Fae’s Fabulously Festive Kale Salad

Sweet fall carrots

a tub of freshly harvested carrots, gleaned in the fall from Morning Glory Farm

My dear friend, mentor and acupuncturist, Fae Kontje-Gibbs, co-hosts Thanksgiving dinner with an old friend and when she made this salad last year it was a huge hit. So, on the menu it went again this year.  I helped her to prepare the salad this past November, shredding mountains of carrots and juicing many limes, and since then I have been hooked.  The colors, textures and flavors are all fabulous, not to mention its nutrient-dense ingredients.

Fae and I have a similar way in the kitchen–we often don’t measure with cups and spoons; instead we measure with our eyes, our hands, our tongues and our good old sixth sense.  Quantities are approximate.  Work with what you have and don’t be afraid to experiment.  The key to the dressing is balancing sour and salt with the sweet of the currants (or raisins, or whatever dried fruit you have on hand), and using enough good extra virgin olive oil to make the dish satisfying and also to help your body absorb the good stuff in the veggies.  Use organic produce if you can, especially the kale and carrots.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (or more if you’d like) dried currants

a few tablespoons of fresh citrus juice lemon, lime, grapefruit or tangerine, or a combination of all three, with at least one lemon or lime.  You can substitute champagne- or rice wine- or apple cider vinegar for the sour citrus if necessary.

A bunch of carrots, shredded…about 2-3 cups.  It’s fun to use multi-colored carrots if available.

a bunch of kale, washed, pulled from stems and torn into bite size pieces.

1-2 grapefruits, peeled and “supremed” (the fleshy sections are cut away from the membranes )– my addition to the salad.

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste

Directions:

Soak currants in citrus juice.  Toss shredded carrots with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and then massage in the kale–think carrot salad with a generous portion of kale for color and texture, as opposed to kale salad with some shredded carrots.  Add the currants and juice and toss to combine.  Season to taste with salt and more lemon or lime juice.  Gently mix in grapefruit sections.  Serve immediately, or let rest as long as overnight–chilled and covered.  Test seasoning again before serving; if needed, spruce up with a bit more lemon or lime juice and a touch of salt.

Enjoy!

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…an “Eating clean” experiment – Day #4.

I’m doing an experiment.  It’s called an anti-inflammatory-elimination-diet.  I’ve done similar ones before, and I have found that when I eat only some foods and not other foods, my body and mind feel better.  Sometimes I forget and I slip back into eating more of the foods that seem to lead to my body and mind not feeling good.  But then my body gives me little nudges and hints, and I am reminded of what is possible…

Today is day #4 of eating clean, and the biggest thing I have noticed so far is that my nose is less stuffed up–my sinuses are clearer.  I think it’s also possible that the heel pain in my right foot is a little bit less.  I have recently been listening to an on-line summit about the paleo diet, specifically geared towards women, and although I don’t call the way I eat “paleo”, it is very similar and listening to other folks speak about their success in healing with this diet and way of life has been supportive and inspiring.  You can check out the summit here.

I was moved, in part, to re-“clean” my diet after the heel pain that I’ve had for the last couple of years, on and off, was getting worse again, even after the pain had almost gone away with lots of physical therapy and bodywork.  I didn’t feel like I had re-injured it, per se, so I looked at what else could be affecting it.  I had been pretty stressed out for the last few weeks, which increases inflammation in the body, and I had also been getting less sleep, another cause of inflammation.  I reflected on my diet, and I realized that I had been eating large amounts of veggies from the nightshade family, lots of nuts and corn and some other grains and beans.  Tons of peanut butter.  Lots of cheese. And some sugar and chocolate.  And basically too much food in general.  I had fallen back into my habit of eating lots of comfort food, and late into the night.  All these could be triggering an inflammatory response.

In the past, my instinct used to be to think that I should go on a fast when I found myself in this situation.  What I have realized, though, is that for me it actually works better to just switch tracks to eating a clean, nutrient-dense diet first so I can curb the cravings a little less abruptly. This way, I am also less likely to end up binging after the cleanse the way that I have in the past when I have done a cleanse where I consume very few calories.

So, here I go!  I am eating lots of veggies, some fruit, lots of seafood, poultry and meat, and fat anywhere I can find it.  I am playing around with dairy–so far I have cut out everything except butter and I’m thinking I might want to go off butter for awhile too.  I may try ghee (clarified butter) and see how that feels, but my sense is that I could use a break from dairy all together.  They other place I’m playing around a little bit is with nuts.  I find that I get much of my fat from butter and nuts, so I’m wondering how I’ll be able to get enough fat if I’m not eating either one.  I’ve decided to do only macadamias for now, and see how that feels.  In the past I’ve gotten much of my fat from coconut oil, but I’m noticing that I feel a little sensitive to that too so I’m considering taking a break from coconut as well.  And EGGS! same thing.

WHAT ON EARTH WILL I EAT?? I’m sort of wondering this myself.  I’ve done a similarly strict diet in the past, severely limiting my carbohydrate intake so as to encourage my body to burn fat, heal from candida, and also to get the beneficial affects of ketosis.  Ketosis is something I am still learning about so I won’t try to explain it now.  I ate a LOT of eggs and coconut oil during that time, and since I’m playing around with the idea of taking a break from both of those, part of me is definitely wondering what I am going to end up eating. And whether it’s even possible to limit all of those things at once.  It’s basically an elimination diet, and the cool thing about them is that generally you don’t need to follow them for too long before you start adding foods back in to see how you react.

So, for the rest of this week, I’m planning to eat vegetables, focusing on green and leafy veggies with a few starchy ones for treats and variety, and olives and avocados for fat.  I’ll skip nightshades which include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes (sweet potatoes are ok).  I’ll eat lots of fish, especially salmon and sardines, and some chicken, beef, lamb and a bit of pork.  I’m going to see if I can make it through the week without eggs, coconut oil, butter and nuts.  I’ll use extra virgin olive oil, fatty meat, avocado and olives for fat.  And maybe I’ll lay my hands on some lard and organ meats.  I’ll use warm bone broth to provide a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. And lacto-fermented veggies for fun and a healthy gut!  And next time I’ll write a bit more about what herbs and spices, vitamins, minerals and other supplements I’m taking to support the anti-inflammatory diet, and my system and mood in general.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, or if you’re interested in the possibility of trying out a diet like this and would like some support.  I’m hoping to post some simple recipes and other tips and tricks that I have discovered while eating this way. Thanks for reading!  Here’s to our health!

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