spinach-mandarin power salad

spinach_mandarin_power_salad
Spinach is an amazing powerhouse of vitamins and minerals: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, and K, plus folic acid, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Mandarin oranges contain vitamin C. Both mandarin oranges and spinach are fat-free, and pecans are high in fiber and protein. This colorful salad is not only nutritious, it’s also beautiful, and the complex dressing provides a wonderful burst of flavor!

1/4 cup pecans, toasted
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. brown mustard
2 Tbs. orange juice
Dash of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed
11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

1. Toast pecans in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes, watching them carefully. When they start to brown and release their oils (about 2 to 3 minutes), remove from pan and place on paper towels to cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine next 7 ingredients with a wire whisk to make the dressing.

3. Add spinach leaves and orange slices; combine with dressing. Arrange salad on serving plates. Top with toasted pecans.

Variations: You can add sliced green onions if you like them, or substitute toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts for the pecans.