Citrus Salad with Beet, Blackberries and Avocado (Raw Gluten Free Vegan)

Dinner tonight was inspired by a recipe that Annmarie Gianni prepared on the Renegade Health Show earlier this month.  I modified it to suit the ingredients I had on hand (some luscious blackberries and a ton of mixed greens) and also to meet my Father in Law’s dietary restriction; he can’t have grapefruit.  So unlike the Renegade recipe which features grapefruit, I went with citrus that my Father in Law can have… the amazing orange!  I tried the dressing per the Renegade recipe and while it has a super fresh zing that I loved... but I know that my kids prefer a creamy dressing.  So, I played around a bit and incorporated some avocado and a date to cut the tang of the lime juice vinagrette from the original.  I am SO pleased with the results and all 5 of us sharing dinner tonight enjoyed this salad.  I had a dinner portion and the guys had side salads with their meal. Let me know if you try this one.  The raw beets might surprise you with their sweetness.  So, so good.  Also, I can easily see the dressing as a dip for raw veggies of almost any variety.  It's a little tart and a little sweet, but the creamy factor is what makes it special. [caption id="attachment_320" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Citrus Salad with Blackberries, Beet and Avocado"]Citrus Salad with Blackberries, Beet and Avocado[/caption]   Citrus Salad with Beet, Blackberries and Avocado (makes 2 dinner salad portions or 4-6 side salads) Salad 1 ½ ripe avocados (you need 2 total for this recipe; the other half is used in the dressing) 3 organic oranges (you need 5 total for this recipe) 1 organic grapefruit (optional) 4 raw beets 1 pint organic blackberries 4 cups spinach 4 cups romaine 2 cups arugula
 6 fresh mint leaves 
 Dressing 2 organic oranges, peeled 1 medool date, pit removed 2 organic limes, juiced dash of sea salt a few grinds of pepper ½ avocado, pit removed 2 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil (optional) 
 To prepare the salad: Wash all of the greens and spin them dry in your salad spinner or lay them on a clean kitchen cloth for a few minutes to dry. Fold the mint leaves in half lengthwise and use your knife to make thin strips (julienne).  Alternatively, you can minced the leaves or tear them into very small pieces.  Just be sure not to leave big pieces of leaf because it can be a strong flavor! Zest your citrus fruits with a zester and reserve the peelings.  Next, remove the citrus peels and cut the fruit into bite size pieces.  How you do it is up to you.  I usually quarter the fruit and then slice each quarter into 4 pieces.  If you’re peeling the fruit by hand you can just add the segments… whatever works! Give the raw beets a quick wash under cool water to remove any sand or dirt.  Slice off the greens and then peel the beets.  This is a messy task that will stain your fingers (and anything else) reddish purple for a while.  Consider this your red badge of courage.  You’re trying a new salad and it is making you commit!  Once the beets are peeled you have a few options.  You can grate them using a hand grater (uber messy!) You can cut them into small pieces with your chef’s knife (also uber messy). Or you can employ your food processor and either grate, slice or chop finely depending on the nifty blade attachments that you have.  I chopped the beets into a fairly tiny shred using my food processor and we all loved them.  Do what works for you. Let’s deal with the avocados.  Slice each one in half lengthwise and twist to get the pit to release from one side.  To get the pit out you can either scoop it out gently with a spoon or, if you’re confident with your knife, you can tap the knife blade into the pit (it will stick in there) and twist the handle until the pit pops out.  You really need to be confident to do the knife tap, so please don’t try it if you’re nervous.  I don’t want you to get hurt!  I’m going to go with the notion that you’re able to get the pit out and all.  Time to score the avocado flesh in lines lengthwise and then again width wise so you end up with a grid pattern on each piece of avocado.  Take a soup spoon now and work it in between the skin and the flesh as you scoop out as much avocado as possible.  As you do this, the cute little pieces will pop right out!  Fun. [caption id="attachment_321" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Avocado Citrus Dressing"]Avocado Citrus Dressing[/caption] To prepare the dressing: Put everything into you blender and whiz until smooth.  It took me about 30 seconds of blending in the Vitamix to achieve a smooth and creamy texture. To assemble: Toss the mixed greens into a large bowl or lay them out on a platter.  Sprinkle with the minced or julienned mint.  Spoon some dressing over the greens.  Use the amount that makes you comfortable.  For my dinner portion, I used 1 Tbsp of dressing.  Next, top with shredded beets, orange pieces, grapefruit pieces and berries.  Serve!

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