Autumn Harvest Salad

Autumn Harvest Salad with Mixed Greens, Roasted Butternut Squash, Avocado, Goat Cheese and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Carrot Ginger Dressing.

Needless to say 2020 been a very stressful year for just about everyone. While comfort food is great for making us feel emotionally better, it’s also important to make sure to get proper nutrition into your diet for lasting health benefits and stress reduction. Diets that contain lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts and beans tend to supply a lot of the nutrients that can help reduce stress. 

Important nutrients for stress reduction include Vitamin C to help lower the stress hormone cortisol; complex carbohydrates to help the brain increase serotonin production and stabilize blood pressure; magnesium to help improve sleep quality and fight fatigue; omega-3 fatty acids to reduce surges of stress hormones and help with depression.

Following is a list of foods that can be used in salads and are high in the nutrients that help with stress reduction:

Vitamin C

Red and green peppers, oranges, kiwi fruit, broccoli, strawberries, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes. 

Complex carbohydrates

Whole grains such as brown rice or farro, nuts, seeds, beans, fruit and vegetables.


Pumpkin seeds, winter squash, almonds, beans, avocados, carrots, salmon, broccoli

Omega-3 fatty acids

Salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, avocados, canola oil

With so many autumn harvest food choices available to help manage stress, it’s super easy to come up with salad combinations that can please just about anyone. Fresh fruit salads are a great option for children. Another hit with kids is to toast pumpkin seeds after carving the Halloween pumpkin. Experiment with the seeds by sprinkling them with flavorings such as seasoned low sodium salt or cinnamon with a small touch of sugar.

Try a mixture of leafy greens such as spinach, spring mix and arugula when creating a savory salad and include roasted winter squash as well as salmon and nuts. Top your salad with goat cheese for added protein or top with fruit for added vitamin C. Salad dressing recipes that use canola oil such as balsamic vinaigrette or fruit vinaigrettes will add a boost of flavor to your salad.

Have fun in the kitchen!

Carrot Ginger Salad Dressing


1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

¼ cup chopped onion, or 1 tsp. onion powder for a milder flavor

2 tablespoons of ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon honey

3/4 cup organic canola or vegetable oil

Salt to taste


Put all of the ingredients except for the oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Slowly add the oil and blend until the mixture has emulsified.


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Susan Vander Maas is a graduate of Ohio State University/ATI Wooster. She is co-owner of Doc’s Deli, established in 2007.