Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Spinach and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salad

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I always used to think of salads as a summer thing, but an autumn or winter salad can be so delicious and can easily be warming, especially with a good zesty dressing. The best thing about this salad is how easy it is to make. Purple sprouting broccoli is so tasty raw and by not cooking or heating it in any way it retains all 100% of possible nutrients available, meaning it’s packed with goodness. Not only is broccoli a rich source of vitamin C, it’s also full of iron, calcium, vitamin A and the phytochemical sulphoraphane which can help protect against diabetes, cancer and heart damage.

Even better, the little bunch of purple sprouting broccoli I used for this salad was grown in the UK, in a county just west of my home, so it’s the epitome of seasonal, local and fresh. Similarly, spinach is still just about in season in Britain, which is fantastic, so I just had to make something with it. And again, by eating raw spinach our bodies have the chance to soak up more vitamins, minerals and nutrients, which is always a good thing. The avocado adds a creamy dimension and the toasted pumpkin seeds are bursting with flavour – lightly crunchy and warm. They also give the salad an autumnal element, as now is the perfect time for pumpkins and squash. Drizzling all the ingredients with an olive oil, lime and tahini dressing really tops this salad off, making it scrummy and the complete opposite of what many people think of as salad. This is far from a boring and tasteless collection of flaccid iceberg lettuce, tomato and cucumber. It’s so healthy, packed with protein and is a seasonal feast which will fill you up without any stodge – perfect for a light autumn lunch. So whip it up and tuck in!

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Serves 1

For the salad:

  • 3 or 4 stems of purple sprouting broccoli (depending on their size)
  • A large handful of spinach leaves
  • ½ an avocado
  • A handful of pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of tahini
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper

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Simply wash the broccoli, dry it and then slice into small pieces. Wash the spinach in a salad spinner and place in a bowl along with the broccoli pieces. Cut open your avocado into two halves then scoop out the flesh from one of the halves before slicing it into small cubes. Add them to the salad bowl as well and toss with the spinach and broccoli.

To make the dressing, cut the lime in half and squeeze out all its juice into a jug before adding all the other ingredients. Then stir with a fork to make sure it all combines nicely.

Next, place the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan and turn the hob on to a medium heat. After a minute or two they’ll start to toast so make sure you turn them and shift them about so they cook evenly. Once they start going a little brown remove them from the heat. Sprinkle them over the salad, drizzle over the dressing and mix it all up before enjoying!

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Apple, Cucumber, Lime & Mint Juice (aka Healthy Mojito)

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Our apple tree has always been a bit of an unreliable, fickle thing. Some years it produces one apple, some years none, and then this year it goes and surprises us by sprouting loads of little green balls, and early in the season too. These apples are great for stewing or for apple crumble, but I just love them in a juice. They’re about the freshest thing I can get my hands on, with the tree just a few steps from our kitchen door, and when you drink this garden apple nectar and compare it to the fake, artificial, sugar-filled juice you find in the supermarket, you realise it is real juice.

The combination of apple with the other flavours is amazing. I used to love mojitos – the mixture of lime, mint and sugar is a real taste explosion in the mouth. So sweet, so zesty. But since giving up alcohol and refined sugar sipping on a cocktail isn’t something I like to do. However, this doesn’t matter in the least because this juice tastes like the real thing and, what’s more, is bursting with nutrients.

Juicing is so good for you because the vegetable and fruit liquid basically bypasses your digestive system, and the nutrients are absorbed straight into your cells. There are so many antioxidants and vitamins in just one glass of this juice, giving you an energy boost without overloading your body with too much sugar, thanks to the cucumber, broccoli and spinach. The mint (freshly picked from my garden) adds further nourishment and goodness to the juice through its ability to promote digestion, soothe and alleviate inflammation, cleanse the skin and stave off fatigue as a natural stimulant. All blended together, this really tastes divine and leaves you feeling invigorated and uplifted – so get juicing!

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Makes 1 large glass:

  • 2 medium-sized apples
  • 4 inch piece of cucumber
  • 1 green broccoli stem
  • A handful of spinach
  • Half a lime
  • A good handful of mint leaves

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Put all the ingredients into the juicer and flip the switch. Be sure to squash the spinach and mint leaves between the apples, cucumber or broccoli so they juice well and the flavours really come out. Pour the liquid into a glass with a couple of ice cubes and sip on a sunny afternoon!

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