Last week we were in Sardinia celebrating our 10 (!) year anniversary. We enjoyed lots of sun and sea. And we indulged in quite a bit of fresh homemade pasta and tasting platters of raw Sardinian sheep and goat's milk cheese. These were luxurious meals because one, I don't....Read More
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.
This is a no-fuss rustic nectarine tart to match the casual mood of the remaining summer days. It's not summer in my opinion without one of these. Yes, there's dough-making involved, but it's a simple, free-form dough that's fitting for summer. And it's the kind of soft and slightly flaky dough I feel works really well in a rustic tart. Nectarines are fabulous here at the moment, and although they were great on this Bircher muesli, I wanted to make sure they were the star of the show before summer got away. But if peaches or plums are better where you are, they would work well here too.
Nectarine Galette with Sour Cream Pastry
Notes: Other flours or an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend may be substituted in the pastry. However, regular whole wheat flour will be too heavy and should not be used. The almond flour layer is important because it absorbs juice from the nectarines and prevents the dough from becoming soggy.
Sour Cream Pastry
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup light spelt flour
- Heaping 1/4 tsp. salt
- 4 Tbsp. cold butter (56 gr), cut into chunks (or cold coconut oil)
- 1/4 cup sour cream (or full-fat yogurt)
- 1 Tbsp. almond oil (or other mild oil)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1/4 cup ice water
Almond Flour Layer
- 2 Tbsp. almond flour/meal
- 2 tsp. arrowroot (or cornstarch)
- 1 Tbsp. muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
- Pinch salt
Notes: If your nectarines are not very sweet you may need to add more sugar
- 3 medium, ripe but firm nectarines, sliced (6-8 slices per nectarine)
- 2 Tbsp. muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
- 3 tsp. arrowroot (or all-purpose flour)
- Splash almond extract
- Zest from 1/2 lemon
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Apricot or peach jam (optional)
- Sour cream or yogurt, sweetened with maple syrup and almond extract (optional)
- Dough: Add flours and salt to a food processor and pulse once to combine. Add butter and pulse several times until the mixture is sandy. Add sour cream, oil, and maple syrup and blend until just combined. Then blend in 1 tablespoon of water at a time until mixture starts to come together. You may not have to use all the water. I had to, but altitude, humidity level, etc. will affect this. The dough won't form a ball but if you press dough together between your fingers it should be moist enough to stick together. When this happens, pour contents out onto a large piece of plastic wrap, knead just to form a ball, then wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Prepare almond flour mixture by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl. Prepare nectarine filling in a medium bowl by gently tossing sliced nectarines with remaining ingredients. Set aside.
- Assemble: Once dough has chilled, unwrap the plastic and place dough on a piece of parchment paper (or baking mat). Place the plastic over the dough and roll it out in a rough circle, approximately 10-10 1/2 inches in diameter (or ~ 1/8 inch thick). Transfer parchment paper with dough onto a baking sheet. Spread the almond flour evenly over center of the dough, leaving a 2 inch border. Then place nectarines on top of the almond flour, in whichever organized or non-organized fashion you desire, overlapping slightly. Fold edges of the dough up and over the filling, overlapping dough as you go.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Remove and brush crush with jam (optional). Let tart rest for 5 minutes before cutting. Serve with sour cream or yogurt, if desired.