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Crunchy Apple Celery Sunflower Salad

I've been eating raw this week after a bout of stomach unpleasantry on Monday night and this is the first real meal I've had outside of apples and bananas!  Super quick, crunchy and tasty.  My boys each ate a big bowl and gave all thumbs up!  The fennel bulb is something I bought last weekend and planned to use early in the week... but that plan got foiled by the sickness.  The bulb was very mildly flavored and likely would have been better if I used it closer to purchase, but it was still softly anise scented and very crisp and crunchy.  If you prefer more anise flavor, use more and if anise isn't for you just leave it out. Vary the nut choice, use orange juice instead of lemon, try thyme or oregano or parsley instead of the mint and lemon balm.  Sliced or shredded carrot would also be lovely in this salad.  Use what you have or try something new.  Enjoy! Crunchy Apple Celery Sunflower Salad [caption id="attachment_367" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Crunchy Apple Celery Sunflower Salad"]Crunchy Apple Celery Sunflower Salad[/caption] (Serves 4 as a main salad – 6-8 as an appetizer) This recipe can be doubled or tripled if you’re feeding a crowd.  It will keep in the refrigerator for several days before the veggies lose their crunch.  If you are going to be storing this salad, hold out the nuts and seeds until just before serving.  Choose a green apple variety if you want something particularly tangy, otherwise, go for something sweet and red like a Gala apple for a beautiful pop of color. Dressing fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon, approximately 1/3 cup splash of mirin 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup fresh ground pepper to taste Salad 8 celery stalks with greens, approximately 1 celery heart 3 apples, your choice of variety 1 cup raw fennel/anise, approximately ½ of a bulb 1 cup cucumber, approximately a 5 inch cucumber 1 cup raw cashews 1 cup raw sunflower seeds 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or lemon balm Kale ~ how much you use is up to you and your level of green eating; see note at the end of the recipe.  Let’s start by whisking the dressing ingredients in small bowl until they are combined.  Dip the tip of a clean spoon and either lick it or swipe it with your finger to get a taste.  Adjust your seasoning with pepper or whatever suits your tastes.  Set aside. Moving on, we’re going to tackle the veg and fruit.  Keep the celery heart together and trim the bottom off.  Slice thin pieces from the stalks straight across or on the diagonal.  Put the celery slices in a bowl and cover with cool water.  Swish the pieces around to loosen and remove any debris, then strain and set aside. Slice the apples into quarters.  Thinly slice each quarter so you end up with bite size apple slices. Slice the raw fennel into pieces similar in size to the apple pieces. Slice the cucumber into quarters and slice it too as you’ve done the apple. Tip the apple slices into a large bowl and add the dressing. Toss to combine.  The acid in the vinaigrette will keep the apple from browning, so be sure to coat the pieces.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine all the sliced veg.  If you are serving this within an hour or so, you can add the nuts and seeds.  Otherwise, if you want the nuts and seeds to retain their bite, hold them out until you are ready to serve and then throw them in and give everything a toss. The kale is something that you can use as a bed of greens for your salad.  You can also use large leaves of kales as wrappers to hold a scoop of salad and then roll it up like a burrito to eat.  Alternatively, you can chop or tear the leaves and add them into your salad in whatever amount you and yours enjoy.  This is a great way to introduce kale in a palatable salad in one of many ways… find something that works for you and get more kale into your gut!  Kale does a body good!

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