Did you know that it was “Blue Monday” on the 16th? I guess the third Monday of January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. The holidays are over, credit card bills are rolling in post-Christmas, and the weather is well, generally dreary if you live in a winter climate. I can’t say I felt particularly “blue” on that Monday, but I’m definitely not one to get through the whole winter without experiencing some sort of seasonal affective symptoms. For me it’s not so much the cold but the general lack of light that has the greatest impact on my mood, motivation, and general feeling of wellness. I actually get seasonal anxiety especially in the Fall when I know that winter is impending and my sweet short Summer has come to an end.
A couple years back my hubby looked over at me at some point during the winter, and I imagine I had quite the haggard look going on -messy hair, pale skin, bags under my eyes, etc. He said (in the most loving way a man could say this to his wife) “you do a lot better in the Summer, hey?”. Yes, here in Alberta we say “hey” not “eh”.
I had to laugh at his bluntness, but it’s true, my winter self is quite the stark contrast from my summer self; freckled, tanned, sun-kissed blonde, and a smile from ear to ear as I take advantage of every minute of every sunshiny day. But I’ve learnt over the years, that unless I move away to a hot, tropical, year-round sunny and gorgeous climate (working on this dream!), I’ve got to learn to deal with, and maybe even find some things to love about, our long Canadian winter.
How do I do that? Well, I count my blessings as often as I can (gratitude is a huge mood booster), I put on the fireplace a lot and splurge on a couple of nice cozy winter sweaters to wear on-the-daily, I exercise, drink lots of water (and hot tea!), I make green smoothies, eat bright, colourful vegetables and make “Winter Salads” just like this one.
A salad might not seem intuitive in the winter, but if you take heartier ingredients, and those that are in-season, you can make one hella delicious and healthy salad. Using potatoes is a great way to keep the “comfort” in a winter salad as they are generally a comforting food, but they also hold a ton of great nutritional benefits including being rich in fibre, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 (which is actually a super vitamin for improving mood!). I used my favourite Little Potato Company potatoes, and decided to put their super simple and convenient oven potato packs to use – the Garlic Parsley flavour!
Along with the little potatoes in this salad, I added in dark leafy baby spinach (an amazing source of iron, magnesium, vitamin C and A), fennel (a great natural cleansing and anti-inflammatory vegetable), tomatoes, onion, and sushi-grade ahi tuna, one of my all-time favourite proteins.
I created a creamy, sweet and tangy balsamic dressing that worked wonderfully with the savoury ingredients of the salad, and I managed to sneak some more garlic in there, one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory and immune boosting foods.While I may not be able to snap my fingers and make the sun come out or the snow go away, I can almost as simple as “snap my fingers” and make this delicious salad to enjoy all winter long!
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1½ cups Little Potato Company Oven-Ready Garlic Parsley creamer potatoes, roasted (or regular creamer potatoes, roasted - see instructions)
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fennel
- 6 ounces sushi Grade ahi tuna
- pinch salt
- pinch pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Creamy Balsamic Dressing:
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coconut yogurt*
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- Begin by roasting the potatoes, if you are using the Little Potato Company Oven-Ready creamer potatoes, simply follow the package instructions. If not, pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and toss 1 1½ cups of small creamer potatoes in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of dried parsley, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
- Roast potatoes on a baking sheet in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until fork tender.
- Remove potatoes from oven and set aside to cool.
- Next, prepare the dressing by adding all of the dressing ingredients to a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth and emulsified (about 20-30 seconds), set aside.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add in the olive oil, season the tuna with the salt and pepper and once the pan is hot, add to the pan and sear for 1 minute on each side, then another 10 seconds on the edges.
- Remove from the pan and slice the tuna into strips.
- Lastly, assemble the salad. To a large serving bowl add the spinach, and layer on the tomatoes, fennel, red onion, roasted potatoes (cut in halves), the sliced seared tuna, and drizzle with the dressing.
- Toss with the dressing and divide the salad between two plates.
Nutritionist in the Kitch