Boost nutrition and flavor with creative food combining

Several nutrition experts agree that combining certain ingredients makes not only for more delicious recipes, but also boosts the nutritional value of certain foods. The principles of food combining can be a little confusing, and I like to keep things simple, so I won’t get too deep into the details.

It’s suggested that combining proteins and starches should be avoided, and that fruits should be eaten on their own, particularly melons, due to the fast rate of digestion.¬†Essentially, researchers are confirming what many nutritionists have believed for years, combining the right types of foods can enhance digestion, but also increase the absorption of nutrients and antioxidants.

Two of the combinations I’ve been enjoying all summer are lemon and arugula. Lemon and dark, leafy greens are an excellent source of vitamins A & C and minerals such as iron. It’s suggested that the lemon juice changes the iron in the spinach or arugula and causes it to be more easily absorbed. If you prefer not to use arugula, a dark, peppery green, you can substitute spinach. I developed this recipe based on a salad I tried while dining out to celebrate my birthday. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors and set out to make the salad at home.

This salad can be enjoyed as a light side, but I often eat it for lunch or dinner. For a more substantial meal, I add more arugula and other seasonal vegetables for fiber and flavor. Some of my favorite additions are grilled summer squash, fresh garden tomatoes, and crunchy baby cucumbers. I also like to add a protein like grilled shrimp or chicken. Tonight, I opened a can of tuna, packed in water and topped it all of with freshly cracked black pepper and a small amount of Parmesan Reggiano.

To make the dressing in a flash, I use a clean pickle or jam jar. I combine all of the ingredients in the jar, screw the lid on, and shake vigorously.

Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

*dressing recipe will last for 4 – 5 days in the refrigerator

Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
1 Tb. Champagne vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. sugar or stevia
1/2 tsp. salt
as needed, freshly cracked black pepper


Mix all of the ingredients together and whisk or shake vigorously to combine. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Arugula Salad

1 box arugula
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or pistachios
shaved Parmesan Reggiano (garnish)
Lemon Vinaigrette, drizzle as needed
Additional vegetables like grilled asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli rabe, summer sqaush, etc.

What is your favorite summer food combination?

Photo credit: Lindsey Johnson {Cafe Johnsonia}

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