Best Ever Autumn Salad

 Ever had one of those weeks where it seems like it’s never going to end?  Like the closer you get to the weekend, the further it moves away?  I think that is my week this week.  Literally.

See, I just started a new job coordinating all of the group fitness classes for all of our area’s gyms.  Yeah, I coordinate stuff.   Cool, right?  So this ultimately means I now have a fairly consistent 5-day-a-week schedule, at least, compared to my previously sporadic personal training schedule.

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However, I still had this one last full weekend of culinary classes.  That, combined with my first week of supreme-coordinator-lady duties (I keep dreaming up grander titles for the job), plus the 4 days I worked between last Monday and Friday…

The weekend is, in fact, running away from me.

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As a result, perhaps you noticed, I haven’t been posting as much as I should be lately.  Luckily, I have still managed to get a bit of cooking in – which means everyone is still well-fed around here, and much to the satisfaction of the husband – and even got a few photographs here and there. 

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The real savior of my health and sanity during these manic times, though, is recipes like this one.  Stuff I can fling together on short notice, but still satisfies the body and soul, if you will.  This salad is so delicious it makes me drool a little over this post – sorry, I’ll try to keep it to a minimum – but it’s got this fabulous fall thang goin’ on that keeps me eating salads even into the cooler months.

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 Not a big salad fan in the fall?  Maybe you’ll fall for this one! Wow, sorry that just came out – didn’t mean to be punny… but I won’t take it back!

Have some mixed greens and these 6 ingredients at the ready, and you’ll be set for the week.

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Let’s start with the dressing:

Homemade Creamy Cider Dressing

½ c. light mayo (I liked the light safflower mayonnaise I bought – the ingredient list was very short and straightforward, and there were only 45 calories per tablespoon)

2 T. unsweetened natural applesauce

3 T. apple cider vinegar

¼ - ½ tsp. prepared horseradish (or just use store-bought wasabi)

True, each of these ingredients are most likely to be store-bought rather than homemade, so this is not exactly a hard-core homemade dressing.  However, it will be lighter than many of the creamy store-bought dressings, without the additives and preservatives they often contain, and you can adjust the ingredients to your own taste.

Just mix them all thoroughly together, taste-test, and adjust ingredients as needed.

Best Ever Autumn Salad

Makes four 3-cup servings

8 cups mixed greens

1 small sweet potato

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds (2 T. per serving)

¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries (3 T. per serving)

2 medium apples, thinly sliced (autumn variety) (½ medium apple per serving)

8 slices turkey bacon, cooked in a frying pan until browned and crisped (2 slices bacon per serving)

Homemade creamy cider dressing (2-3 T. per serving)

I like to prepare everything ahead of time to make the salad even faster for a blitz lunch on a hectic day.  Store everything in an easy to get to place, perhaps even portioned out in the refrigerator.  Leave the lettuce and salad dressing separate from the rest of the ingredients to keep things from getting mushy.

The simplest way to do the sweet potato is to wash it, poke a few holes through it with a fork or small knife, bake it in the microwave for a few minutes or until soft all the way through, and then slice it thinly (with skin on or off.)   Use up to a fourth of the sweet potato per salad.

Make a bed of lettuce in a bowl and top it with the ingredients for one salad plus the dressing.

Bam.

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