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.
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 (cooked, raw, and blended up or juiced). So you might wonder why I’m making a big deal out of this.
Focusing 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.
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.
I’m curious to know… how do you approach healthy eating? I welcome your thoughts and comments.
- 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
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- 1tbsp lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375?F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For the dressing: Toast the cumin seeds in a pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, add the olive oil with the cumin seeds, coriander, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- 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.
- Sprinkle some pistachios on each salad and serve.
- For more heartier fare, add ripe diced avocado and chickpeas.