Cupid’s Breakfast Salad

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~ Happy Valentine’s Day! ~ 

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This Valentine’s Day we’re thinking outside the chocolate box. Cupid is no dummy when it comes to starting the day off right. He has plenty of opportunities to eat sweets and goodies, but knows he’ll need to stay healthy and full of energy for the task at hand.

After all, being the symbol of love and master of attraction and affection is no easy task.

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Cupid’s Breakfast Salad is balanced beautifully with all kinds of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats.

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There’s even a little bacon on top to add a bit of salty, smokey, goodness.

Cupid knows that bacon spells L-O-V-E.

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His dressing is made with tart cherry juice, the deep and romantic color of the heart. Tart cherries reduce inflammation, lower the risk of stroke, fight that tummy jiggle, and are loaded with melatonin to give a peaceful start to the day.

Cupid wants only what’s best for you when it comes to matters of the heart and health.

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“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ―Virginia Woolf

Cupid’s Breakfast Salad

2 Cups of Packed Organic Spinach, stems removed

1 Organic Red Chard Leaf, stem removed and sliced

1/2 of an Organic Avocado, cubed

1/2 of a Small Organic Apple, cubed

1 Organic Clementine, peeled with a knife, sectioned

4-5 Organic Strawberries, cubed, plus some for garnish

1 Slice of Organic Bacon Cooked Crisp, crumbled

4 Organic Pecans, sliced lengthwise

1 Medjool Date, seed removed and diced

Toss all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.

Cupid’s Tart Cherry Dressing

4 teaspoons of Organic Lemon Juice

3 teaspoons of Pure Maple Syrup

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

1/2 Cup of Organic Tart Cherry Juice

2 1/2 Tablespoons of So Delicious Greek Style Raspberry Coconut Milk Yogurt

Grated Rind of 1/2 of a Lemon

Pinch of Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Rind of 1 Lemon

Place all ingredients in a jar and screw lid on tightly. Shake until emulsified.

Multi Grain Gluten Free Bread

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Today is my Blogversary. Three years ago today I started Gluten Free Zen.

What better way to celebrate than with an excellent gluten-free bread?

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Gluten free has come a long way since I kicked it out of my diet several years ago. Remember what gluten-free bread was like? Ugh. That weird slippery feel when it went down your throat…lack of taste, crumbly texture…forget making a sandwich with it unless it was toasted, and even then it wouldn’t stay together.

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Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on store bought gluten-free bread these days. They even design bread machines with gluten-free features now! In fact, a few months ago, we bought one. How wonderful it is to have the house smell like freshly baked bread again.

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You can go here to read several different bread machine reviews.

I love this particular bread machine because it has a gluten-free setting. I don’t have to guess or do a lot of work or thinking to figure out how to use it. Which is after all, the purpose of having a bread machine right? I read all kinds of reviews on other machines where you have to start it on one cycle, move to another, yadda..yadda..yadda. No thank you.

In the Breadman, I add all the liquids, add the dry ingredients, shut the lid, and push the gluten-free cycle. After it’s mixed for a few minutes I help it along with a little stir, possibly add a couple more Tablespoons of water if I think it’s looking too dry, smooth out the top, and leave it alone for three hours. Maybe 15 minutes of my time, if even that, from start to finish. Easy!

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The payoff is well worth the tiny amount of time it takes to throw everything together. I believe I paid around $175.00 for it on Amazon. Worth every penny. And quite inexpensive if you compare it to how many loaves of gluten-free bread you buy at the grocery store every year.

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We typically go through about 1 loaf of gluten-free bread a week. That’s 48 loaves of bread a year (at least), and if they’re store bought, that adds up to almost $240.00 a year. And it’s not EVEN GOOD has very little nutrition, and good luck finding organic.

An initial investment in a good bread machine, organic healthy flours, grains, etc. will seem a little pricey, but it’s well worth it in the long run both financially and for your health.

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Multi Grain Gluten Free Bread

1 1/4 Cups of Sorghum Flour

1 Cup of Amaranth Flour

1/4 Cup of Quinoa Flour

1/2 Cup of Ground Flaxseed

1/4 Cup of Whole Grain Amaranth

1/2 Cup of Tapioca Starch

1 Tablespoon of Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 teaspoons of Bread Machine Yeast or Instant Yeast

1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 1/2 Cups of Warm Water (maybe a couple Tablespoons more)

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar

4 Eggs

Add all liquid ingredients to your bread machine. In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients and add to the liquid ingredients. Turn bread machine on gluten free setting. Allow it to stir for about 10 minutes, then open the lid and scrape the sides down with a spatula. At this point, I sometimes add a couple more Tablespoons of water if I think it is looking a little too dry. Close the lid and wait for the mixing cycle to finish. Smooth the top with a spatula (sometimes it forms a dome), close the lid and don’t open it again until it’s finished. 

Beef Bone Broth

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You may remember a post from a few weeks ago where I touted the benefits of bone broth. In that post I used our leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving. Since then I’ve used that turkey bone broth in all kinds of dinner dishes and soups. Not only does it add a wonderful, concentrated flavor, it is fantastic for gut health.

Use All Organic Ingredients

Use All Organic Ingredients

Now don’t mistake broth or stock with bone broth. In bone broth you use bones and joints and it simmers in a crockpot or on top of your stove for many hours, sometimes days. When it cools it becomes solid and gelatinous. This is how you know you were able to get all of the “good stuff” out of the bones and joints.

After 12 Hours

After 12 Hours

This is just a basic post on beef bone broth. Not many photos because I ran through the process in the last turkey bone broth post. The beef bone broth is a bit different because this time I added vegetables and fresh herbs, but otherwise, the process is pretty much the same. The beef bones cook off a lot of fat. You can skim it off the top before you store it, or wait until it has set and you get it out of the freezer to use. Or you can use the fat, it’s up to you.

After 24 Hours ~ Everything Is Out Of The Bones & The Cartilage Has Boiled Down To Almost Nothing

After 24 Hours ~ Everything Is Out Of The Bones & The Cartilage Has Boiled Down To Almost Nothing

You can go here for straining and storage directions.

Beef Bone Broth

Grass Fed Organic Beef Marrow Bones, Beef Bones, and Beef Joints

2 Medium Organic Onions

2 Large Organic Carrots

2 Ribs of Organic Celery

Fresh, Organic Rosemary & Thyme Sprigs

1 Organic Bay Leaf

1 Whole Head of Organic Garlic, smashed & skins removed

2 Tablespoons of Raw Unfiltered Organic Apple Cider

A Few Grinds of Peppercorns & Sea Salt

(I salt and peppered a little before the cooking process and then I don’t add it again until I drink the broth or cook with it. You can also wait until it’s done cooking and salt and pepper to taste.)

Place the beef bones and joints in a crockpot. Add the chopped vegetables, herbs, and garlic. Add the apple cider vinegar.

Cover the vegetables and bones with filtered or spring water. Cover and cook on low for  at least 24 hours. My crockpot only cooks for 12 hours so I had to reset it for another 12. 

Be Aware of Lyme Disease ~ Part II

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In Part I of Be Aware of Lyme Disease I gave you a basic rundown on what exactly Lyme Disease is and how it works. I also shared my weekly symptoms with you as they mounted before treatment and my symptoms after the first wave of antibiotic treatment.

I cannot stress enough the importance of sharing knowledge, symptoms, ideas, remedies, research, treatments, similarities, and questions.

So let’s start Part II discussing the CDC.

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Why is sharing important? Because there is a HUGE gap between what the CDC requires of mainstream doctors for a diagnosis of Lyme Disease and treatment of it, and how Lyme Literate doctors and Lyme Disease experts are diagnosing and treating their patients. This means if you fear you have Lyme Disease, or you need Lyme Disease treatment and you do not have a Lyme Literate doctor or expert, you may not get the treatment you need, the diagnosis you need for your insurance to help you pay for it, and you could end up extremely sick for years on end waiting for someone to finally take you and your symptoms seriously.

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photo courtesy of ydr.com

Basically, the CDC supports ELISA and the Western Blot blood testing for Lyme Disease. The ELISA test is an enzyme/immune response test and the Western Blot is an immunoblot test that helps to distinguish Lyme Disease from other diseases that possibly show up with the ELISA test. You can go here to read through all of the CDC information and requirements for Lyme Disease in depth.

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(photo courtesy of the CDC)

There are three sections or “bars” on the Western Blot and according to the CDC each bar must test positive before they will consider a Lyme Disease diagnosis. These CDC guidlines are sadly outdated and the majority of mainstream doctors still follow them line by line today! Yet, I have read on the Lyme Expert websites that even ONE bar on the Western Blot Test can be “strongly considered a positive diagnosis for Lyme Disease”.  It’s unfortunate to say the least, that the CDC has not updated it’s information, guidelines, or treatment protocols much over the years. Especially considering Lyme Disease is reaching epidemic numbers.

Imagine if so many tests are overlooked and stamped with a negative, yet Lyme is becoming an epidemic….that means truly that there are many, many, more Lyme Disease cases that are going untreated and undocumented.  Let’s also keep in mind the discussion in Part I about how the Lyme bacteria have a cloaking ability to hide from testing and treatment, even when symptoms remain. It’s unsettling to me with this  knowledge of how the Lyme Disease bacteria works, that the CDC is comfortable with outdated protocols, diagnostic tools, and treatments.

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I had one bar on the Western Blot come back positive. My doctor explained to me the CDC guidelines for testing and I was tested again. That test came back negative, yet my symptoms continued to mount. When I took the first test, I felt like death. I was horribly ill. When I took the second test a few weeks later, I was having a relatively feel “decent, like I was going to live” day. Thankfully, my doctor was willing to treat me based on the first test and my mounting symptoms. Lyme Literate doctors that specialize in Lyme testing agree that it is of “utmost importance” that you only do Lyme blood tests when you are feeling 100% symptomatic. Otherwise, the testing could result in a false negative.

Go here to see the “28 Reasons for False Negative Test Results in Lyme Disease

The CDC also has a “relaxed” timeline of treating Lyme Disease. Lyme Literate doctors and experts have a much more aggressive attitude toward diagnosis and treatment. They also diagnose and treat based on symptoms because of the cloaking ability of the bacteria, not just blood testing alone. It’s extremely important that you have a physician who has an aggressive attitude when it comes to treating you for Lyme Disease.

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Read here about the Stages of Lyme Disease. But keep in mind, it can vary. Just because you don’t suffer from all of the symptoms or may have additional symptoms, does not mean you should not discuss Lyme Disease with your doctor.

I love my doctor although she is not trained as a Lyme Literate doctor and is not a Lyme expert. She was however diagnosed with Lyme Disease as a teen and one of the other doctors in the clinic has recently been treated for Lyme Disease. Lyme disease is very prevalent on the east coast, so I would say many of the doctors here (not all!) are informed with the basic tools. For now, in the initial stages of testing and treatment, I am happy with the results I am getting with her. She is willing to think outside the CDC box and be a bit more aggressive in treatment. However, with that said, eventually I will focus on seeing a specialist to do more in depth testing to make sure the Lyme bacteria has been tackled for good.

The moment I knew I had the right doctor for me? She’s not in a rush during my appointment. She listens intently. She considers information based on the whole person, not just the symptoms. She shows real concern about my health. She does not jump to conclusions. She offers information, ideas, and specific advice.

Finally at the end of my appointments she touches on each topic we have discussed to make sure she she isn’t missing anything… and most importantly, the words we all dream of hearing from our doctors but rarely do are said to me… “Do you feel like we have a plan? I don’t want you to feel like you’re leaving here without help.”

Amen.

Just having an emotionally supportive doctor alone can give your health a much needed boost.

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(photo courtesy of attainfertility.com)

You’ve heard of Amy Tan, famous author and film writer?

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A few days ago one of my blog followers, a Physical Therapist in Washington state, sent me this article written by Amy Tan about her battle with Late Stage Lyme Disease. The PT referred to it as “riveting, appalling, and compelling”, and I would definitely agree.

 It is an absolute must read.

SLyme Disease – How a Speck Changed My Life Forever, by Amy Tan

The moral of the story?

Fight for your health. Educate yourself, regardless of the naysayers and eye rolling of people who just don’t get it, including family memebers. Keep track of your symptoms. Go to your doctor with a list. One list  with symptoms, one with questions, one with requests and ideas for treatment. Be proactive. If you don’t like how they respond to you or if you feel they aren’t taking your symptoms or questions seriously, move on. Find another doctor who will, don’t waste time trying to convince your doctor you’re sick.

Go here to research Lyme Literate Doctors near you.

Everything In Its Place ~ My Corner Of The World

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Good morning!

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What did you have for breakfast? I’m always curious about what kinds of foods people start their days off with. I prefer dinner leftovers, but since I put the remainder of the lasagna I made in the freezer, I had to settle with oatmeal.

Oatmeal is not my favorite by any means. A favorite breakfast would consist of a slice of cherry pie, or a big slice of chocolate cake, or even leftover spaghetti and garlic bread. Now that’s a breakfast. I did have dried cherries in my oatmeal though. Not that dried cherries even come close to pretending I’m eating cherry pie for breakfast. I also added dates, pecans, almond milk, and a Tablespoon of coconut oil…in case you were wondering. My teacup has organic green tea and a nice sized dollop of Manuka honey.

Also, what do you do while eating breakfast? Read the paper, a book, watch the news, sit in silence, chat with your family, eat standing up and multi-task, or maybe you don’t eat breakfast at all? If Tony is out of town I usually read my book or check email, FB, and Pinterest. If he’s here, we chat with each other about current events, what he’s read in the local paper, life in general.

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Today is cleaning day, but I spent most of yesterday organizing some of our closets. This house has an abundance of closets and we seem to have filled all of them to the brim…and not in an organized fashion. I was so excited when we moved out of the other house because I felt like we really got rid of a lot of “stuff”.  So how could we possibly fill 8 closets to the brim?

There’s only two of us in this house. This is only 3 of 8 closets.

Here are several before pictures.

Now don’t judge.

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So I tackled them. One by one, went through everything and managed 3 bags for Goodwill and even had to throw away a few expired food items. We recently switched to all natural laundry supplies and cleaners, so I managed to get rid of a large bag of cleaners and an impressive amount of laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets to a young neighbor.

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By the way, that floor steamer/cleaner you see in there? LOVE it. Cannot say enough good things about it and it makes my life so much easier.  Works on tile, wood, and I believe it also works on Pergo. You can see it here. We found it on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond and saved $30. It is worth every penny. We have a lot of tile and wood floors and it has cut my cleaning time by over an hour!

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I found the idea for using these shoe holders as extra storage and organization on Pinterest. They do work well for that, but after having them clank around every time we open the closet doors, I’ve had enough. We’ll have to utilize them for other things.

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For a house with a gazillion closets…the coat closet is tiny. We had to install a second rod under the upper one to store the winter coats. There’s lot’s of “weather” in New Hampshire. The extra rod doesn’t do much for a tidy look though.

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And here are the after pictures.

Now, when I open each one of the doors, there’s no need for groaning and dreaded disorganization.

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In fact, several times last night, I went over and opened each closet door and peered in, just so I could actually experience the effects of “tidy environment, peaceful mind”.

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And I’m not going to lie.

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It felt good, really good. 

Even if it did take me all day and I didn’t make it out of my pajamas until I crawled into bed with a fresh pair.

Simple Sea Salt S’Mores

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These delightful little cookies are incredibly easy and have all the factors necessary for the perfect treat.

Sweet, salty, chocolately, crispy, and gooey. 

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They are best eaten on day 2 when all the flavors and textures have had a chance to settle down and get to know each other.

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Simple Sea Salt S’Mores

12 Ounces of Dairy Free Semi-Sweet Chocolate

1 Jar of Marshmallow Fluff (or you can make your own)

1 Box of Schar Gluten Free Honeygraham Crackers

Sea Salt

Roughly chop the chocolate and place in a double boiler, or use a pan and a bowl like I did. Heat the water on medium as to not melt the chocolate too quickly, risking overcooking.

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Remove all of the graham crackers from the box. With a serrated knife, very carefully and slowly, saw your way through each cracker.

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 Carefully spread a dollop of marshmallow fluff on each one and top with another cracker. I was a little too hasty with the first couple and snapped them when I spread the marshmallow. Then they accidentally fell into the melted chocolate and into my mouth.

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Oil a wire cooling rack and place a piece of parchment or wax paper underneath. Place each cookie on the rack and with a spoon, spread chocolate over the tops of each one and sprinkle with sea salt.

This part will need to go relatively quickly because the hot chocolate will make the lids want to slide off of the marshmallow fluff. So spread the chocolate and then set the cookie rack somewhere cold where the chocolate can set up. Check them after about 5 minutes and do any necessary lid adjusting. I set mine outside on our deck, but you could put them in the fridge or freezer as well.

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Once set, they will keep in a covered container on the counter for several days. 

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Alysia Marie’s Famous Kale Salad

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While we were in Washington State we were able to travel 3 hours from our home town to Walla Walla, WA to visit with Tony’s sister and her family for a night.

It was such a wonderful visit! We weren’t able to see them before we left for New Hampshire last year, so I believe it had been almost a year and a half since we’d visited with them. Far, far, too long.

These are our gorgeous nieces, Maggie and Olivia (Brandon is in the chair).

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Such sweet things and so hilarious! Smart and beautiful, well-rounded, polite, pleasant, girls. I would steal them in a heart beat and bring them back to New Hampshire to live with us if I could! We had so much fun after the delicious dinner Alysia prepared just sitting together in the living room in our PJ’s, chatting, catching up, and listening to the girls tell funny stories. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!

While we were visiting, Maggie showed me how to make a knitted arm scarf. So crazy! Knitting, by just using your arms. You can go here for a tutorial I found on YouTube. You can make a scarf in 30 minutes or less! Here’s a picture of the one they made for me.

I’m thinking I may have to mail them some yarn and a little cash to make me more scarves!

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The next day while the guys and all the kids went shooting at the range and wandering around town, the ladies, Alysia, Sandy my mother in law, and I, set off to do a little shopping and hit a Starbuck’s. Starbucks are few and far between on the east coast so I wanted to stop as often as possible on our trip through the West. We weren’t feeling like doing a lot of shopping so we headed home to Alysia’s where she served us home-made bean soup and her kale salad.

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I’m going to call it her “famous” kale salad because she said she takes it to almost every gathering and although she worries that people will grow tired of it, it’s always eaten and raved about.

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And I would have to agree, it is delicious. I’ve thought about it every day since we left her house and have just now had the opportunity to make it. Even my husband loves it and he doesn’t like any savory or vegetable dish with nuts and dried fruit.

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Notice that Alysia is also wearing an arm knitted infinity scarf!

I believe I’ve gotten the recipe correct…I wrote it down while we were there and promptly lost it when I cleaned out my purse and thought it was an old shopping list. Then, I called her just the other day and wrote it on a piece of scrap paper on my desk…and sure enough, it has disappeared. So, rather than call her again and reveal that I’m a complete idiot, this recipe is from memory, I hope I do it justice.

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I will give you the amounts I used for about 6-8 servings, you can adjust it as needed. This salad keeps very well overnight in the fridge for snacking the next day. In fact, I probably ate about 4 servings for breakfast!

Alysia Marie’s Famous Kale Salad

1 Large Head of Organic Red Kale (or any kale you like), stems removed leaves sliced thinly

1 Medium Organic Apple, diced (I poured a little apple cider vinegar in a bowl and tossed the apples in it so they wouldn’t brown)

1/2 of a Medium Organic Red Onion, diced

3 Tablespoons of Organic Dried Cranberries

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Raw Organic Sunflower Seeds

5 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup (hopefully one from New England!)

7 Tablespoons of  Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

4 Tablespoons of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Place the sliced kale, chopped onion, diced apple, cranberries, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Pour over salad and toss until thoroughly coated.

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