Spinach Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Dried Cranberries and Red OnionMagnesium was the one thing holding me back from coming home. After a transplant from an unrelated donor match, you must start taking an anti-rejection drug. This drug makes patients (especially women) spill magnesium. In a young person whose kidneys are working well and doing a good job of flushing, magnesium stays in your sysytem for even shorter amounts of time, sometimes just 2-3 hours for a 3-hour infusion. I believe it is imperative to supplement your daily/weekly IV magnesium infusions and daily magnesium pill intake with foods high in magnesium. Food is much kinder to your stomach than pills, and you can absorb the magnesium more completely by eating it. I truly believe that after I started eating this way, my magnesium went up (I have proof in lab reports!) and it has been stable and easy to maintain ever since these delicious foods have been incorporated into my daily diet.
This salad is so delicious and helped me to cut back from 11 (500-mg) pills to 9 (500-mg) pills. This allowed my stomach to rest and heal as it was receiving magnesium from the source itself. Because you are still very susceptible to infection, it is important that you take certain precautions. I buy the “triple washed” packaged greens – nothing from the communal bin! – and then triple wash them again with cold water when I get home. The enemy here is not the leaf – it’s the dirt. Dirt and soil carry many bacteria, a few of which could be potentially fatal if a broad-range antibiotic for that particular form of bacteria is not available.
Now let’s get to cooking and get you out of that hospital bed!
4 cups freshly washed baby spinach, kale, or other dark leafy green, spun and dry
¼ cup (or more!) pumpkin or sunflower seeds
¼ dried cranberries, chopped (not from a communal bin, but pre-packaged and safe)
1 small red onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Champagne or White Wine Vinegar
Fig Balsamic Vinegar (or other fruity vinegar if you’re in the mood)
Salt and Pepper
In a skillet, toast the seeds in a pan until golden. Take off the heat and pour onto a plate or glass bowl – not in plastic – they are too hot and will melt the container!
Slice a red onion very thinly.
Chop up some dried cranberries.
Combine all of the ingredients below and then whisk together in another bowl:
1-2 parts champagne vinegar plus a little drizzle of fruity balsamic (this cuts the acidity and mellows the flavor of the vinaigrette)
3 parts extra virgin olive oil
Generous amounts of salt
Black pepper to taste
*Please ask your doctor before consuming any kind of raw vegetable or fruit. Opinions vary across the board and each doctor will have his/her own opinion. This salad can be made into sautéed greens just as easily. Start with the onions with a little extra virgin olive oil in the pan. Pour in all ingredients and cook until lettuce is wilted and onions are translucent and a little bit caramelized.
Toss the dressing into the salad and enjoy!