Spring Veggie Toast

Spring is such a fabulous time to eat. I've been swooning hard over all the pretty green things at the farmer's market each weekend, which has left me feeling super inspired and creative in the kitchen. And because toast really is the most, I chose to highlight a few of my spring favs on a slice.  

All good (and delicious) things are built on a solid foundation, so let's talk bread for a moment. Thanks to lots of false advertising and circulating misinformation, picking a nutritious bread can feel extremely confusing. My go-to? I always opt for either an organic sourdough (preferably from a local baker), or a sprouted, whole grain, and gluten-free option from the freezer section of Whole Foods. 

Personally, I do my best to steer clear of gluten, as it's a known inflammatory and too much leaves me feeling sluggish and foggy. However, I find organic sourdough options to be okay in moderation. The soaking and fermentation process involved in making sourdough breaks down the gluten protein into easier-to-digest amino acids and increases the healthy bacteria count, making it much easier on the digestive system. And honestly, given the choice between a high-quality and organic gluten-containing bread and a gluten-free bread made from corn- and potato-derived ingredients (both of which contain little to no nutritional value), I always choose the gluten-containing yet still wholesome option. It makes me cringe to see people buying crappy gluten-free breads/crackers/whatever thinking they are doing something good for their health, when in reality these products are just as processed and absent in nutrients as many conventional grocery store loaves. 

Of course, if you have a known gluten sensitivity or allergy, go gluten-free. Just look for a variety that uses whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, and teff in lieu of white rice, corn, and potato. I personally love everything from Food for Life.

To top the toast, I picked out a few of the season's finest - arugula, garlic, and fava beans over a layer of creamy avocado. Aside from tasting completely incredible, this combo is downright nutrient-packed. Yes, preparing the fava beans is a true labor of love, but I promise it is well worth the effort. They're super high in plant based protein, as well as thiamin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and manganese. So much goodness. Two of the top standouts? The folate and manganese.

Folate (aka vitamin B9) is key for energy metabolism, and has been found to lower risk of depression, heart disease, and cancer. One cup of cooked fava beans packs about 44 percent of our daily needs. Manganese plays a crucial role in the functioning of our immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, and just one cup of cooked fava beans supplies us with nearly 100 percent of our daily needs of this often forgotten (yet oh-so-important) mineral. 

Finishing off the dish, I couldn't resist adding bit of shaved parm, but this recipe could easily be kept vegan and dairy-free by skipping this step. And feel free to improvise with what you have on hand! The fava beans and garlic could be deliciously substituted for fresh peas and caramelized shallots (yum), or whatever you can find at your local market. Get creative! Don't forget to share your creations with the Solful Health community by hash-tagging #solfulhealth on Instagram.


SPRING VEGGIE TOAST

Makes 1 serving