BY HILLARY BENNETTS

Summertime is the perfect time for salads, and this one tastes like summer in a bowl! Sweet strawberries combine with creamy avocado and a bright dressing for a light and refreshing dish. It makes a great side or can be topped with some extra goodies to make it the main event. 

And, as a nutritionist, of course I have to comment on its nutritional punch, too! Leafy greens and strawberries are rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and avocado and chia seeds are loaded with micronutrients and healthy fats. 

Now, when it comes to salads, the greens, veggies, fruit, and other toppings often get all the attention, but a great dressing can make or break your beautiful bowl. Homemade dressings are easy to make and ensure that you’re not topping your greens with low-quality inflammatory oils and other additives and stabilizers. This honey lime chia dressing is the perfect example. It uses olive oil and fresh citrus juice as a base, thickened with chia seeds and sweetened just a bit with honey. 

Ingredients

For the salad

6 cups baby spinach or mixed greens 

1 cup strawberries, sliced

1 avocado, sliced or diced

½ red onion, thinly sliced

For the Dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon honey (local and raw preferred)

1/8 tsp. sea salt (to taste)

1/8 tsp. pepper (to taste)

Instructions

1. Add olive oil, lime juice, and chia seeds to a jar with a tight lid (a mason jar works well). Shake hard until the chia seeds are combined (not clumped together). Use a fork or whisk if needed.

2. Drizzle in the honey and shake again, whisking as needed to achieve a smooth consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. 

3. Wash and cut the strawberries, avocado, and onion. 

4. Toss the dressing first with the strawberries, avocado and onion, and then with the greens just before serving. This approach helps prevent browning of the fruit and helps to distribute the dressing throughout the greens. 

Notes

• Chia seeds love to absorb moisture, so this dressing will thicken and become a bit gelatinous the longer it stands. If made well in advance, store it in the refrigerator. Just allow it to warm up a bit and shake well again before serving. The dressing can also be tossed with the strawberries, avocado, and onion in advance – the flavors marinate nicely!

• The citrusy bite of this dressing pairs really well with the mellow avocado and sweet strawberries, but if you like things a little sweeter, feel free to add a bit more honey. I recommend tasting the dressing on some greens (rather than on its own) before adding more. 

• The dressing can also be made in a high speed blender, but be sure to slowly add the chia seeds and honey as the blender continues to run at a high speed. You will also need to double or triple the recipe to ensure enough liquid in the machine to reach the blade.

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