Spinach and Kale Power Salad with Avocado Dressing

May 13, 2015
Spinach and Kale Power Salad with Avocado Dressing - A spinach and kale salad with an avocado dressing that's a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition

“Home is the nicest word there is”   ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

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The past few months, I've been watching and listening from afar.  Two people, I love dearly, in the process of moving from their house on a quiet tree-lined street to a condo in the heart of downtown.  As with everything in life, although your spirit knows it's time to move on, the act of making it happen can prove to be something entirely different.

Intellectually you think you're ready, you can list all of the reasons the move will be good, and you've steeled yourself for the inevitable upheaval your life is about to take.  Although there still comes, a time when you realize saying good-bye is going to be

much harder than you were prepared for

Somehow the feelings sneak up on you, before you ever see them coming, hitting you square in the gut

I listened to his words on the other end of the line, in just a few short days a new family would start collecting mail in the box at the end of the drive.

Their first house.  The house that saw them through marriage, holidays, new careers, birthday cakes, and nieces and nephews that had come to visit and play.  Not to mention, how many date-nights-in watching movies after dinner with a glass of wine?

The house they'd gutted and remodeled (together), room by room, touching every surface, picking every fixture and leaving their mark, along with so many memories.  Every year, when my parents went to visit, there was always project waiting.  Not because of the project itself, but because it was something to do


Spinach and Kale Power Salad with Avocado Dressing - A spinach and kale salad with an avocado dressing that's a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition

Our conversation has floated in and out of my mind ever since, not just because I love them, but because some memories hit very close to home.

Eight years have passed since I stood in their shoes, and had to move on from a house I dearly loved.  A house we'd general contracted, an 18 month-long project, we did most of the work ourselves .. I'd touched every board (even at the peak .. three stories up!)

“Promise me; you'll give yourself permission to say good-bye?”

The house was empty and quiet as my key turned the lock on the front door.  In my bag some music and Subway sandwich, along with a blanket.  Perfect for a midnight picnic for one in front of the fireplace.  In less than ten hours, I'd sign my house over to someone else.

I took pictures of the drawings we'd made on the studs in the basement, as we'd talked through ideas over the many months, and took my time walking from room to room, remembering.  I took a bath in my favorite bathtub, sat on the front deck one last time looking up at the stars, turned on the fireplace and laid in front of it on the floor, all night long.

As the sun started to peek above the horizon, I packed up my things and said an official


Spinach and Kale Power Salad with Avocado Dressing - A spinach and kale salad with an avocado dressing that's a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition

One of those bittersweet forks in the road, where embracing a new season of life, can only mean leaving a part of one behind. Along with a mark, forever etched into my soul.  I've never thought of home the same way since

 “How does your life move forward, when all you want to do is hold still?”  For years, words pinned to a friend's bulletin board. Somewhere along the way, I began to wonder if they made better sense

“How does your life hold still, when all you want to do is move forward?”

Admittedly, there was a season when I thought home meant a shiny sub-zero refrigerator and a red washing machine.  I wanted a fat leather sofa warmed by sunshine from a southern-facing window.  I wanted to pick inviting paint colors, and have a huge whirlpool tub that I could soak in every night.

I wanted reading lamps everywhere, so many that I'd be slightly annoyed at night when I started the ritual of turning them all off

I wanted quilts on the bed, and built-ins to tuck them away in during the summer.  I wanted a big willow tree (or three) and an herb garden that would produce enough of a harvest to season friends' pesto and soups.

I wanted neighbors who made pesto and soups and liked to share.

Spinach Salad 10-650x

Photo Credit: Optimist.net

I wanted to be surrounded by memories of staining cedar siding on crisp fall days, fishing miles of electrical wire through the studs or laying hardwood flooring.  I wanted my kids to grow up showering in the bathrooms we'd tiled by hand and rooms designed with them in mind.

I wanted to spend the days writing and working in my home office on the wrap-around desk my father had built.

I wanted to go for long walks in the evenings, and when I came back, catch sight of the house with a million and two little lamps lighting it up, and smile from my heart when I thought

“I'm home.”

Since that time I've lived in other houses, an apartment, different areas of town, by myself, with my kids, and now with my husband, four cats, and two dogs. If there's anything I've learned through the process, it's that everyone has a filter through which we define


Spinach and Kale Power Salad with Avocado Dressing - A spinach and kale salad with an avocado dressing that's a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition

Certainly, it can be about the shiny stainless fridge and abundant herb garden.  Though for me, it's now come to mean the people and creatures with whom I share my space.  Not only my sweet husband but the beautiful village of people who surround and care for us as well

As with all of life's lessons, I've learned every one of them backward.  If I could tell my twenty-four self what her forty-four self knows now

home = people who are good, are good for you and good to you

Find them, start there.  The shiny fridge, the herb garden, and the million and two little lamps, maybe even a puppy that loves to chase the UPS truck?  They'll all follow

I promise

In honor of seeing things differently, it seems fitting to post a favorite salad recipe from the week.  This one a riff from a spinach salad from a new cookbook published by The American Macular Degeneration Foundation.  It's recipes focus on foods providing nutrients that are beneficial for eyesight

I couldn't help but smile as I leafed through, flagging recipes as I went.  My nutritionist will be proud.  All of the dishes full of color and easy to prepare

A few fun tips to share about this incredibly nutritious salad

For an all-around power food when it comes to beautiful skin, reach for spinach.  It's rich in beta-carotene, which converts to the powerful anti-aging vitamin A.

Among other benefits, out of all of the dietary plants and nuts, walnuts contain the highest amount of antioxidants, which is great for combating heart disease as they'll fight free radicals

Goji berries are bright orange-red berries that come from a shrub native to China.  In Asia, goji berries have been eaten for generations, with the hope of living longer

Oranges contain vitamin C, which will help your body absorb the iron in the spinach



ps:  Feel free to add your favorite protein as well, either mixed into the salad or on the side as part of the meal

Sources:  World's Healthiest Foods and The Food and Nutrition Information Center

— — —

~ Avocado Dressing adapted from Food Coach NYC

Spinach and Kale Power Salad with Avocado Dressing


  • Salad
  • 6 cups baby spinach, washed thoroughly and rough-chopped
  • 1 handful kale, chopped
  • ¾ cup walnuts, rough chopped
  • ½ cup dried goji berries
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 2 - 3 navel oranges,

  • Avocado Dressing
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp natural sugar
  • ¾ tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • ¼ cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil


  • Salad
  • Wash the greens and add to individual serving bowls.
  • Top with all other ingredients, divided evenly among the bowls
  • Serve with the dressing on the side

  • Avocado Dressing
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  • Pour dressing into individual glass bottles and serve with salad
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