2/13/13

Low Carb, Sugar Free and So Good! Spinach, Feta and 'Sugared' (not) Almond Salad with Balsamic Dressing


Spinach Salad with 'not' sugared almonds, feta cheese and Balsamic dressing... Mmmm

For lunch a couple days ago, I was craving a cold, crisp, spinach salad.  I made it an extra large salad, thinking I'd serve it as a side dish option at dinner that evening as well.  It didn't make it that long.  It was so good I ate the whole salad!

It was quick and easy to throw together as I had a few items already hand to work with.  I had a bottle of  Maple Grove Farms Sugar Free Balsamic Vinaigrette I had found at my local grocery store (but I know you can get it on Amazon and from the Netrition site).  I also had bought a 3 pack of Ideal Brown No Calorie Sweetener about 2 months ago, before we started this round of 'sugar free' and low carb detoxing. ***UPDATED to add - Ideal stopped carrying the brown sugar version and currently the best substitute I found is "Just Like Sugar"***

Back in 2010 I showed you how to make "sugar free"  sugared almonds here.  At that time I still had Brown Sugar Twin in my cupboard but it's easier for me to find and use Ideal Brown Sugar Sweetener now so that is what I use in my sugar free cooking and baking.

Throw this salad together in the amounts YOU like.  More or less feta, more or less dressing, more or less almonds, onions... if you can use them in your way-of-eating, raisins or craisins are excellent in this - but not if you are doing real sugar free.

Here is the basic 'idea' - make it your own.

Spinach Feta Salad

Fresh spinach leaves, washed
'Sugared' almonds (see above link on how to do that sugar-free)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Sugar free balsamic vinaigrette
Red onion - sliced into thin rings
Idea Brown Sugar or any other sweetener - optional
Strawberries - optional if your way-of-eating allows them

I didn't want to wait to make my 'un' sugared almonds - I was too hungry and in a hurry - so I made the quick-and-sticky version by roasting the almonds over medium high heat, adding about 1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar substitute and a little water.  I cooked them until it got thick and caramelized, poured them out onto a piece of lightly greased foil, let them cool a bit before adding to my salad. 

Toss the spinach with the rest of the ingredients and drizzle the dressing on just before serving.  I tasted the dressing, loved it, but for this salad, wanted it to be just a bit sweetened.  I mixed about 2 teaspoons of  sweetener into 3/4 cup dressing and taste tested it.  It had just the sweetness level I personally liked, so I drizzled it over all.  Adjust to your personal taste.



Caramelizing the almonds with brown sugar sweetener

I used Maple Grove Farms brand and Ideal brands - you can use whatever you personally like







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UPDATED 2016 - currently Ideal is not making the brown sugar version any longer but a good substitute is Just Like Sugar.

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