We decluttered and reorganized our bookshelf and office last weekend. As a planner and a checklist lover I consider myself an organized person. But I am less enthused by deep organizational work involving tangible objects, such as organizing the bookshelf. It overwhelms me. While no single step is difficult I paint a mental image of the process being messy and chaotic: pulling down all the books, sorting them into piles to stay or be boxed up, oh and while we're at it rearranging some surrounding furniture, cleaning behind the furniture, then cleaning the bookshelf, and finally re-shelving the books.
But at the end of the day I love the feeling after the work is complete and we are enjoying the space. It's a cleanse for the reading nook and once again makes it feel zen and functional, exactly what I like to achieve in our home. This is the end goal I keep in mind and is what drives me to create a plan of attack, a strategy to get off my butt and tackle a seemingly overwhelming project.
This mindset also applies to food shopping and preparation. I don't always enjoy the planning and preparation bit. Do you ever feel this way? But I am deeply nourished and satisfied by home-cooked, plant-based, whole food meals showing up on my table. I value what they contribute to my health, my sense of well-being and lifestyle of wellness. Living and cooking this way is a non-negotiable for me because I see how each step supports my vision of wellness.
By creating this vision of wellness we enable ourselves to rise above the daily, mundane tasks and apply meaning to planning, shopping, and cooking (and reorganizing bookshelves!). When our tasks are aligned with our values, we will value our tasks.
What does your vision of wellness look like? What action steps are you taking to achieve that vision? (For inspiration check out this post, especially Lissa Rankin's health cairn.)
This red leaf lettuce salad is a great example of how preparing a meal does not have to be time-consuming nor complicated in order to align with our vision of wellness. I will often make salad for dinner. For a well-rounded salad, I keep a few things in mind.
Eastern medicine traditions, specifically the ancient science of Ayurveda, suggests that balancing the six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent, bitter) in a meal supports balance and health in our body, clarity, and helps us to feel nourished and satisfied, thus diminishing cravings. I try to incorporate as many of these tastes as possible and also balance the macronutrients and textures. I've created a quick reference guide for you below. Hope this is helpful when creating your own salads. And in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this red leaf lettuce salad!
Constructing a Salad
*examples are not exhaustive
- Carbs (greens, fresh fruit, dried fruit, leftover grains)
- Protein (legumes, lentils, quinoa, nuts, eggs, tempeh, seeds, cheese)
- Fat (avocado, nuts, cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, other cold-pressed oils such as flax)
- Crunchy (nuts, seeds, lettuce, some vegetables)
- Chewy (dried fruit, some grains, semi-hard/hard cheese, sun-dried tomatoes)
- Creamy (avocado, some beans, cheese)
- Juicy (stone fruit, citrus fruit, tomatoes)
- Sweet (fruit, grain, starchy vegetables, dairy, sugar, honey)
- Salty (salt, soy sauce, sea vegetables)
- Sour (citrus fruit, pickled/fermented food, vinegar)
- Pungent (mustard, black pepper, ginger)
- Astringent (lentils, green apples, grape skins)
- Bitter (dark leafy greens, sprouts, beets)
Red Leaf Lettuce and Nectarine Salad
- 1 nectarine, chopped
- 4-5 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 avocado, chopped
- Semi-hard goats cheese
- Handful pistachios, shelled
- A few handfuls red leaf lettuce, chopped
Whole Grain Mustard Dressing
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
- 1/2 tsp. honey
- Make the dressing in the bottom of a wide bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add salad ingredients on top*, then toss gently with two forks or salad servers.
*If you want to make this 30 minutes or so in advance, add the salad ingredients to the dressing, layering n the order listed. Then toss with dressing when ready to serve. This way lettuce does not get soggy.