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Spicy Sweet Potato Vegan Caesar Kale Salad

Samantha Serpe

We've taken another classic and put a healthy, Sage and Celery twist on it. This time...the forever classic Caesar salad! This restaurant menu staple salad, know for its creamy dressing and garlicky croutons can wreak havoc on your healthy eating habits. When opting for a Caesar salad while you're out, you will consume over 700 calories, 50g of fat and more sodium than a bag of potato chips! Those are empty calories that will not provide your body with the nutrients it needs! But we aren't going to lie, there are times we crave the creamy, garlicky dressing and crunching croutons. That's why we came up with a healthy alternative that will satisfy your cravings and send your taste buds to heaven. And the best part? It's totally vegan and you would never be able to tell!

This salad is packed with so many goodies: spicy, roasted sweet potatoes, crunchy garlic chickpeas, kale (duh our favorite), and of course the vegan Caesar dressing! The dressing is super simple to make and you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry or fridge. The base is cashews and they are certainly responsible for giving this dressing its creamy texture. Cashews are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These include vitamins E, K, and B6, along with minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron, and selenium, all of which are important for maintaining good bodily function. The lengthy list of benefits may be surprising to you, including; heart healthy prevents blood disease, protects eyes, aids in weight loss, and good for you hair and skin.

The key to making the dressing is to soak the cashews you're using in water for at least 3 hours. We like to place them in water before we head out for the day so by the time we get home they are ready to go. The amount of each ingredient in the dressing can be altered to your preference. So if you like it tangy add more lemon, if you want it a little spicier add more pepper, if you want a little more flavor add more dijon mustard!

Instead of using croutons and adding empty calories to the salad we opted for oven roasted, garlic chickpeas. These will give you the crunch you desire as well as that little oomph of garlic while giving your body some more key nutrients. Chickpeas are a good source of protein, fiber, manganese, and folate. They can help with digestion, protect your skin and cells from free radicals, aid in weight loss, boost you immune system, and help lower cholesterol. 

Let's not for get about the spicy, roasted sweet potato! We think that it makes this salad complete. The spiciness paired with the cool, creamy dressing is a match made in heaven! They will fill you up as well as provide your body with beneficial nutrients like vitamin C. You will definitely thank us later for this one!

This is a complete meal for our vegans as it provides a complete source of protein by combining the chickpeas, cashews and sweet potato. But if you are not a vegan you can definitely add grilled chicken or shrimp for extra protein and flavor. 

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

For the salad:

6 cups of chopped kale

1 Large sweet potato, cubed

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried

2 tsp. garlic powder

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

Sea salt

For the dressing:

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked

1/2 cup almond milk

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. Dijon mustard 

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

Sea Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with tin foil.

2.) Place cubed sweet potato in a bowl, drizzle with 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil and add cumin, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Toss until the sweet potato is completely coated. Evenly spread the sweet potato on one of the foil lined baking sheets and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing half way through to make sure they are even roasted.

3.) Place dried chickpeas in a small bowl, drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and add garlic powder. Toss until they are all even coated. Even spread the chickpeas on the second foil lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 20 - 25, tossing half way through. Keep an eye on them towards the end to make sure they don't burn.

4.) While the sweet potato and chickpeas are cooking start to make the dressing. In a blender or a NutriBullet add the soaked cashews (drained from water), lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, nutritional yeast, almond milk, salt and pepper. Blend until creamy. This is where you can make any alterations to the dressing if you'd like, so give it a taste and adjust accordingly. 

5.) Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Add kale and give it a quick sauté. Cook it until it slightly breaks down, but does not cook down completely. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl.

6.) Add the roasted sweet potato to the kale and drizzle the dressing on top. Toss salad and top with the crispy, garlic croutons. Serve and enjoy!