I consider myself lucky.
I enjoy fruits and veggies. And herbs and spices. All sorts.
And I know how to use them.
I know what they do for me.
I know for a lot of people the sheer thought of a broccoli floret, a carrot, beans, or even a plate of spinach sauteed with garlic– is traumatizing. Whereas to me, they’re beautiful. Raw, cooked, paired with dressing or dips, I just love my plant food. At work I’m offered pasta, eggs, bread. I have cookies and cakes and icing and chocolate at my immediate disposal. I taste some things, but that is it. Not because I dislike these items, but because A) I don’t like to take too much food from work, and B) I know how these foods make me feel physically, as opposed to the fresh fruits and veggies I bring from home. My biggest indulgence on the clock is spinach gnocchi when the Miss sneaks over a couple pieces. She’s lovely. I sometimes take home with me her sweet potato salad or jalapeno corn muffins. But she knows the best things to give me are celery, broccoli, tomatoes, arugula in lemon dressing, or even a spoonfull of chipotle pepper! And yes, I eat the chipotle pepper straight up (while co-workers stare in amazement). One time she brought me all the vegetable scraps from a crudite platter she was doing. Cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower… Best day at work. Ever.
I know. Issues. I have them.
Well, mental issues, yes.
Health issues? Haven’t seen one in many moons… Haven’t had a “real” cold in years– I swat them with chili peppers, garlic and onion. The flu and I are complete strangers. Headaches are rare, as is indigestion. My digestive system and I have very clear communication… take that as you will.
I wasn’t always this way. As a kid, I pretty much despised salad. I was down with some fruit. Apple juice was my beverage of choice. But it ain’t an American childhood (especially in the 90’s) if you’re not eating garbage of some sort. Pop Tarts, sugary cereals, hydrogenated oils, Handi-Snacks, Dunkaroos… y’all know what I’m talkin’ ’bout! My immunity wasn’t bad, but it could’ve been better. I remember horrible stomach pains at night, asking Dad to rub my back so I could try to fall asleep. Mom did her best to feed us a healthy diet, but when so many crappy non-foods are marketed as “health food”… it’s not easy. You have to educate yourself. You have to research. You have to learn and experiment and taste and do the whole trial-and-error. Over and over and over.
Which is what I did, starting in my late teens and early twenties.
Mmmmm, glad I did.
So, yes, I know. It’s not easy. You’re not born liking carrots and beets and greens. But just like when we’re babies, we have to try foods several times, and in different preparations, to see if those foods are really not our thang. I hope, if you’re one of those who’s afraid of plants, that this salad piques your interest, and that you try your hand at it, or at least one of the components, or another one of my recipes. Personally, just the roasted beets and carrots are wonderful on their own. I ate some for breakfast… But then again, of course I would.
This salad is a winner. Crisp, creamy, a bit of tang, natural sweetness, and nutritionally packed. Other great additions would be some cooked chickpeas, sprouts, some teriyaki baked tempeh… If you want to go all raw, you can just peel and grate the beet and carrots. Now go be healthy!
for the dressing-
1 cup raw cashews
a few handfuls of cilantro leaves
zest and juice of two limes
salt and pepper to taste
water to adjust consistency
for the salad-
1 medium beet, sliced (peeling is optional)
a couple of large carrots, sliced into coins (or a few medium/small carrots)
a bunch of salad greens (I used chicory, but you can use romaine, spring mix, butter lettuce, etc.)
1 avocado, sliced
1) For the dressing, combine all the ingredients, except water, in a food processor and blend, blend, blend, until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Add water to thin it out to your liking. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the beet and carrot slices with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake until tender. Around half an hour should do. I think…. :)
3) When the beets and carrots are cooled, combine them with the remaining salad ingredients in a bowl. Toss with the dressing, and serve. Yaaaay.