healthy

"Psychedelic" Salad

Maintaining a food blog is a lot like working out; if you take a break, it's hard to start again. I know a lot about both. I love cooking and photography; both allow me to explore my creative side. It was that enjoyment and my desire to share healthy recipes that got me to start this food blog. This past summer was really exciting. We started a small garden, started raising our own chickens and I found myself training for my first 5k! Despite my best intentions of sharing more recipes throughout the summer, as you can tell. It just didn't happen. Without trying to explain myself, or make excuses, I'm simply going to say that there is a lot of work that goes into pulling a post together after the dish is prepare, and frankly, I didn't make that a priority.

But, I'm back and resolved to start sharing recipes again! No surprise, with the start of the New Year, I'm refocusing on my health. I started the year off detoxing and eating completely clean. I haven't even had a drink since New Years Eve! I got back to a fitness regiment and signed up for a 15 class January yoga challenge. Last Saturday, after my 8am Vinyasa class I stopped by for the opening day of a Winter Farmer's Market hosted by a local garden center.

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This was exactly what I needed to start getting inspired again. I arrived about a half hour early, while the vendors were still setting up. It was a smart move because I got to scout out who was going to be there that week, and give myself enough time to line up for Red Fire Farm's stand, who sells amazing produce. Within a few minutes I scored some brussel sprouts, mixed lettuce, purple kale and butternut squash. I then quickly got in line to get some root vegetables from Winter Moon Roots.

I don't like to pick favorites, but of all the vendors that I've seen at the market since I started going two years ago, Winter Moon Roots has one of the most alluring set-ups. Their root vegetables range the full color spectrum, and the bright colors of the beets and carrots pull you in. Not only do they have a wide array of roots themselves (from parsnips to potatoes to turnips to radishes and more), they carry several varieties of each.

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Cleverly they slice open the produce to reveal the beauty inside. This week I couldn't help but pick up some cool looking "Psychedelic" or Chioggia beets. Inspiration for this winter salad instantly came after seeing the name and colors. I couldn't wait to go home and whip up my lunch. It's worth noting that the only thing "psychedelic" about these beets are their cool colors; they are not going to make you "trip"!

Salads are usually easy dishes to pull together, but when making a beet salad, you do have to account for the time it takes to roast your beets.  As soon as I returned home, I got my oven preheated, washed the beet I was going to use for the recipe, splashed it with some oil, wrapped it in foil and threw it in the oven. Cooking time varies greatly depending on the size of your beet, but I knew mine would need to roast for about 40 mins. Rather than wait around, that gave me plenty of time to unload my groceries, wash and prep my other produce for that week, and tidy up around the kitchen.

Around the 40 min mark , I checked the doneness of the beet with a knife. It should be easy to puncture, as if you were checking on a baked potato. Pull it out of the oven and let it cool slightly before handling. With a pairing knife, gently scrape the outside skin. It will peel away easily. Discard. Slice or chop your beet however you choose. My beet was large enough that I saved half of it for other salads later in week. As it finished cooling I started assembling the salad.

I started with super fresh mixed greens from the market - I especially like how there were varying shades of greens and some pops of reddish purple from the red leaf lettuce. To add another punch of color to play with the ruby colored beets, I shaved some red cabbage. I've talked a lot about beets, and while they inspired this salad, I didn't want them to be the star. No, they'd share the stage (or plate) with bright segments of orange.

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Oranges are one of those fruits that make getting through the winter a lot easier. They are a great reminder of warmer months ahead and packs a heavy punch of Vitamin-C, not to mention they taste delicious!  You'll have to feel comfortable with your knife skills to segment out your orange, but after watching a quick video, I realized how easy it was.

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Greens, beets, citrus.... I needed some fat! Yes, all salads need, no, deserve a healthy fat. Avocado was going to be the perfect healthy fat for this salad. It was going to have the perfect creaminess to pair with the citrus notes from the orange segments and the vinaigrette (besides, I am partial to avocado). Seeds are also a great source of healthy fat for salads, and since I also wanted some crunch, I sprinkled on some unsalted pumpkin seeds I had on hand.

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And lastly, the dressing; a bright citrus vinaigrette to bring all the flavors together. Dressing is way to easy to make, so if you are still looking for a resolution this year, try to start making homemade dressing. Classic vinaigrette use equal parts oil to vinegar or something else acidic. My dressings usually use more vinegar and citrus juices, which pack big flavor without a lot of calories, than oil making mine 1 part oil to 2 parts vinegar. But there is really no way to mess it up. I took some extra virgin olive oil and added it to a small mason jar. Then I squeezed the leftover orange juice, plus juice of a lemon to give it a rounded citrus flavor. Finally I added a splash of white wine vinegar and a touch of salt and pepper. I covered the jar and gave it a shake to emulsify the dressing.

When I make dressings, I'll make them in small batches. I only needed about 1-2 tablespoons for a single serving of my salad, leaving me with extra for other salads throughout the week.

So there you have it! A beautifully bright and balanced salad with earthy beets, sweet oranges and creamy avocado to put a smile on your face in the dead of winter!

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Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 medium to large size Chioggia beet, roasted and sliced
  • 2 organic navel oranges, segmented
  • 1 cup shaved red cabbage
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 4 cups of mixed organic greens of your choice

Citrus Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice from orange (after being segmented)
  • 1-2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Beets

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Clean beets, leaving skin on, wrap in foil.
  • Bake for 30-50 mins depending on size of beet until tender.
  • Remove and let cool. Once you can easily handle the beet, use a pairing knife to scrape of the skin.
  • Slice or chop to desired size.

Citrus Dressing

  • In a small mason jar, add all the ingredients for the dressing and shake vigorously to emulsify. Use the dressing throughout the week for future meals.

Assembling the salad

  • Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl. Add 3-4 tbs of the dressing* and toss.
  • *If you are saving half of the salad for a meal later in the week, store without the dressing. Just use 1-2 tablespoons for a single serving.

Roasted Beet Hummus

The first post I'll be sharing is a recipe from another blog, Minimalist Baker. I choose to share this recipe for Roasted Beet Hummus because it was this recipe and blog that set me on the road to starting my own food blog. Incorporating beets into a hummus was an exceptionally clever idea and is a great way to introduce a seemingly strange vegetable into you diet.

Earlier this summer, I joined a CSA program with Warner Farms to start incorporating more fresh veggies into my diet. I absolutely loved it. Each week I picked up my farm share, I felt like a contestant on the Food Network show "Chopped", receiving a "mystery box" full of ingredients. I was challenged each week to use all the fresh produce in meals that both myself and husband would enjoy. The farm share really sparked my creativity and fueled my growing passion of cooking.

I knew I'd be receiving lots of vegetables I hadn't tried before. I grew up a pretty picky eater, which was one of the reasons I was struggling to get good nutrition into my diet. When I joined the CSA, I made a commitment to myself to stay open minded and try everything it had to offer. One of the first strange ingredients we got were beets.

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Warner Farms sent out a weekly newsletter and this week they included few recipes to give us ideas how to use our beets. A link to  Minimalist Baker's Roasted Beet Hummus drew me with beautiful photography, capturing the bright pink hue of the hummus off set by the orange carrots and green cucumbers. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I just had to try it for myself.

I explored her site and found it was filled with lots of amazing and simple recipes. She also had another thing that caught my attention, food photography e-courses and blogging resources. I'd taken several photography classes in high school and already considered it to be a hobby of mine, but needed some refreshers along with some food styling tips. The cost of the class was the best $19.99 I spent in a long time. It planted the seeds for this very here food blog!

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While the farm share sparked my creativity with cooking, Minimalist Baker rekindled my interest in photography. The two passions came together serendipitously with this here recipe. It only seemed right I feature it as my first post.

So without further adieu, lets talk about roasted beet hummus!

If you are unfamiliar with beets, to sum it up, they are a root vegetable that come in a variety of colors, but most often, a deep ruby. What a lot of people don't know is that beets are a super food. They are packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid. They are excellent at cleansing/detoxifying the body, and are a high source of energy. They are just too good for you not to have if you are looking to have a mindful eating lifestyle.

A great way to introduce yourself to beets is by mixing or blending them with other foods - which makes this recipe perfect. I don't think beets have a very strong taste as it is, but if you are worried about it, the lemon and the garlic in this dish become the most prominent flavors.

Simply, roast a few fresh beets, peel and dice. Add them to a food processor along with garlic, lemon juice and ingredients you'd find in a traditional hummus, like chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) and olive oil and blend! The end result is a bright and garilc-y hummus perfect for dipping veggies or a spread in a sandwich.

The deep red hues of the beets turn the hummus bright pink making the dish a real show stopper. What a perfect dip for a bridal shower, bachelorette party or baby shower! Impress all you friends and bring it to your next cocktail party.

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Ingredients

  • 2-3 Small Beets, roasted and peeled
  • 2 15oz cans of garbanzo/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 5 garlic cloves (I like mine to have a strong garlic taste)
  • 3-4 tbs tahini
  • About a 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

  • Roast the beets ahead of time. Rinse the beets and cut off the stems. Wrap them in foil and roast in a 375°F oven for 50-60 mins. Let cool before handling and peel with a pairing knife.
  • Add cooled, roasted beets in food processor. Pulse to break up .
  • Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic and tahini and blend until smooth.
  • Lastly, slowly drizzle in olive oil, while blending, until you reach the desired consistency.

Nutritional Info per original site

1 serving has Calories: 165 Fat: 12 g Carbohydrates: 12 g Sugar: 1.2 g Fiber: 2.6 g Protein: 3.4