Double Carrot Salad (+ my thoughts on healthy eating)

Carrot salad in a bowl with a spoon and fork beside it.

I’ve been a healthy eater for most of my life. In my younger days, I followed the latest health-food trends, focusing on eating “low-fat” or “sugar-free” when that advice seemed to dominate mainstream culture. My diet has always been diverse, but over the years I’ve been swayed by arguments that condemn meat and animal products and back again to diets that focus more on meat, but vilify grains and beans; all claiming the best for your overall well-being. The idea with each approach being that removing a particular category of food would be better for me. In an effort to eat healthy, food became something to fear. Lately, with all the research on metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, it has only seemed right to eliminate or reduce known culprits like sugar, trans fats, and high-fructose corn syrup. The research supports it, after all. So, for a long time I focused my energy on removing things that I believed were not good for me.

Fresh lemon being squeezed over a salad.

I’m not coming down on any of the ways in which people choose to, or have to, eat. Everybody is different. Let me say that again: Every body is different. And if we listen to ourselves, we’ll learn what works for us. The point I’m trying to make is simply this: Many diets or lifestyle approaches direct us to remove foods from our diet. What I’ve come to realize, at least for me, is that this way of nourishing my body is fundamentally flawed. This way of healthy eating doesn’t actually address eating healthy at all. Sure eating less sugar would do us all good, but so would eating an extra serving or two of greens. Avoiding trans-fats would help our hearts, but eating raw olive oil and fatty fish would actually help us more. So instead of trying to “eat less sugar” over the last few months, I’ve been trying to eat more vegetables—bowls of leafy greens, spicy roasted sweet potatoes and squash, sautéed garlicky broccoli, braised cabbages, shaved carrot salads, gooey eggplant, and sprouts we grow at home. You might not find this too surprising if you look back over the (short) history of my blog. My diet has always been rich with vegetables (cookedraw, and blended up or juiced). So you might wonder why I’m making a big deal out of this.

Double carrot salad in a white bowlFocusing on what I want to put in to my body instead of what I want to take out is changing my relationship with food. It has opened me up both physiologically and psychologically to a more peaceful balance. The way that I shop, cook, and think about food feels different–better, more wholesome.

With that, I’m offering you another vegetable dish; a humble salad. I know I just recently posted a salad, but my hope in writing this blog is that I will inspire you to get into the kitchen more often and eat real food (and a few more vegetables). This salad is an investment in your quality of life and in your future. Giving your body things like fibre, vitamins, and anti-oxidants will nourish it by reducing inflammation, helping to regulate blood sugar, and aiding the removal of toxins. The long-term benefits of eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables are far too numerous to list here, but they include helping to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (the main contributors to morbidity and mortality in our culture). Now if that all sounded a bit like a nutrition lecture to you, then all you really need to know is that this food is good, high vibe stuff!

And don’t fret; you can rest easy knowing that I make food, first and foremost, with flavour in mind. I love to eat. This particular salad offers warmth and pungency from the cumin seeds, floral notes peak out of the ground corriander, the citrus adds brightness, and the olive oil rounds it all out. Of course, you know already that, true to its name, the peppercress gives it a peppery/mustardy flavour. Finally, the combination of roasted and raw carrots bring sweetness, but their key contribution is really that of texture.Cropped shot of a double carrot salad in a white bowl

For the record, since some of you have asked, I eat practically everything. My diet is mostly plant-based because that’s what I love, but I eat meat, fish, and dairy on occasion too. I only discriminate based on quality. In fact, true to this post, I’ve actually been trying to eat those things (good, whole, real foods) a little more often than I would have in the past. Gluten is the only thing you won’t see a lot of on this blog and that’s only because I don’t feel great when I eat it. But I’m experimenting with that too. Life is too short to give up sourdough entirely! Calantha, I’m making a special trip to Elora to buy your bread.A hand sprinkling pistachios over a double carrot salad

I’m curious to know… how do you approach healthy eating? I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Double Carrot Salad (+ my thoughts on healthy eating)
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Simple, beautiful, nutritious, and delicious. Add avocado or chickpeas to make it a little more substantial.
Ingredients
  • 8 carrots, young, fresh and brightly coloured if possible. (The colour is optional)
  • ½ tbsp grapeseed oil
  • Peppercress microgreens, if you can get them. If not mustardy/peppery sprouts, arugula, mizuna, or other peppery green will do.
  • ¼ raw, shelled pistachios
  • [Dressing]
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • 1tbsp lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
  • Salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375?F.
  2. Slide 4 of the carrots into halves or quarters, depending on the size. Drizzle with the grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until soft and the edges start to brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel ribbons of carrots from the remaining 4 carrots. Place the peelngs in a bowl of cold water to help them curl.
  4. Meanwhile, toast the pistachios in a pan on the stove over medium-low heat, shaking regularly, until brown and fragrant; pour into a bowl to cool and set aside.
  5. For the dressing: Toast the cumin seeds in a pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  6. In a medium bowl, add the olive oil with the cumin seeds, coriander, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  7. Remove the carrot ribbons from the water and pat dry. In a bowl, toss the carrot ribbons, roasted carrots, and greens in the dressing, and divide among the plates.
  8. Sprinkle some pistachios on each salad and serve.
  9. For more heartier fare, add ripe diced avocado and chickpeas.


17 Comments

  • Reply April 18, 2013

    Kathryn

    I think this is so the right way to eat – focusing on what makes you feel good and that you enjoy eating rather than forbidding certain foods (which is always, in my opinion, setting yourself up for failure). I hate the whole concept of feeling guilty for what you eat or having ‘cheat’ days. Such a good post (and such a delicious sounding recipe!)

  • Reply April 18, 2013

    Kris

    I absolutely agree, Kathryn. In fact, I was just talking about cheat days with a few people at a food blogger conference that I just went to. How we relate our food has a tremendous impact on what we choose to eat. I’m so over feeling guilty!! Thank you for the lovely compliments too!

  • Reply April 18, 2013

    Philip

    Kris,
    Love the post! You share an important perspective… I find many people approaching food with the “fear” concept, and it rarely serves people well… It is sad that eating a non- processed food diet is tough, yet it becomes more and more achievable daily… I agree that a focus on quality foods is the most important thing to consider… Perhaps I can twist your arm to put a post up describing a simple, basic garden that can be planted on something as small as an apartment balcony? I find nothing tastes better, or feels better, than a homegrown tomato, pepper, herb, etc…
    Philip

    • Reply April 18, 2013

      Kris

      You can most certainly twist my arm. You write it up, Dr. Phil and I’ll be your guinea pig and write a post on it. It sounds like a blast. And I couldn’t agree more with you when you say talk about way homegrown food tastes and makes you feel. It’s rewarding on all levels!

  • Reply April 18, 2013

    Lorena

    I have recently embarked on a healthy living/eating life change. It’s funny – but it’s true about how you think about the foods we eat and we think about denying ourselves things or cutting them out of our diet. I have started thinking about the great foods I can eat and how good they are for me, instead of thinking of all the things I shouldn’t eat. I even noticed a change when I grocery shop, spending more time buying veggies – and less time with processed foods. While I have cut back on gluten and dairy, I still eat it on occasion – I just pick and choose and make sure that it’s worth it, instead of it being my usual go-to snack or meal. Thanks for the great food ideas – I love the blog.

    • Reply April 18, 2013

      Kris

      Thanks so much for sharing, Lorena!! I feel so inspired, hopeful, and excited when I hear about the changes that people are making in their lives in an effort to improve their health. And I’m honoured that you love my blog! Seriously.

  • Reply April 18, 2013

    Hayley

    Kris,
    I was talking about this to my husband just yesterday – how to motivate people to eat healthier without making them feel like there is a whole list of “can’t”s instead of “can”s. I think that there is so much truth to helping people feel empowered by their food choices instead of limited. This is the difference between dieting and really making healthy eating the status quo. Thank you for putting it so eloquently!

    • Reply April 18, 2013

      Kris

      Thanks for your kind words, Hayley! It means a lot. What you’re saying is true. If we want to help people improve their health, we need to be able to meet them where they’re at.

  • Reply April 19, 2013

    Janine

    Great approach to eating, very eloquently written. This is my food philosophy http://rhythmandharmony.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/food-philosophies/… I like Michael Pollans: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. An integral component for me is the process of shopping (or growing), preparation, and eating in community!

    • Reply April 22, 2013

      Kris

      Love this, Janine! Thanks so much for your comment. :)

  • Reply April 20, 2013

    Talia Marcheggiani

    I love this post – beautiful images, wonderfully written, thoughtful prose and a delicious-looking salad! I always enjoy perusing your blog. Since coming to CCNM and living among the “vilified foods” and trend diets – while simultaneously living with my Italian grandmother who, although we had an ample supply of gluten, also ate plenty of salads and home-grown veggies from the garden (and homemade wine, cierto!) – I’ve been exploring my own personal eating style and even attempted to write, although not as eloquently as you’ve done, about a philosophy that is similar to yours: putting emphasis on what goes in our bodies, rather than what stays out. It’s very Mother Theresa, who once stated that she wasn’t interested in marching against war but would love to attend a peace march, if there was one. However, my personal experience and the stories of others has also led me to believe that stress plays an important role in our bodies react to food. I’ve heard countless times that, when people are on vacation they “can eat whatever they want” but, as soon as exam-time hits, even potatoes make them go all IBS. So, I try to follow the “Calm the F%*# Down Diet” as much as possible. But, being a CCNM student, sometimes it’s hard to do that. Good luck with following the CTFD in these upcoming weeks!

    • Reply April 22, 2013

      Kris

      Talia, This is hilarious! I wish I knew how to follow the CTFD diet. I’m an amateur at CCNM exam stress. Still. But I do recall Dr. Facca theorizing to us about how damaging stress can be to our bodies when we’re eating food that we don’t think we “should” eat vs foods that we think are ok to eat. The idea being that if you feel guilty and stressed about eating fries, the added stress will do more damage to you than just eating and enjoying the fries to begin with. In the meantime, I’m going to try Calming TFD, in general. :) Good luck! You’re sooo close.

  • Reply April 20, 2013

    Winnie

    This is a great post, Kris! We are due for a long talk. Wish I didn’t have to wait until the summer to see you (you will be as BSP again, right?

    • Reply April 22, 2013

      Kris

      Thanks, Winnie! I have every intention of being at BSP and I (very much!) look forward to connecting with you again. I write NPLEX one week after it and I’m planning to be prepped by then. So as long as everything goes to plan (fingers crossed), I’ll be there!

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