A creamy, anti-inflammatory tahini turmeric dressing coats this simple white bean salad with blueberries, basil, mint and pickled red onions while broccoli sprouts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds bring a nutritious boost and crunchy texture.
*This post is sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation. All content and opinions are my own.
2020 has been the year of beans for me.
It’s unfortunately been the year of a lot of other things I would rather do without (quarantining, social distancing and sheltering in place to name a few!) but beans are not one of those things.
Back in October, I sort of went through this dietary shift (after lots of reading and podcast listening and a general interest in long-term health and wellness) where plant-based eating became a lot more prominent for me.
That’s not to say I’ve given up meat entirely but meals without it have become the majority instead of the minority. Getting in as much plant variety as possible over the course of a week has become super important to me and almost like a “game” I play with myself. Exciting times over here.
Hence the uptick in my bean consumption. Between lentils and beans, my pantry is getting hit much harder than my freezer these days.
Instead of 3 meals a day including animal protein, maybe it’s 1 now. Or maybe, it’s none at all. That’s something that just last year would’ve blown my mind! It’s been a fun challenge to think of ways to put meals together I might not have in the past.
Take this white bean salad for instance. In a previous life this would’ve been a delicious side dish to me (alongside something like a steak or piece of chicken). Today, I’ll happily enjoy a bowl of this as the main dish with maybe some crackers or avocado toast on the side.
Besides being full of fiber from the beans, healthy fats and iron from the pumpkin and sunflower seeds and a detoxification powerhouse from the broccoli sprouts, this blueberry white bean salad along with the turmeric tahini dressing is also packed with anti-inflammatory components.
I’m partnering with the Arthritis Foundation again this year on this recipe and while I’ve truly loved every recipe creation we’ve collaborated on in the past like this sheet pan turmeric salmon and Instant Pot coconut pork, I’m really digging the vibes of this bean salad. It may be my favorite recipe yet.
Not only did I get to create a recipe packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients that many arthritis sufferers find helpful to consume in mitigating their pain from the disease, I was also able to connect to one of the members within the community to learn about her story with juvenille arthritis (JA) and how her life has been impacted since her diagnosis at age 3.
While arthritis is extremely prevalent – 54 million Americans have the disease (1 in 4 people), including 300,000 children, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers and understand the human side to it.
That’s why I wanted to share some of my interview with Shannan with you.
*Note- the interview below is paraphrased.
To start, I asked Shannan to give us a quick run-down of her story.
Shannan: I was diagnosed at age 3. Being a baby in the 80s it was hard to get an actual diagnosis. I never crawled. My knees always hurt and I would always point to my knees as a kid. When we finally got the diagnosis, my parents were told I would most likely be in a wheelchair by age 6. That didn’t happen though! They tried lots of treatments on me – everything from OT, PT to more experimental treatments like gold shots. Teachers in school would tell my parents I looked bored in class because I was resting my head in my heads on the desk. But it was really just because my neck hurt. Through high school, I had surgeries on my legs but tried to hide it as much as possible. Without social media back then, it was hard to know or connect with anyone else with the disease. After getting my bachelors, I finally realized there was a world out there like me and that’s when I connected with the Arthritis Foundation to try and give back. In 2018, I had bilateral shoulder replacements. I never expected shoulders to be the thing I needed replaced at this point in life but the pain came on so suddenly and intensely.
How are you involved with the Arthritis Foundation and their ambassador program?
Shannan: As a platinum ambassador, I’m in an advocacy role. I started volunteering with the NY office. In 2016, they asked me to go down to D.C. to their advocacy summit. In the past I didn’t really understand how politics fit in with the disease but the conference was eye-opening and I haven’t stopped since. Just sharing your story with your Congressmen. Many people just don’t realize that young people have arthritis. When you’re living in that world you think everyone knows, but they don’t.
From a dietary standpoint, have you experimented with any changes to try and help your symptoms?
Shannan: About 8 years ago, I got really interested in that approach to treating arthritis. I went through the online program with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition just to learn for myself and my own knowledge. I got pretty strict with it and while I wish I could say I had excellent results, I didn’t. I definitely see a difference though when I eat poorly vs. not. My rheumatologist is an integrative rheumatologist and he relies heavily on supplements and diet rather than pushing traditional medications. He has me on all sorts of supplements from multi-vitamins to a boswelia complex to a greens/algae among many others and he can always tell when I walk into the office if I haven’t kept up with my regimen! Nothing has been the magic bullet but the small things add up.
Have you noticed the impact of arthritis when you’re in the kitchen?
Shannan: Oh definitely! That’s one of my biggest issues. Just as an example, I have bananas rotting away right now perfect for making banana bread and I keep telling my husband I’m going to make it but just getting myself to do it is so hard. Because the pan isn’t the normal pan, so I have to bend down and over. And it sounds minuscule when you’re saying it but it’s not and it’s a deterrent for sure. We opened tortillas the other night and I always just cut them. Most people would just pull it apart. I always cut them. My husband noticed it the other night and was like “wow, you always cut them” and I didn’t even realize I do it that way until he mentioned it. He opens all jars or water bottles or anything that needs pre-opening. I’ll end up cooking something entirely differently than it’s meant to in order to accommodate my pain.
Shannan and I talked about a few other things like how wrist surgery is currently on the table for her because of her hand pain and what her outlook is for arthritis as a whole both in government as well as through the Arthritis Foundation.
My hope is that through my conversation with Shannan the statistics that I’ve shared in these posts come to life. There are actually people behind the disease and the impacts of it range far and wide.
From smaller things (although not any less significant) like not being able to open jars or cans while cooking to much larger surgeries like bilateral shoulder replacement in your mid-30s, the effects of arthritis are widespread and can be incredibly debilitating.
As you heard Shannan say, diet isn’t necessarily a magic pill. Most aren’t just miraculously cured by eating some turmeric, sprinkling some cinnamon on their oatmeal or enjoying other anti-inflammatory foods here and there.
It is part of the bigger picture though and I’m a firm believer in the little things adding up. Plus, when you’re talking about ingredients like blueberries, seeds, broccoli sprouts, beans, turmeric and garlic as some of the main players, there’s really no downside.
Many of the ingredients in this blueberry bean salad are well known for their anti-inflammatory and/or antioxidant properties. And if they help even just a little bit to ease the pains of anyone suffering from arthritis or other inflammatory diseases, I’ll call that a win!
The Live YES! Arthritis Network is what Shannan was referring to in our conversation. Founded by the Arthritis Foundation, it makes connections both in person and online to empower people to live their best lives.
Through the network, there is the Live YES! Insights where those affected by arthritis take a 10-minute assessment sharing their experience. The data compiled through this will help advocate to decision makers the impacts of the disease and help break down barriers to care among other things.
The network also has connect groups for in-person connection and community and well as online groups. It’s a way to feel supported among other people living through similar hardships and share experiences, advice, etc.
You can learn more through the video here.
Whether you’re battling a debilitating inflammatory disease like arthritis or not, I think you’ll love this salad.
With its creamy tahini turmeric dressing, fresh sweet blueberries that balance the savory white beans and the fun pop from the pickled red onions, it’s got a lot of goodness going on!
Love this recipe? Check out these salads too:
Pickled Blueberry Panzanella Salad
Turmeric Chicken Salad
Yogurt Tahini Mediterranean Carrot Salad
Bay Scallop Baby Kale Corn Salad with Savory Tart Cherry Granola
Radicchio Endive Fennel Salad with Tangy Dijon Herb Dressing
Blueberry White Bean Salad with Tahini Turmeric Dressing
For the Blueberry White Bean Salad:
- 15 ounce can navy beans* drained and rinsed
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1/4 cup pickled red onions**
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves chopped
- 1/4 cup mint leaves chopped
- 1/4 cup broccoli sprouts***
- 1 tablespoon pepitas pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- salt and peper to taste
For the Tahini Turmeric Dressing
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 ” fresh turmeric root grated
- 1 clove garlic grated
- zest from 1/2 a lemon
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- water to thin about 2-3 tablespoons
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl then pour on top of salad.
- Toss gently to combine, season to taste with salt and pepper.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.