This spinach mandarin salad is a simple spring salad with a blast of freshness. Dressed in a tasty citrus dressing, this superfood spinach salad with mandarin oranges is an entree salad or a side salad that goes with everything!
My favorite way to welcome spring is to visit the farmer's market and shop for local produce. So, today's spring salad is a superfood spinach salad with mandarin oranges, a plethora of farmers' market veggies, mandarin oranges, white beans, and tofu feta dressed in a refreshing citrus dressing. I plan to eat this spinach mandarin salad all week long.
What is Nutrient-Density?
What does nutrient dense mean? Food that is high in nutrients but relatively low in calories. Nutrient-dense foods contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Whenever I make a superfood salad, I include many fruits, vegetables, and beans from Dr. Fuhrman's Nutrient-Dense Andi Chart.
For example, the ANDI ranks the nutrient value of many common foods based on how many nutrients they deliver to your body for each calorie consumed.
Unlike food labels which list only a few nutrients, ANDI scores are based on thirty-four important nutritional parameters.
Foods are ranked on a scale of 1-1000, with the most nutrient-dense cruciferous leafy green vegetables scoring 1000.
Spinach Mandarin Salad Ingredients
- Baby Spinach (707): Spinach has a high antioxidant value. It contains antioxidants like lutein, beta-carotene, coumaric acid, and ferulic acid. These antioxidants help prevent chronic illnesses and oxidative damage to the DNA. Lutein and zeaxanthin- two antioxidants loaded in Spinach juice known to protect the health of your eyes
- Mandarin Oranges (105): Mandarin oranges are also an excellent source of vitamin C, another key nutrient for immune system function, and maintaining healthy skin and healing wounds. The body better absorbs vitamin C in food than the mega-dose of vitamin C you would get from a supplement.
- White Beans (64): White beans are a nutritional powerhouse packed with fiber and protein and a good source of numerous micronutrients, including folate, magnesium, and vitamin B6. A 1-cup (170-gram) serving of cooked white beans provides Calories: 242—protein: 17 grams.
- Beets (97): A superfood is a nutrient-rich food with an above-average amount of vitamins and minerals per gram. Beetroot fits into that category.
- Tofu Feta (37): Tofu derived from soy is considered a superfood has many of the nutrients our body demands and is effective in preventing heart problems. In an era in which leading a healthy life is becoming increasingly important, what is known as 'superfoods' play a fundamental role.
- Grape Tomatoes(164): Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Besides Vitamin C's ability to help our immune system function efficiently, it also helps develop strong bones, healthy skin, and healthy gums! Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin A.
- Cucumber(50): Cucumbers are packed with them. You'll get 14% to 19% of the vitamin K you need for the day in just a single cup of cucumber slices. You'll also get vitamins B and C along with minerals like copper, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.
- Red Onion (50): Red onions are a great source of antioxidants, which boost immunity. They contain vitamins A and C and quercetin and sulfur compounds. These nutrients work together to improve the body's ability to fight off infections.
Spinach Mandarin Salad Ingredient Substitutions
- Choose any greens. Kale is an excellent substitute for spinach and is high on teh nutrient-dense scale (1000).
- If you can't find fresh mandarin oranges, try clementines or any oranges, or buy mandarin oranges in a can in natural juice, not syrup.
- Substitute chickpeas or any type of beans for white beans.
- Chickpea tofu is the newest craze and its soy-free. Or skip the tofu.
- Cherry tomatoes are similar to grape tomatoes in flavor and size.
- Persian cucumbers are similar to English cucumbers as they contain fewer seeds and are less watery than regular cucumbers.
- Green onions or spring onions work well with this spinach salad recipe.
How to Make Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges
Other than chopping a few vegetables, this salad is easy to prepare! As a time saver, I bought fresh beets cooked and peeled at Trader Joe's.
However, feel free to roast the beets and add the beet greens for more nutritional bang for your buck!
One of my favorite kitchen hacks is to slice beets, mushrooms, or anything, with an old egg slicer from my days before going plant-based.
Begin with baby spinach as a base on a large platter. Then, evenly distribute the vegetables and mandarin oranges on top of the spinach base. Serve with or without the tofu feta cheese.
Citrus Salad Dressing Ingredients
- Oranges: I used fresh squeezed Valencia oranges. I prefer freshly squeezed juice over bottled juice.
- Lemon: I prefer freshly squeezed lemons.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar adds a tanginess and works with the acid in citrus fruits.
- Water: The water thins and emulsifies the dressing in place of oil.
- Whole-grain mustard: The flavor of whole-grain mustard is very close to Dijon mustard. The major difference is in texture, as the mustard seeds have not been crushed and are whole, resulting in a coarse mustard paste
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup is a natural sweetener. When added to the citrus salad dressing, it adds the perfect sweetness.
Citrus Salad Dressing Ingredient Substitutions
- Use bottled orange and lemon juice instead of fresh squeezed orange juice.
- White wine vinegar is an excellent substitute for apple cider vinegar.
- Yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, tarragon mustard, and brown mustard seeds are excellent replacements for whole-grain mustard.
- Date syrup or agave substitute maple syrup in recipes.
Spinach also contains several other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6, B9, and E. Spinach is an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable. It packs high amounts of carotenoids, vitamins C, and K, folic acid, iron, and calcium.
Consuming a bowl of spinach every day would help you meet the daily requirements,” the expert says, adding that antioxidants in vitamin C promote “skin healing and prevent premature ageing”. Vitamin A ensures stronger immunity, and its anti-inflammatory action can reduce the inflammation and promote eye health.
A food (such as broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person's health.
- Buy organic spinach. Spinach has spongy, porous leaves that, unfortunately, are excellent at soaking up pesticides. The EWG found that 97 percent of conventional spinach samples contained some.
- Don't dress the salad until you plan to eat it. Unlike greens like kale, spinach is softer, and the salad will get soggy if dressed ahead of time.
- Be sure to drain and rinse the beans. The bean aquafaba is sticky and can cause the salad to wilt if the beans are not properly rinsed.
- If using canned mandarin oranges, choose natural juices instead of syrup. Also, drain the oranges, and lay them on paper towels to remove excess liquid before adding them to the salad.
- For additional flavor, try pickled red onions instead of raw red onions.
Welcome spring with this spinach salad with mandarin oranges. Try it as an entree or a side salad that goes perfectly with any entree.
Amazing Vegan Salad Recipes
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Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges
- 12 ounces Baby spinach or 8 ½ cups
- 1 red onion cut into thin slices
- 3 mandarin oranges Peeled, separated into segments, and cut in half. Or 1 10-ounce can of mandarin oranges, drained.
- 1 English cucumber cut into slices and cut in halves
- 1 pint Grape tomatoes cut in half
- ½ cup tofu feta cheese optional
- 1 15 ounce can Northern beans Drained and rinsed
- 5 Red beets sliced thin
- ½ cup Citrus Dressing
- Place spinach on a platter.
- Add the other salad ingredients.
- Add tofu feta to the top (if using)
- Whisk ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Do not dress the salad until ready to serve.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂
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