Salad Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 c black beans (about one can), rinsed and drained
- 3-4 large carrots, scrubbed (but they don't have to be peeled) and chopped
- 3-4 celery stalks, chopped
- 1/4 large white onion, chopped
- 1 large apple, chopped
- 2 T olive oil
- juice of 1/2-1 fresh lemon
- salt and pepper

Health Benefits of the whole meal:

Spinach: known to provide vitamins C and K, as well as fiber, antioxidants, and beta-carotene
Arugula: provides phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, and vitamins such as folates and vitamins A & K, and may protect against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers "by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition"
Strawberries: in addition to the many antioxidants and phytonutrients in strawberries, they offer cardiovascular support and prevention of cardiovascular diseases, increased regulation of blood sugar, with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and  protection against certain cancer types including breast, cervical, colon, and esophageal cancer
Sunflower Seeds: contain vitamin E, magnesium and selenium, which assist in cancer prevention, cardiovascular health, lowering of cholesterol, anti-inflammation and improved detoxification

Celery: contains vitamins K and A, fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties
Carrot: provides vitamin A, multiple antioxidants including beta-carotene, but has also demonstrated cardiovascular, vision, and anti-cancer (particularly colon cancer) benefits
Onions: part of the Allium family (with garlic), several servings a week decrease your risk for multiple cancers, may provide anti-clotting and protection for the heart and blood vessels, helps to increase bone density, supplies anti-inflammatory benefits, prevents bacterial infection
Apple: provide antioxidants called flavonoids and vitamin C, which reduce risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  Apple skins also contain fiber and potassium.
Black Beans: high in fiber and therefore helpful for digestive tract, increased satiety and decreased calorie intake, decreased cardiovascular risk, supplies antioxidants, and provides better regulation of blood sugar
Olive Oil: provides cardioprotective effect and decreased risk of heart disease, decreased risk of cancer, anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits, and cognitive benefits, including improved cognitive function (especially in older adults)
Lemon Juice: contains phytonutrients with antioxidant and antibiotic effects, and cancer-fighting limonoids

What is your favorite simple summer supper?

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