Late Fall Salad

Late Fall Salad

I spent the last week experimenting a bit with what I ate. Driven by curiosity, I spent a week eating all of the traditional breads and grains. Months ago, I had wanted to see how my body reacted to eating wheat bread because, having chosen a more "paleo" diet out of lifestyle choice rather than because of any allergic reaction, I didn't really know what my body would do with it. 

So, I made fresh focaccia and smothered it with avocado, just to see what would happen. A headache ensued, and I figured the two were related. Still, results didn't seem conclusive, since a few weeks later when I tried again, seeking some sort of pattern in reaction, I got no headache at all. Which of course begged the question: was it the bread that caused the headache in the first place? 

I had to know. This last week I wrote down everything I ate, adding in some bread here and there. To be honest, I'm in such a habit of not eating grains that I had to make a real effort to buy bread rolls. I wrote down exactly how I felt afterwards, and tried to just generally listen to my body.

Have any of you done this before? A week-long experiment to see how you feel? It was harder than I thought it would be: Hard to change the way I eat, for one, but also hard to feel sure of yourself as you write anything down. I found myself doubting what I was feeling and what I wasn't. 

Late Fall Salad

Honestly the swirls of doubt muddied my conclusions. My journal would go like this: 

  • 1 piece of bakery bread toasted with goat cheese, steamed asparagus. Reaction: sharp headache. But I also think I drank too much coffee. 
  • 8 crackers, Cauliflower Parsnip Soup, Grass-Fed Sausage. Reaction: none. I did only eat 5 crackers though. 
  • Ciabatta roll with goat cheese, tomatoes with basil, balsamic reduction. An apple and a square of chocolate. Reaction: Pounding headache and brain fog. Am I just stressed?
  • And on. Every bullet clouded with a line of doubt. 
Late Fall Salad

How is anyone supposed to draw any conclusions when they are filled with this much conflicting information! So instead I am going to focus on what I know: 

  1. Eating a couple of crackers here and there (or, ehem, crust on pumpkin pie) will likely not make me feel horrible
  2. Eating a full piece of bread for breakfast might give me a headache, shorten my patience, and just generally cause inflammation. But since I'm not positive, I should continue listening to my body and feeling out what works and what doesn't. 
  3. My body knows best. I should listen to my body and try not to doubt it. I should also be open to what it's telling me, and maybe do something about all of that stress I noted, because that can't be good. 
  4. Sometimes you just need a big old bowl of veggies. And when that's what you need, you should make this salad. 
Late Fall Salad

Late Fall Salad

Primal, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free    |       |    Print This Recipe

So many of fall’s favorite flavors in one bowl!

Serves: 6   |    Total Time:


  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale
  • 10 ounces arugula
  • Perils of 1 pomegranate
  • 1/4 pound brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Balsamic vinaigrette


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the cubed butternut squash in the avocado oil and spread out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until squash is tender through and crispy on the edges. Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
  2. Remove stems from the kale and chop into bite-sized pieces. Place in the bottom of your salad bowl, and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, rug the oil into the kale to begin to soften the leaves.
  3. Add the arugula to the bowl and toss with the kale. Top mix of greens with crumbles of goat cheese, pomegranate perils, pepitas, and cooked butternut squash.
  4. Slice brussels sprouts into think slices, as if to shred them. Add to the salad.
  5. When ready to eat, drizzle salad with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette and toss.


Winter Salad with Kale, Squash, Apples, & Fennel

Merry Christmas Eve! Happy Holidays! Happy whenever you find yourself doing today! For me, it's "Happy Another-Excuse-To-Plan-A-Menu Day"! 

If you are looking to build a holiday menu that everyone can enjoy, regardless of dietary preferences, you know my struggle well: what is paleo, vegan, and still filling? Salad is the easy answer. But it's so hard to make salad feel "right" in the middle of winter. Tomatoes? Hard and flavorless. Cucumbers? Chilling. Butterhead lettuce, arugula, even baby spinach--just plain out of place. It's easier to pass by with gratins, mashes, and roasts. And don't get me wrong--I love anything au gratin (especially this cauliflower gruyere gratin!) - but sometimes it's nice to have a light dish on your holiday table, to balance out all of the traditional winter fare.

That very question brought me to this salad. (Now, before you say, "Salad is NOT filling," hear me out). This salad, with massaged dino kale, is stuffed with wintery goods that will fill you up: roasted delicata squash, toasted pepitas, and fennel, and crispy apples. Avocado for good measure — because what salad isn’t better with avocado? It has crunch, a touch of sweetness, and a savory kick. And it fits right in on a crowded table of wintertime foods. And if you're still not content, I recommend adding some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette, this salad breaks away from the heavy dishes we all know so well, with out feeling out of place. It's a piece of fresh in the midst of winter--often a much needed twist. Since this salad is made with hearty vegetables, it can be made several hours ahead of time, making your holiday meal less stressful! Just wait until the last minute to add the dressing. 

What new dish will you be trying this holiday season? How do you make sure everyone is jolly when they take their seat at the holiday table? 

P.S., that delicate looking garnish is a fennel frond — the top "leafy bit of the fennel bulb. Save a tiny bit when you’re chopping up the fennel, and put it on top for good looks. 😎

Winter Salad with Kale, Squash, Apples & Fennel

Winter Salad with Kale, Squash, Apples, & Fennel

Published December 24, 2014 by
   Print This Recipe

Serves: 8   |    Active Time: 35 minutes


  • 1 delicata squash, seeds removed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 6 cups kale, chopped into bit-sized pieces
  • Dash salt
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup fennel, sliced thin
  • 1 apple, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 avocado, sliced or cubed
  • Balsamic vinaigrette  

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Toss the sliced squash in the avocado oil. Spread it out on a cookie sheet, and place in oven. Bake until golden, soft all the way through, and browning on edges. Remove from oven and set aside. 
    2. Assemble salad: Place the chopped kale in a salad bowl, along with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt. Using your hands, rub the olive oil into the leaves until they are bright green. This softens them a bit, making them nicer to eat and easier to digest.
    3. Add the fennel and apple to the salad bowl. Top with roasted squash, avocado, and pepitas. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette to taste. Optional: garnish with fennel fronds.