One of my favorite things about healthy eating is the creativity involved. Just because you make the decision to eat healthy doesn’t mean you give up the flavors you love, it means you find news ways to savor them. It is merely a jumping off point into a world rich in creativity and imagination – an open door to transforming the elements which make up the foods you love most. This is what I adore about cooking, and about healthy eating. It is the opportunity to create food that nourishes while paying homage to the memories of the dishes that feed your soul. There are endless creations to be made and no end to how the satisfy all the senses.
This Avocado Reuben Salad was born from the memory of my mother. Her favorite food is the Reuben sandwich. The layering of the crispy rye bread with the salty corned beef, tangy and sour sauerkraut and the sweet and savory Thousand Island dressing. Each part comes together to make the perfect whole. But what happens when you break apart the components and recompose them? When you honor the flavors and textures, but change the ingredients to be more nourishing and more nutrient-dense? These were the questions that led me to this creation of the avocado reuben salad.
When you eat this probiotic-rich avocado reuben salad its parts will fill you with the flavors, sensations and memories of eating a Reuben sandwich, but it is far healthier. That is the genius of it. A part from it being rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and proteins, it is a salad designed to improve digestion, immunity and the mood. And how does it do this? Probiotics.
Probiotics (means pro-life) are foods that promote healthy bacteria in our gut. These bacteria create the microbiome that is now known by science to play a vital role in our health. First and foremost, they are essential for good digestion. They help make vitamins, and process and absorb nutrients from the food we eat. They help ease indigestion, gassiness, pain and bloating. In addition, they fight off bad bacteria and fungus in the gut, protecting us from food poisoning, diarrhea, and other illnesses derived from pathogenic entities. Science has also discovered that probiotics are an integral part of our immune system helping to prevent illness. Finally, probiotics influence our mood as well. When the gut is full of healthy bacteria (probiotics) are mood is happy, stable, calm and optimistic. For these reasons, incorporating foods that promote a healthy probiotic community in our gut is essential for our well-being. Probiotic-rich foods are fermented foods, which include tempeh and sauerkraut, two of the key foods found in this probiotic rich avocado reuben salad. You can even consider making your own sauerkraut at home, following Elenore’s recipe here on Earthsprout.
Avocado Reuben Salad
Meat-free, dairy-free, vegan (option: gluten-free)
Makes 2 bowls
For the rye croutons
2 slices rye bread (gluten-free if needed), cubed
1 tbs. grapeseed oil
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder
For the grainy mustard potatoes
.5 lbs fingerling potatoes, washed
1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
¼ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1-1.5 tbsp. grainy mustard
For the almond thousand island dressing
1 c. almonds, raw (soaked for 1+ hours)
1/8 c. olive oil
2.5 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. nutritional yeast
.5 tsp. sea salt
.5 tsp. garlic powder
3 tbs. ketchup (high fructose corn syrup-free)
+ extra water
For the salad
2 c arugula
.5 c grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, sliced
2 tbs. sauerkraut (caraway flavor is best)
6 pieces tempeh “bacon,” organic (Light Life is a brand that makes it)
For the rye croutons
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Take cubed bread and place in mixing bowl.
Add oil, salt and garlic powder.
Place crouton cubes on baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes until crispy, but not burned.
Once baked, remove from oven and set aside.
For grainy mustard potatoes
Slice potatoes into 1 cm circles
Place in mixing bowl and toss with oil and salt.
Place on a baking sheet and place in oven at 400 degrees.
Bake for 15 minutes until roasted.
Once roasted place back into mixing bowl.
Mix with 1 tsp. of caraway seeds and 1-1.5 tbsp. of grainy mustard (depending on taste).
For the thousand island dressing
Add soaked almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and salt to a high-speed blender or Cuisinart. Blend on high until smooth. If too thick add water until a smooth mayonnaise-like consistency.
Once smooth add in ketchup and garlic powder. Blend again until smooth, set aside.
For the tempeh bacon
Place on a sauté pan over medium heat.
Heat until slightly crispy, flip over.
Cook until both sides are crispy.
Allow it to cool slightly and crumble. Set aside.
Compose the Avocado Reuben Salad Bowls
On two large plates or bowls, divide ingredients in two, and add each ingredient to the bowl/plate: sliced tomatoes, arugula, avocado, sauerkraut, croutons, tempeh, potatoes and a dollop of thousand island dressing.