Butternut Squash Winter Salad

Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

Winter is not a time when people associate light, fresh salads—but this winter salad can serve as a reprieve from the heavier foods of the season and still be a filling meal to warm your home and stomach.

The roasted toppings add a layer of depth in flavor and texture that is always fun in salads, and both the squash and chickpeas have unique health properties. The butternut squash contains an abundance of carotenoids, a preventative measure for many forms of cancer, such as supporting eye, skin, and immune functioning. The chickpeas support gut health and are packed full of fiber, making them incredibly tasty and a digestive booster. The roasted squash and chickpeas complement the crisp greens, sweet apples, crunchy seeds, and tart cranberries. At the same time, the dressing ties all of the ingredients together to create a salad beautifully different with each bite, but always delectable.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp oil (avocado, coconut, or sunflower)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 glass jar of chickpeas, drained and dried
  • 1 tsp oil (avocado, coconut or sunflower)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 bunch of kale or collard greens
  • 2 apples or pears
  • 1/2 cup of dried or fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds or nut/seed of choice

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup of red or white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of whole-grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage or 1/2 tsp fresh sage

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or lightly oil the pans. 
  2. Toss the diced butternut squash with oil, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl. Place on one prepared sheet pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until tender and browned. 
  3. Toss the chickpeas with oil and curry powder in a bowl and roast for 10-15, shaking the pan halfway through to ensure they crisp up evenly. 
  4. While butternut squash and chickpeas roast, prepare the dressing by placing all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
  5. Remove the stem from the kale or collards greens and finely chop the leaves. Add the greens to a large bowl and top with 1/2 the dressing. Using a wooden spoon smash the dressing into the greens for 2-3 minutes. This will break down the tough cellular walls allowing the greens to soak up the dressing and will be easier to digest. 
  6. Slice the apples.
  7. Once the butternut squash and chickpeas are finished roasting remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Top the greens with all remaining ingredients, butternut squash, chickpeas, apples, cranberries, seeds/nuts, and remaining dressing. 
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:

Butternut Squash: Helps keep our eyes and skin healthy due to high amounts of carotenoids that have also been shown to help prevent the development of certain cancers. It is also packed full of fiber to help prevent constipation. It contains essential antioxidants to neutralize free radicals and boost your immune system.

Avocado Oil: Heart-healthy fat that has the ability to increase good cholesterol and reduce triglyceride levels in the body. Packed full of antioxidants to support eye health and anti-inflammatory properties shown to help reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Cinnamon: It has been shown to enhance motor function and normalize neurotransmitter levels. It can help improve insulin sensitivity and maintain stable blood sugar by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes that slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the GI tract.

Ginger: Shown to be heart-healthy and assists with blood sugar control by lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Ginger also improves various heart disease risk factors. Ginger supports gut health and is highly effective in promoting digestive health and chronic indigestion. Powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can ease joint pain and stiffness. It is also antimicrobial and can lower the risk of infections and boost immune system.

Chickpeas: Areas around the world that have been identified as places where humans live the longest (Blue Zones) are places where chickpeas are commonly found in the diet. These versatile and affordable beans contain folate, fiber, iron, phosphorus, and healthy fats. Their high amounts of soluble fiber and plant sterol support a healthy gut microbiome. Chickpeas increase feelings of satiety and have been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.

Curry Powder: This is a very broad term and can refer to any number of unique spice combinations. I gravitate towards the three main curry powders: garam masala, madras, and tandoori masala. Though each blend is different, there are many overlapping ingredients in most curry powder blends. Cumin, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, chili, turmeric, cardamom, fennel, fenugreek, and paprika are all common spices in curry powder. This combination of spices has been linked to lower inflammation, boost immunity and metabolism, and support gut health. It can even make you feel good from the capsaicin in the chilies that promotes the secretion of endorphins.

Leafy Greens: Researchers of the “Mind Diet” found that individuals who consume leafy greens regularly (1.3 servings per day) were the equivalent of 11 years younger than individuals that consumed leafy greens only on occasion. Greens such as kale, spinach, collards, mustard greens, arugula, and chard have been shown to protect bones from osteoporosis, prevent against inflammatory diseases, support a healthy gut, strengthen the immune system, and supply a high amount of antioxidants and fiber. They are among the best cancer-preventing foods.

Apples: Apples are high in nutrients and low in calories, making them nutrient-dense. Also packed full of fiber to feed the good gut bacteria, boost our immune system and help us feel fuller longer. Apples rank second to berries in the number of antioxidants adding a cancer-fighting component.

Cranberries: Good source of vitamin C, protective benefits against bacteria that cause urinary tract infections.

Pumpkin Seeds: Packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Have been linked to reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Excellent source of magnesium to help control blood pressure, protect heart health, maintain healthy bones, and balance blood sugar levels.

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