My Ultimate Salad

 

Ultimate Salad 10 The Curvy Carrot

 

Happy Salad Month!  Did you know that May is National Salad Month?  (I didn’t either.)  But thanks to my good friends over at Earthbound Farm, we are celebrating all month!

And I have a confession.  I’m not really a salad eater.  I’d like to think I am, really.  I loved the days back in the college dorm where there was an endless salad bar-where I would inevitably load up three pieces of iceberg lettuce with three different types of cheese, croutons, *maybe* a radish or other vegetable, and a giant ladle-full of ranch dressing.  Hello, freshman 15!!!   But, as I told myself (I realize now that denial is one of the strongest human emotions), it still was “a salad” so it was good for me, right?  Yep.  Denial.

But, as I’ve gotten older and (hopefully) wiser, I’m realizing that a salad doesn’t have to be some limp watery iceberg covered in high density calories.  It can be an excellent source of fuel to power me through some pretty long days-and it’s a perfect vessel in which to diversify my diet.  When I visited Earthbound Farm back in October 2013, we actually worked on an activity together to devise the perfect salad, asking ourselves what made a salad “good”.

What makes a salad “good” to you?

To me, the greens are pretty important.  And, after visiting Earthbound, I realized I would have to move out of my comfort zone of simple spinach (yes-besides kale, it’s probably one of the most nutrient-dense greens around.)  I could experiment with some peppery arugula, crunchy romaine, or even try a blend of different leaves for some variation (have your tried a Zen blend yet? Pretty fantastic.)  For this salad, I chose that peppery arugula to offset the creaminess/sweetness of some of the other ingredients.

I also need a hint of sweetness in the form of fruit of some kind.  I know some people have an aversion to fruit in their salads, but I’m a convert (ever since I experienced raisins on my salad at Pizza Hut when I was about 5 years old.  Gotta love that Pizza Hut salad bar, too.)  I decided to run with blueberries-the motherload of antioxidants and vitamins K and C.

Now, for something crunchy.  Walnuts.  Yes, toasted walnuts will work (or any other kind of nut, really.)  But walnuts look like little brains for a reason-they are literally “brain food”.  High in omega-3 fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamin E, these little guys provide protein and super brain protection (which we all need).

Something creamy, perhaps?  Sliced avocado will do the trick.  I know that there are some people out there that avoid avocados for their fat content, but it’s mostly “good” fat.  Putting avocado on your salad will also increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and other compounds-like lycopene, which is found in tomatoes.  Wonder why guacamole and tomatoes go so well together?  It’s like a little nudge from Mother Nature to make sure we get the nutrients we need by pairing these things together.

And I need something earthy, too, like some roasted beets.  You can prepare yours any way you like, but I actually salt-roasted mine (recipes to come in later posts….).  Beets are good for your liver.

Last but not least, I had to write about halloumi.  Ah, halloumi.  Probably my second most favorite food in the world (second to these cakes made by a bakery in my hometown).   The cheese you can fry.  Salty, buttery, and a bit chewy.  Halloumi makes anything taste better.  For other recipes with halloumi, click here or here.  You can put any cheese on this salad (a smooth, creamy goat cheese would be nice), and, obviously, for a vegan version, just omit the cheese.

Happy Salad Month, everyone.

 Ultimate Salad 8 The Curvy Carrot

 

 

My Ultimate Salad

Servings:  4 large salads

 

Ingredients

For the salad:

One 5-ounce package (bag or clamshell) of Earthbound Farm arugula

2-3 medium beets, roasted and sliced thinly

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup walnuts, toasted

1/2 avocado (or more, depending on your personal tastes), sliced thinly

Halloumi cheese, sliced and fried

For the dressing:

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Salt, to taste

 

Instructions

1. For the salad dressing:  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and honey, mixing until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt.

2. Transfer the salad greens to a large bowl and drizzle with the salad dressing (you don’t have to use all of it.).  Toss the arugula gently to coat evenly with the dressing.

3. Divide the salad evenly among your serving bowls and top with the roasted beets, blueberries, toasted walnuts, avocado, and cheese.

 

 

Source:  A Curvy Carrot original.

May 1, 2014 - 5:18 am

Jo from yummyvege - You learn something everyday! Guess anything’s a good excuse to eat more salad!

May 1, 2014 - 8:40 am

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - I love this kind of stuff in salads too! I’m new to Halloumi, but this sounds perfect!

May 2, 2014 - 1:47 am

Carol at Wild Goose Tea - I had no idea that May was National Salad month. Personally I love salad in all its glorious forms—and that includes fruit in green salads. You certainly put together an elegant beautiful salad. I would be very pleased to eat it.

May 4, 2014 - 2:50 pm

Joanne - I totally agree with your ultimate salad analysis. I need something creamy, sweet, crunchy, and cheesy in mine as well! And your mix-in choices sound pretty delectable.

May 5, 2014 - 11:42 am

Helen @ Scrummy Lane - I love how you’ve presented this cute little salad. You have quite a few of my favourite foods in there, too, so I’m definitely impressed (& feeling smug because I like such healthy foods!)

May 19, 2014 - 10:03 pm

Emma - Ahh gorgeous, I LOVE halloumi. This salad looks like such a nice combination of flavors and textures… a little bit of everything!

Guacamole (A Curvy Carrot Remix)

 Guacamole 6 The Curvy Carrot

 

You know you’ve been blogging for a while when you realize that every time you see an old photo from a very early post, you have a visceral reaction.  Like, a visceral reaction that’s a mix of sappy sentimentality and an uncomfortable realization that I thought the photos looked good enough to publish online.

That being said, there’s still a lot of photos that I personally feel are cringe-worthy, but if it’s a good enough recipe, then I would much rather publish it and move on.  And, I do believe that a blog is somewhat of a diary to us, so looking back, there’s an opportunity to see growth and change over a longer timeline.  The nice thing about having a blog-really, probably one of the best things-is that I still can tell you where I was (physically, emotionally, spiritually) when I wrote the post.  You see the pictures of guacamole, but I see a snapshot of my life.

When I wrote the old guacamole post, I was in physical and emotional limbo-living with my parents in my late 20′s because I was going through a pretty emotionally draining divorce, living from paycheck to paycheck (I got down to $2 once in my bank account-talk about major stress!), and secretly borrowing clothes from my younger sister.  Now, I’m in a city I love where I found my dream job, I’m in a wonderful relationship with someone I really care about, and I’m actually able to save a bit of money at the end of the month.  And, when my sister comes to visit, she raids MY closet.

So things change.  The yin and yang of life.  Ebb and flow.  Good and bad.  Not that that time was a BAD part of my life, but I wouldn’t want to revisit it in any form.  I’ve grown up a lot since then, and I would like to go back and give that old part of me a great big hug.  I’d like to tell the old me that things will get better with time and that, almost four years later, I would be re-doing this recipe because I’d still have this blog and a love for all things related to food.  It’s kind of a warm and fuzzy feeling.

 

Guacamole 3 The Curvy Carrot

 

 

Guacamole (A Curvy Carrot Remix)

Servings:  makes 2-3 cups or so

 

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 avocados

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion (dependent on how much you like onion)

1 large ripe tomato, chopped (I used about 3/4 cup)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Juice of one lime (or to taste)

 

Guacamole 1 The Curvy Carrot

 

 

Instructions

1.  Place minced garlic into a large bowl.

2. Peel and remove pits from avocados.  Add avocado to the bowl with the garlic and mash together until you reach your desired consistency.

3. Add chopped onions to avocado/garlic mixture and mix with spoon.

4. Add tomatoes and mix gently with spoon.

5.  Add remaining spices/salts and lime juice, and stir well, adjusting to taste.

 

Source:  A Curvy Carrot original.

April 29, 2014 - 6:51 pm

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - haha, I have the same reaction to my old posts, buuuuut they’re there. And they’re super fun to bring back. I love guacamole more than anyyyything! It’s so good. Always. And this recipe looks perfect!

April 29, 2014 - 6:56 pm

Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl - You can NEVER go wrong with a good guac recipe. I love the spices that you added to this!

April 30, 2014 - 10:35 am

Helen @ Scrummy Lane - Well, first of all I’ve only discovered your blog recently but am really enjoying it. Secondly, these photos are beautiful! It must be amazing to see where you’ve come from since the first post. I just started blogging at the beginning of this year and already have a couple of photos that I know will be clangy cringers later on … lol! But you’re right, it’s a diary of our lives and that’s very beautiful. :-)

May 1, 2014 - 5:00 am

My Ultimate Salad » The Curvy Carrot - [...] of fat-soluble vitamins and other compounds-like lycopene, which is found in tomatoes.  Wonder why guacamole and tomatoes go so well together?  It’s like a little nudge from Mother Nature to make sure [...]

May 1, 2014 - 9:00 pm

Joanne - It really is crazy how I can remember exactly what was going on in my life when I wrote each post…definitely the benefit of having a blot! It’s so nice to look back and see how things have changed…for the better :).

May 18, 2014 - 4:05 pm

Awesome and Easy Guacamole Recipes | The Recipe Blog - [...] publish it and move on. And, I do believe that a blog is somewhat of a diary to us, …… Guacamole (A Curvy Carrot Remix) » The Curvy Carrot 5.CHIC EATS: Easy Guacamole [RECIPE] – News One Need to know the best way to make [...]

Almond Joy Chia Smoothies

Almond Joy Smoothie5 The Curvy Carrot

Smoothie time.

I have recently fallen in love with a chocolate almond milk-it’s like a secret treat in my fridge.  I’ve been eating it with cereal, in oatmeal, or even just plain (I never was a big milk drinker, even as a kid, so, for me, a whole glass of this stuff is a big deal.)  It’s also an incredibly good post-workout fuel.

Anyways, since I had some extra coconut flakes on hand from making these cupcakes recently, I figured I would try to come up with another breakfast smoothie recipe.  Inspired by one of my all-time favorite smoothie recipes ever, I decided to use some silken tofu as the base (Please don’t shy away from tofu.  I know it’s kind of icky looking and feeling, but if it’s prepared well, it’s really fantastic.)  Plus, knowing that I wanted a thicker, creamier texture, I figured adding the tofu might help.  And, of course, I added in some chia seeds….because smoothies are pretty much a perfect vessel (see here or here) for getting these little nutritional powerhouses in my system (otherwise, they just sit in my pantry, untouched.)  As a side note, though, if you’re not familiar with using the chia seeds, they will thicken relatively quickly and form almost a pudding-like consistency of whatever liquid you put them in.  So, if you don’t plan on drinking the smoothies right away, I would hold off on putting them in until you are ready.  I also used a sweetened chocolate almond milk and an unsweetened coconut milk beverage, so you can play around with the sweetness component here as well.

I played with this recipe and adjusted everything to taste as I went along.  Now, some people might have textural issues, but I actually like my smoothies to be thick and kind of chunky, in a way.  So I added in some toasted almonds and flaked coconut to the liquid base before I blended it-I personally really liked the addition of those things here, but I realize it’s not for everyone.  For a vegan version, substitute a vegan-friendly protein powder.

Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy your dessert-like chocolate drink.

 

 Almond Joy Smoothie2 The Curvy Carrot

 

Almond Joy Chia Smoothies

Servings: 2

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup silken tofu

3/4 cup sweetened chocolate almond milk (I used Almond Breeze.)

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage (I used So Delicious Dairy Free)

1 scoop (1-2 tablespoons) vanilla protein powder (I used whey protein.)

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1-2 tablespoons chia seeds, depending on your desired thickness/consistency

2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

For the topping:  toasted almonds, coconut, and bittersweet chocolate shavings

 

Almond Joy Smoothie4 The Curvy Carrot

Instructions

1. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy.

 

Source:  A Curvy Carrot original.

April 24, 2014 - 6:21 am

Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) - They look so decadent, you’d never think something so delicious could be so healthy!

April 25, 2014 - 1:07 am

65 Healthy Vegetarian Snack Ideas - [...] Almond Joy Chia Smoothie - The Curvy Carrot [...]

April 25, 2014 - 4:32 am

Jo from yummyvege - They look delicious!

April 25, 2014 - 9:40 am

Helen @ Scrummy Lane - I’m not particularly a smoothie-lover, but what I do love is the idea of letting this get all thick from the chia seeds and eating it like a pudding (haven’t tried using chia seeds yet but really got to!) Great idea to use choccy almond milk in something like this, too.

April 28, 2014 - 6:41 pm

Annie - These look fab! I have been wanting to make a smoothie with similar flavors but now I may just have to try this one instead!

April 29, 2014 - 10:33 am

Joanne - As a fellow almond milk obsessed gal, I am so excited for these! I recently bought excess dried coconut for a recipe that didn’t end up working out and need some way to use it up…foresee many of these in my future!