Buds have started to emerge on the tips of tree branches and the clouds of delicate cherry blossom flowers have brought a visual brightness to the streets. The iris and tulip bulbs are pushing shoots up through the dirt and the grass is beginning to once again turn green. Our mornings are still dark and cold, but spring is here once the sun peeks through the clouds.
This past New Moon has inspired me to tap out of my everyday go-go-go routine and has moved me towards self-reflection. I am concentrating on planting seeds of thought for where I want to take myself over the next few months and contemplating how I may get there. My focus has not only been internal, but external as well. Paying attention to the surrounding changes in nature and slowly changing what nourishes my body with less spiced warming dishes and more light and energizing food.
So with all of this in mind, I give to you a warm salad inspired by that time in between seasons. Not quite winter, yet not quite spring. The key to this salad is the crunch of the chickpeas and toasted coconut in contrast to the tenderness of the lightly steamed greens. Very warming and filling while still embodying the anticipation of spring. I especially love the Maple-Avo Dijon Dressing, as it uses avocado as a creamy alternative to mayo or any other oil. Don’t get me wrong, I love olive oil but in comparison to all of the healthy benefits that avocados have to offer, I more often than not opt to go the avocado route. Avocados are filled with monounsaturated fats – the good kind – and polyunsaturated fats, otherwise known as omega-3’s. As a person who doesn’t rely on fish oil supplements as their main source of omega’s, I look more towards incorporating whole foods with higher levels of polyunsaturated fats into my plant-based diet as much as possible; Hence, my love for anything avocado, or flaxseed, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, walnut, etc.
And by the way, has anybody else been running into a lot of buzz on kale and it’s negative interaction with the thyroid? Do not get too scared – although it is true, it isn’t the whole story. The buzz is based on bringing awareness to naturally occurring substances found in many cruciferous (think broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.) vegetables called goitrogens. Yes, these substances inhibit the natural function of the thyroid but in very small amounts. In order to make a huge impact on your thyroid’s hard work, you would have to intake mass amounts of raw kale incessantly and over time. And there’s more good news: goitrogens are less active when these particular vegetables are heated. Thank-goodness! So here’s a great way to avoid all that thyroid suppression: lightly steam your greens. I know massaging your kale is fun and interactive, but switching it up is always a good idea! And let’s not forget about the rest of the veggie world – kale is not the only superstar out there!
Toasted Coconut Kale & Kohlrabi Salad
- 4 small kohlrabi, shredded
- 1 bunch of lacinato kale, chopped
- pinch of himalayan pink salt
- coconut flakes, lightly toasted
Maple-Avo Dijon Dressing
- 1 avocado
- ¼ C. whole grain mustard
- ¼ C. water
- ¼ C. maple syrup
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
Za’atar Chickpea Croutons
- 8 oz. of cooked chickpeas
- 2 tblsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. za’atar spice mix
- ½ tsp. himalayan pink salt
So go ahead and work on the dressing first. Slice your avocado down the middle & spoon out all of the creamy monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, fibrous goodness into a blender or food processor leaving only the skin and pit left over to discard. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350˙ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Simply spread out a few handfuls of coconut flakes onto the sheet and put into the oven for just two-three minutes, keeping a careful eye on them as to avoid burnt coconut. Munch on a few toasted flakes and then set aside with the dressing. You can use the same baking sheet for the chickpeas, so keep the parchment paper. In a small mixing bowl, mix chickpeas with all spices and two tablespoons of melted coconut oil and then spread out onto baking sheet. Bake until crispy – about 25-30 minutes.
Onto the greens! Simply shred the kohlrabi with a cheese grater and chop up your kale, then place in a sauté pan or wok with a very small amount of water covering the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle greens with himalayan pink salt, heat on low, and cover until greens are just starting to wilt. Drain excess water.
Now this part is completely up to your taste, so play with it and start off small. Mix a few spoonfuls of Maple-Avo Dijon Dressing with your greens until saturated to your liking. Sprinkle the coconut and chickpeas atop the salad and dig in!