Finally Summer has arrived in Ireland! Yay! We’ve been a long time waiting for this and now we have finally have some real heat and sunshine to enjoy. Trust me, when you live in a country where blue skies and temperatures in the 20s are a rarity, you savour every single minute of it you get! The thing is, feeling positive, happy and content is so much easier when the sun is out. Perhaps it has to do with the increase of Vitamin D from the sun? Some recent studies seems to suggest so. This post on the Huff Post refers to a recent study where improvement in symptoms of depression where linked to an increase in Vitamin D. Even though we can take Vitamin D supplements, the best source is the one which is synthesized naturally by our skin. So if the sun is shining where ever you are right now, get out there!
Another great thing about warmer temperatures is that it feels more natural to increase the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. Of course it does, this is the season of abundant fresh green leaves, bright berries and edible flowers! If you are thinking of taking your healthy eating habits to the next level, now is your chance. Perhaps you are even growing a few things in your garden already? Raw fruits and vegetables are bursting with nutrition and health benefits and they are naturally low in calories. This basically means you get more bang for your buck.
I often feel people have this idea that a salad is something you eat when you are on a diet. It is often a sad, uninspiring kind of affair, which you eat purely because “you are being good” and on “a diet”. To top it off, it is probably a pretty small portion too, so an hour later that ice cream you where trying to restrain your self from having earlier is now just irresistible…
This way of thinking makes me so sad, because when you view salads like this you are missing out some fantastic opportunities to do something amazing for your body. Making a salad full of life giving components is actually a great way to reward your body with goodness, so it can keep doing all the things you want it to do. Often if we have spent a long time dieting we can be stuck in what I call “the Dieting Mindset”, where eating healthy foods, some how is seen as “being good” and eating processed foods seen as “being bad”. How about a mindset shift? What if eating nourishing, colourful, fresh foods, from nature is instead viewed as “doing good”? All of a sudden you are treating your body with things which is doing good, making you feel good. No punishment in sight. Makes sense? You know that fussy, warm happy feeling we get when we do something nice for others? Rewarding ourselves with good food is kinda the same thing. So go on, do something good for your body today. And celebrate that summer is here at the same time 🙂
This salad is super simple and I didn’t even bother with a proper salad dressing. It’s a kinda assembly meal and the key to make it taste really good is to use the best and freshest ingredients you can find.
Celebration of Summer Salad
Serves 1 hungry person or 2 people as a side
1 cup mixed green salad leaves, washed
6-7 strawberries, washed, hulled & halved
1 pear, washed & sliced
50g feta cheese (because everything just tastes better with feta!)
10 walnuts, roughly chopped
a handful of sprouted mungbeans – optional
some sage flowers – alternatively add a few fresh leaves of sage, finely chopped &/or other types of edible flowers for an extra kick of colour
a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Place the leaves in a large bowl. Scatter some balsamic vinegar over the leaves to taste. Add in your pear and strawberries. Scatter the mungbean sprouts, walnuts, flowers and crumble the feta over the whole lot. Serve immediately.
* I’ve also made this salad using a ripe peach instead of the pear and switching the walnuts for pecan nuts. It was almost nicer…*
My very first guest post on Straightforward Nutrition! I am so excited to be able to introduce you to Chelsea Hunter, Holistic Health Coach and blogger on The Naked Fig – recipes stripped down the way nature intended. I’ve connected with Chelsea over Instagram. We both feel we share a similar food philosophy and a love of simple yet tasty whole food dishes so doing a guest post on each others blogs made perfect sense. I am delighted to share her recipe and food philosophy with all of you! If you are not yet familiar with The Naked Fig, then I would invite you to hop over to have a look at all the other amazing healthy creations she shares over there. 🙂
Here is my interview with Chelsea Hunter:
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Chelsea Hunter and I am a Holistic Health Coach, creator of The Naked Fig and recipe developer in Atlanta, Ga, USA. Going from a highly processed and toxic diet to eating nourishing whole foods changed my body, mind, and soul for the better. I became a health coach to share the fullness of life I found through healthy eating. Many people believe that health is all about discipline and cutting back. I hope to inspire them to see that healthy eating is about adding in and abundance rather than deprivation. When I’m not working on The Naked Fig, I love to hike, read, practice yoga, and cook for family and friends. I am currently studying to become a yoga teacher and can’t wait to add yoga to my health coaching practice!
What is your food philosophy?
People ask me all the time if I am a vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo, etc. My answer is… that I’m a human! I try not to be dogmatic about food. Eating should be natural and intuitive. I listen to my body and give it what it needs. Different foods affect different people in different ways. What works for one person may not work for you. I simply try to eat the most nourishing foods I can and avoid consuming anything too processed. That said, sometimes a croissant nourishes my soul so much that I don’t worry about how healthy it is. Life is too short to feel guilty about eating!
What is your favorite ingredient to use?
This is a tough one because I have so many favorites. I love adding saffron to recipes. It is so expensive that I have to use it sparingly, but that makes it feel like a treat when I do use it. Plus it adds such a nuanced flavor to seemingly simple dishes. It is an easy way to turn any dish from average to impressive. But I’m also a sucker for anything with avocado, garlic, goat’s cheese, and of course figs!
What is your best advice for living a healthy lifestyle?
The best advice I have is to remember that being healthy is not one big decision, but a lot of little decisions. This means that you have tons of opportunities to make healthy choices every day. Every time you choose an apple over a cookie you are one step closer to being the healthiest version of yourself. Give yourself credit for all the good decisions you make and let go of all the bad ones. I recommend writing down all the little accomplishments at the end of the day. Even on a day you felt you made bad choices, you may be surprised how many times you chose to take care of yourself. (I simply couldn’t agree more with this! )
Who inspires you to live a healthy lifestyle?
One of the biggest inspirations for me has been using Instagram. Following healthy and happy people, such as Linn, keeps healthy living on my mind all day. I see so many delicious healthy recipes that I don’t even think about junk food. Out of sight out of mind works in reverse. Keep healthy food in sight. Surround yourself with positive messages about health!
In addition to Straightforward Nutrition, I follow other blogs such as My New Roots, Earthsprout, Green Kitchen Stories and Golubka. These sites have a wealth of nutrition information and some of the most delicious recipes!
Thank you, Linn, for letting me share this recipe! (Note that it is pretty perfect for us here in Ireland and the love of Turnips that people seem to have! Another, tastier, way to enjoy this commonly found root veggie)
Turnip Oven Fries with Avocado Dip
2 turnips, sliced into thin fries
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cloves garlic
1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1/8 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius). If your coconut oil is solid, gently melt it in a skillet. Place sliced turnips in a large bowl. Pour most of the oil over the turnips saving a little for cooking the garlic. Use your hands to coat the turnips with oil. Spread the fries out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes flipping the turnips half way.
While the fries bake, cook the garlic in the remaining oil over medium heat until soft (about 4 minutes). Put avocado, cooked garlic, mustard, salt, and lemon juice in a bowl and mash using the back of a fork or a mortar and pestle.
Generously salt and pepper the turnips fries to taste and serve with avocado dipping sauce. Enjoy!
If you want to read a bit more about my food philosophy and the recipe I shared, hop over to The Naked Fig and read more about it here!