When it comes to eating in changing seasons there are a few important things to keep in mind. One of my favorite things about living and cooking in the Northern California Bay Area is constantly changing weather and abundant produce varieties. If you head into SF in August, you may need your parka, and if you drive over the Golden Gate bridge into Marin, your tank top and flip-flops will likely do you right. Recently the Bay Area has seen extreme heat followed by quick cooling and then heating up again, and more cooling. Behind the heatwave, I can feel summer sliding into fall. Summer harvest is still alive in the farmers market yet it feels just a bit different, few berries, more figs and grapes, and the first sightings of apples and pears.
Because the weather is more volatile, our bodies work to adjust and maintain balance. Going quickly from hot to cold can be cause for becoming out of balance (aka getting sick) So if late summer heat has you craving frozen treats at night and then suddenly cold weather sets in, you need to be ready to adjust your eating habits accordingly.
As the weather changes, so do our emotional states. Ever notice how a warm sunny day can fill you with delight for no reason and a cloudy, thunder and rain sky can put you in touch with your moody side? Changing seasons means change is literally "in the air" so expect your emotions to move as well. Of course our emotions always change, that's their nature, however seasons mark endings and beginnings so whatever the summer season brought or didn't bring you, you may feel your feelings about that surfacing now. Pay attention. Transitions can bring all kinds of feelings and feelings can dramatically shift our food choices so be sure to stay hydrated and plan your food to support your physical and emotional stability.
Eating with the changing season is a wonderful way to honor change. The natural cycles of earth, weather, our bodies and our emotions can be easily supported through our food choices. Additionally, creating regular meal times can be a nourishing ritual that further supports physical and emotional stability. Celebrate this seasonal shift by shopping for locally grown, organic produce that appeals to you. When you plan and eat your food connect to the larger cycles of change occurring and let that connection to food, your body, and the earth nourish you well into the Fall season.
As a Natural Chef and Health Coach, I'm always thinking about what new recipes, meal prep ideas, and food processes would inspire people to improve their eating habits and experience more vibrant energy. My focus is on simple, delicious, health-supportive and seasonal rather than complex, multi-step, and exotic because I want you to actually be able to do this for yourself and experience the powerful benefits of clean eating.
Enter The Sexy Salad -it's seasonal (so you're not bored), highly nourishing (so you feel great), and super delicious (so you're super satisfied). For these Sexy Salad recipes, I play with seasonal ingredients, using both cooked and raw fruits and veggies to create salad magic. I add in high quality fats, oils, live probiotic-rich vinegar, nuts, seeds, legumes and some animal proteins along with superfoods to get things so very sexy. Hope you enjoy, are inspired to try these recipes, and make your own creations too.
Let's get your cooking on!
Peach, Roasted Corn and Arugula Salad with Almond Cheese and Basil
In order to win at this salad make sure your peaches are ripe and flavorful! Use ingredients that are as fresh and as organic as possible to get the full potential.
4 cups arugula, washed and dried
1 ripe peach, beautifully sliced
1 ear of corn, skillet roasted
4-5 tablespoons Almond Cheese
2 tablespoons basil leaves, chiffonade cut
Lemon, White Balsamic and Olive Oil Vinaigrette
Recipes and Procedures
To Make the Almond Cheese:
1 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt (add more at the end to taste)
1-2 tablespoons fresh herbs (for this recipe I used fresh sage however thyme, rosemary and chives are great options too. note: if using chives do not blend in, rather fine dice and stir in by hand once cheese is processed to avoid a greenish cheese.
Probiotic powder from 1 probiotic capsule
Soak almonds in cold water up to 24 hours for more digestible, smoother cheese. Drain, rinse well, and remove skins (yes this step takes a long time so, to make it go faster, pour boiling water over the soaked and rinsed almonds, the peels will come off very easily.)
In food processor, puree almonds, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and herbs. Slowly add approximately 1/3 -1/2 cup of cold water. Stop intermittently to scrape down sides of food processor with a spatula. Add in the probiotic powder. Process for about 6 minutes or until desired texture is reached. Should be like a paste. Stores well in clean glass jar in refrigerator up to 6 days.
To Make the Skillet Roasted Corn: (you can skip this step and simply shave raw kernels off the cob, however roasting the corn adds a touch of delicious smokiness and more flavor/textural dimension to the salad)
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Break 1 ear of corn in half and place the pieces directly into the skillet. sprinkle with a touch of sea salt. Roast over medium high heat until slightly browned and then rotate corn to brown another section, repeat 1-2 more times until you have some good browning action happening here. Note: your skillet will likely be smoking and the corn hissing a bit, so pay attention). Turn flame off and let corn cool a bit before shaving kernels off the cob.
To Make the Lemon, White Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette :
Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, zest of l lemon, and approximately 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small jar. whisk together vigorously with a fork or whisk to emulsify.
To Assemble the Sexy Salad:
Arrange arugula on your serving plate or plates of choice. Add beautiful peach slices, spoonfuls of almond cheese and corn kernels in a way that is artfully pleasing to the eye. drizzle with dressing and garnish with basil.
Note: to add more protein for a perfectly wonderful lunch of dinner I recommend grilled chicken breast, good quality sliced roasted turkey meat or smoked trout.
Kale and Watermelon Radish Crunch (the perfect pre-prepped lunch bowl)
This Sexy Salad is a winner for pre-prep and on-the-go lunch bowls. All the ingredients are hearty and can stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days, enough to get you through your work week or weekend when you do not want to put time into your food prep.
1 bunch green curly leaf kale (you can use any kale of your choice), torn into bite size pieces
1 watermelon radish, julienne cut (a mandoline aka vegetable slicer is a must here for time efficiency and beautiful cuts, clean edges also create less surface oxidization so the veggie will stay fresher longer)
1 red onion, quick pickled
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chiffonade cut
Balsamic Lime Olive Oil Vinaigrette
Recipes and Procedure
To Quick-Pickle the Red Onion: Peel and slice your onion into thin 1/2 rounds (using a mandoline here is a great idea for time efficiency and consistency). Place sliced onion in a small mixing bowl and barely cover with cold water. Add in apple cider vinegar. Let sit for minimum 20 minutes. Drain liquid from onions, give them a quick rinse and then allow to air dry a bit or use a paper towel of dry cloth to remove excess moisture. Set aside.
To Prepare and Massage the Kale: Throughly wash kale leaves. Strip leaves from stems by firmly holding the sturdy kale stem in one hand and stripping the leaves of with the other hand, using thumb and forefinger.) Dry kale leaves well (using a salad spinner is time saving here). Tear kale into bite sized pieces and place in large mixing bowl. Add a healthy drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of sea salt to the kale and begin massaging kale with your hands (make sure your hands are washed prior to this step). Massage for about 3 minutes, or until kale softens and green color brightens to the surface. (If your kale is a bit older it may have some bitterness, not to worry, much of this will breakdown in the massaging process, sound familiar?).
To Toast the Pumpkin Seeds: Preheat oven to 350F. Toast pumpkin seeds on parchment-lined baking tray about 8 minutes. Use your keen sense of smell, careful not to burn.
To Prep the Watermelon Radish: Scrub radish well and remove and stuck dirt or rough spots. Slice in half and julienne with a mandoline for best results. Alternately, slice in half with a sharp knife and then into thin 1/2 rounds, then julienne (slivers).
To make Balsamic Lime Olive Oil Vinaigrette: Combine juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, lime zest, sea salt and black pepper. Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil with a whisk or fork to emulsify. Adjust to taste accordingly.
To Assemble the Sexy Salad:
Place kale in desired bowl or bowls of choice. Add in radish slivers and red onions. Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with plenty of fresh mint and pumpkin seeds.
Note: This Sexy Salad gets super delicious with added sliced avocado and a soft/hard boiled farm fresh egg. For best results, store quick-pickle onions separately from the kale/radish mix.
Smoky Black Lentil Late Summer Salad
This Sexy Salad is earthy and satisfying especially when lentils and sweet potatoes are just a touch warm. This makes a great light dinner meal.
1 1/2 cups cooked Black Lentil (Beluga lentils)
1 Sweet Potato, artfully sliced into bite sized 1/4 rounds and roasted
1-2 Persian Cucumbers, chopped
2-3 seasonal peppers, deseeded and sliced thin (use any color you want to make the salad pop)
Ripe Heirloom Tomato (I used several small sized Early Girls)
3-4 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2-4 cups arugula, washed and dried
Smoky 'n Spicy Miso Tahini Dressing
Gomasio garnish (optional)
RECIPES AND PROCEDURES
To make the Black Lentils: (or you can use canned) Soak 1 cup black lentil in water plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar overnight. Drain off water and rinse well. Place soaked lentils in small stock pot, cover with water and bring to a slow rolling boil, check at 20 and again at 25 minutes. (Alternately, use a pressure cooker or Instapot, they'll be done so super fast.) Be careful not to over cook the lentils because you want them to maintain their color and shape!
To Roast Sweet Potato:
Preheat oven to 375F. Scrub sweet potato well and slice into 1/4 rounds that will become bite sized once roasted. Lightly coat with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast on a parchment-lined baking tray for about 25 minutes. Ideally you get some golden crips browning color happening, which also enhances flavor.
To Make the Smoky 'n Spicy Miso Tahini Dressing:
Combine 2 tablespoons Light Brown or Light Red Miso with 2 tablespoons Tahini and 1 tablespoons lemon juice. Add 1 garlic clove (minced), zest of 1 lemon, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp smoked paprika and sprinkle of red chili flakes. Adjust all ingredients to taste accordingly (you may need to add more water, a touch of vinegar, do whatever needed to get this dressing delicious!)
To Assemble the Sexy Salad:
Arrange a bed of arugula on a serving plate. In medium sized mixing bowl combine lentils, cucumbers, peppers, parsley and toss to combine. Add in some dressing and coat ingredients evenly. Add tomatoes and sweet potatoes and gently combine, being mindful not to smash them. Spoon lentil mix over bed of arugula and drizzle with more dressing. Garnish with gomasio (toasted crushed sesame seeds, salt and spices) if desired. (check out www.juneseedfoods.com)
Note: This Sexy Salad stores well and can be made in large batches for a happy crowd. Just be sure to store arugula separately from the lentil mix. Extra dressing can also be stored separately and added as eaten. Enjoy.