Health Begins in the Kitchen

Arugula and Macadamia Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Arugula and Macadamia Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Arugula and Macadamia Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette (The “No-Brainer” Brainy Salad)

Nitric oxide doesn’t sound like something that should be good for us. You might be thinking it sounds pretty close to those nasty cancer-causing chemicals found in things like deli meat and bacon (nitrates). However, nitric oxide is more important to our brain and blood vessel heath than we can imagine.(1)

This natural chemical is found plentifully in green veggies and actually helps to keep blood flowing smoothly in our arteries. Blood flow is so important to the brain. This organ, like your heart, needs loads of nutrients and oxygen that blood vessels deliver.  Nitric oxide can even act like a neurotransmitter in the brain.(2)

Leafy greens, especially arugula, hold the key to getting those brain and performance enhancing nitric oxide. In fact, arugula is the winner offering 480 mg of nitric oxide in 100 grams. Butter leaf lettuce, beets, cilantro, basil, rhubarb, Spirulina, Swiss chard, broccoli and dark chocolate are all runners up.(3)(4) Even one meal may increase your cognitive performance according to a study published in Physiological Behavior.(5)

I always thought Arugula was a bit spicy and bitter for my taste so I had avoided it for a long time until I found out its amazing benefits.  Then the health-conscious part of my brain said, “well, give it another shot because it’s not exactly like you’d be choking it down.” So I tried it again…but this time with an amazing dressing that balances it’s tartness.  Besides the extra virgin olive oil in the dressing, I added an awesome healthy fat in the form of crushed macadamia nuts.  Nummy!

Arugula and Macadamia Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

November 23, 2018
: 4
: 10 min
: 10 min
: easy

Dark leafy greens are no brainers when it comes to giving your brain valuable nutrients like nitric oxide--so important is increasing blood flow to parts of the body requiring extra nutrients. Arugula contains the highest amount of any vegetable. In fact, even one meal of arugula has been shown to improve cognitive performance according to a 2015 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.


  • 1/4 cup strawberries
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 2 handfuls of pea shoots or any other sprout or microgreen
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, slice
  • Step 1 Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and mix well
  • Step 2 Divide salad ingredients equally among 4 plates (arugula topped with shoots then strawberries and crushed macadamia nuts)
  • Step 3 Divide vinaigrette between 4 plates
  1. Džoljić, E. “Why Is Nitric Oxide Important for Our Brain?” Functional Neurology, 2015, doi:10.11138/fneur/2015.30.3.159.
  2. Kuriyama, Kinya, and Seitaro Ohkuma. “Role of Nitric Oxide in Central Synaptic Transmission: Effects on Neurotransmitter Release.” The Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 69, no. 1, 1995, pp. 1–8., doi:10.1254/jjp.69.1.
  3. Admin. “6 Foods to Send Nitric Oxide Levels Soaring.” The Good Inside at Touchstone Essentials, Touchstone Essentials, 25 Mar. 2018,
  4. Lugavere, Max. Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive, While Protecting Your Brain for Life. Harper Collins Books, 2018. pg. 134.
  5. Wightman, Emma L., et al. “Dietary Nitrate Modulates Cerebral Blood Flow Parameters and Cognitive Performance in Humans: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Investigation.” Physiology & Behavior, vol. 149, 2015, pp. 149–158., doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.05.035.