Moroccan carrot and beet salad recipe

London has been amazing!  Freezing, but amazing!  At least we were prepared with our winter outerwear for the unseasonably cold temperatures.  We have seen so much and the kids have really enjoyed it all.  After our month in Europe this summer, we learned a bit about how to keep the kids engaged and not wanting to kill each other.  We also learned that Mr. Picky, who is 9, has a 1 1/2 hour time limit in any museum (2 hours if he just ate breakfast.)  Whatever we didn’t get to see will just have to wait until our next visit.

This week we have also booked a private guide each day, which has taken the pressure off my husband from whatever palace or neighborhood we are checking out.  Besides going to many of the major sites, we also had a tour of London’s East End and its many outdoor markets, a rock tour (think The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, not One Direction), and a Shakespeare tour.  All worth it and much more interesting for the kids!  We are leaving London today for Chewton Glen in Hampshire.  My husband visited when he was a child and loved it. I’m hoping it’s still as wonderful 30 years later and I’m hoping we make it in one piece since my husband will be driving us there.  On the other side of the road.  You know I’ll give you all the details either way!

Now I hope you didn’t think I was going to scamper about England this week and forget about you cooks.  Rubbish!  Although I’ve been tweeting what I’ve been up to and posting a few things on Facebook, I didn’t want the week to go by without something for you to try in the kitchen.  Believe me, after a week of scones and mash (not at the same time, of course), I’ll be ready for a few salads like this when I return home.

First of all, if you think you hate beets, you may not hate them raw so stay with me here.  This salad converted everyone who thought s/he didn’t like beets.  I am fairly obsessed with chopped and grated salads.  One of my favorites is my grated carrot salad with avocados and sunflower seeds.  I love vegetables cut into small bits so that you get a lot of different flavors in one bite.  And grated vegetables can actually be a totally different experience from their whole counterparts.  This is completely true with respect to carrots.  If you haven’t tried the carrot salad I just mentioned, you absolutely must!

The one thing you do need to do for this salad is go into your garage behind the piece of exercise equipment, pull out the Cuisinart box and find the medium grating disc which I’m hoping you didn’t throw out thinking you would never use it!  If you did, go to the manufacturer’s website or thegourmetdepotco.com where you can buy missing or broken parts to almost any appliance.  The grating disc is amazing, one of my favorite kitchen tools especially since I broke up with my mandoline.  No love lost there.  I use my grating disc to make very quick work of shredding cheese, onions, potatoes, zucchini, apples, cabbage, and of course carrots and beets.  One tip I can give you is that many food processors give you the option of feeding your food through the wide part or the much narrower feed tube.  In the case of carrots, I like to process them horizontally the wide way for longer shreds for a salad and through the feed tube for short shreds which are better for carrot cake or carrot muffins.

I was doing a Moroccan-inspired menu last month and I desperately wanted to include a carrot salad.  Many Moroccan salads are too sweet for me and include dried fruit plus lots of honey in the dressing.  In my opinion, carrots and beets are already rather sweet, so this salad is dressed with a cumin-orange-lemon dressing, a little tart and just a little sweet.  You can leave this as grated veggies and dressing for a fab 5-minute salad or make a little extra effort and add the delightful fresh herbs which turn this into something really awesome.  I eat this without feta since I’ve gone dairy-free (moment of silence), but if you can handle a little goat or sheep cheese, add it and you won’t be sorry!  Either way, this is a juicy, crunchy, thirst-quenching, gorgeous salad which happens to be super nutritious and alkalizing.

I have served this salad with all sorts of fish dishes, simple roast chicken, frittatas and vegetable stew.  I’m sure it would be great with lamb or grilled beef kabobs.  My point is that you don’t have to be eating a Moroccan meal to enjoy this.  A little heads-up about eating red beets, though. If you’ve never tried them, just be aware that when you eliminate, there will be a tinge of hot pink/red.  I can’t tell you how many stories I heard of people calling their doctors or googling “hot pink poop.”  On the other hand, eating beets can be a good indication of how efficient your digestive system is.  If you see beets later that day or the next, things are moving nice and quickly.  But if it takes 4 days for those beets to appear again,  you probably need a little more fiber and water in your diet.  Just a thought.

Ok, that’s all I have for today, friends.  I’m leaving the hustle and bustle of London for the English countryside and hoping to make it in time for Afternoon Tea which has become my favorite way to wind down after a busy day.  I know some people like a glass of wine at 5, but I’m not sure they’ve tried sitting down to tea with a warm homemade scone.  Brilliant!

Moroccan Carrot and Beet Salad
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled
  • ¾ pound fresh beets (about 2 medium beets), trimmed and peeled (with a vegetable peeler), greens saved for another use
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (measured after it has been chopped)
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika
  • 6 Tablespoons unrefined cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I like goat feta)(optional)
Instructions
  1. Using the shredding disc of your food processor, shred the carrots and beets. Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl.
  2. Add herbs to serving bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl or in a screw-top jar, combine lemon juice, orange juice, sea salt, cumin, paprika and olive oil.
  4. Pour enough dressing on top of carrot mixture to coat lightly and toss to combine. Add more if desired.
  5. Add feta on top of salad and taste for seasoning. If you dress the salad early, the dressing will pull water from the vegetables and make a pool at the bottom of your serving bowl. You can just serve from the top or pour off some of the liquid no problem.
Notes
Salad can be dressed the day before and herbs and feta added just before serving.

For a delicious, spicy note, add about ¾ teaspoon harissa to the dressing.

Harvest chopped salad

Halloween is tomorrow, but to tell you the truth, I don’t make much of an effort to show my “spirit” with cupcakes that look like spiders or swamp slime green Jell-o.     Do my kids really need marshmallow ghosts on top of the candy  I have not forbidden them to inhale as they trick-or-treat?  Silly question!  Actually, my only food strategy on Halloween is to make a very hearty , filling dinner, like vegetable chili with brown rice, so the kids aren’t starving while they carry around a sack o’chocolate.  Works for me!

If you checked out my post last Thursday, you probably guessed I have bypassed Halloween and gone straight into Thanksgiving mode.   Not only have I already taught two Thanksgiving classes, but I am starting to check tasks off my list.   Invites — out.  Menu — planned.  Turkeys — ordered.  So if you’re like me and you’re daydreaming about maple-glazed root vegetables instead of witch cakes,  let’s get down to business!

The vegetables are really the only part of the menu that I get to have any fun at all.  My family and guests would have a rebellion if I didn’t make roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and sweet potato casserole.  So every year I try some new salads and vegetables just to mix it up a bit.   This salad is one of my absolute favorites and not just for Thanksgiving.  I have made this for other holiday dinners and for friends, and I always save a little extra for me for the next day’s lunch.  This salad is the perfect complement to a Thanksgiving meal consisting of lots of cooked food,  much of it soft and beige.  Not only will all of these colors brighten up your holiday buffet table like little jewels, but you’ll be happy to have something juicy, crunchy and (is this a crime?) healthful to eat.  Even though there are apples, pomegranates and dates in the salad, it doesn’t feel too sweet.  It’s more like a tart-sweet, a perfect complement to roast turkey.

This salad is also ideal for Thanksgiving since you can prep almost all of it the day before.  Oh yeah!   No need to squeeze anything into your already monopolized oven or dirty any measuring spoons the day of.  You can blanche the beans the day before, roast the beets two days before, chop fennel the day before and cover with a damp paper towel, seed the pomegranate several days before, chop walnuts whenever you want, and make the salad dressing several days in advance.  The only last minute item is the apples which you can dice a few hours in advance and keep in ice water in the refrigerator.  Just drain and pat dry before adding to the salad.  How’s that for a plan!

Harvest Chopped Salad
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 3 stalks celery or 1 bulb fennel, diced (I prefer fennel.)
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1 medium pomegranate)
  • 1 large crisp apple (e.g. Fuji or Granny Smith), diced (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3 dates, pitted and diced (easier to cut when they’re cold)
  • 1 cup diced roasted golden beets (can be done the day before)*
  • Vinaigrette: (can be prepared several days in advance)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons walnut oil (or use all olive oil)
Instructions
  1. Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Blanche green beans for 2 minutes in boiling, salted water. Drain and submerge into ice water. Drain, pat dry and slice on the diagonal into bite sized pieces. (Can be done the day before.)
  2. In a large bowl combine beans, chopped celery, pomegranate, apple, walnuts, dates and beets.
  3. Prepare the vinaigrette: whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl. Pour enough vinaigrette over vegetables to coat lightly. Taste for salt and pepper.
Notes
*To roast 1-2 beets, wrap each one in parchment and then foil. Or follow the photos above to roast a pan of several beets. Roast in a 400 degree oven until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Large ones can take about 60 minutes. Allow to cool and then peel off the skins.

Acai Bowl Recipe

 

I am a little bit of a skeptic, I’ll admit.  When a new food comes onto the scene claiming to save your life, I have to raise an eyebrow.  One food can’t do it all.  If you’ve noticed, I try not to beat anyone over the head with nutrition facts but rather emphasize a diet of a wide variety of mostly plant-based whole foods.  Eating seasonally, locally and organically helps too, but first things first.

Many years ago I started hearing the praises of acai (prononced ah-sigh-EE), a berry native to the Amazon (the rainforest, not the online shopping site).  Acai’s claims to fame are its insane antioxidant levels (more than blueberries!), healthful fats and a good smattering of iron, calcium and beta-carotene.  It also happens to be very low in carbs and sugar.  What I love is acai’s deep berry, almost chocolatey flavor.  Delicious, I promise you.

“Acai bowls” are popular in Brazil, but have found a loyal following in the US in areas with year-round warm weather, such as Hawaii and Baja California.  They’re kind of like a super thick smoothie/soft serve sorbet that you eat with a spoon.  Beacause acai bowls are so soft and creamy, they beg for toppings with a little texture.  The most traditional way they are eaten is with a scoop of granola, sliced fresh bananas and a drizzle of honey.  I was at a hotel in San Diego a few years ago when I saw an acai bowl on the menu and I very enthusiastically ordered it.

Let’s cut to the chase here — my family and I have been addicted to these since that day.  Not only that, but I have taught all three of my kids how to make them so when their friends come over they can throw together a nutritious and tasty snack in minutes, and one which their friends probably haven’t had anywhere else.  Cool!  One day, the mom of one of Mr. Picky’s friends came over holding a packet of frozen acai with a look of desperation and said, “Just tell me what to do with this.”  Many of my kids’ friends are hooked, too!  I let everyone choose their own toppings, which can include granola, flaked coconut, walnuts, cacao nibs, sliced almonds and cut up fresh fruit like bananas, strawberries or blueberries.  Mr. Picky always adds a small handful of mini chocolate chips and I’m okay with that since there’s no other added sugar here.

Now that the weather is becoming warmer, I wanted to share this recipe so you could enjoy it for the whole summer (I love that word!).  Since my version isn’t super sweet, I think with the right toppings an acai bowl makes a great breakfast, post-workout snack or even dessert.  You can see from the recipe that there isn’t anything too suspect or worrisome, just a bit of fruit sugar.  Wouldn’t you prefer these ingredients which are paired with vitamins, minerals, fiber, good fats and antioxidants over artificially-colored and flavored popsicles?  Thought so.  But just so we’re clear, I’m not trying to convince you that acai bowls are a magic cure for anything other than a craving for something cool, creamy and very delicious!

Acai Bowls
Author: 
Serves: 2 generously
 
Ingredients
  • 2 packets frozen acai puree (break it into pieces first to make it easier on your blender)
  • 1 frozen or fresh* ripe banana (cut into pieces) or a heaping cup of frozen mango chunks
  • 1 large handful frozen or fresh* blueberries, strawberries, mango or peaches
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice or apple juice or almond milk*
  • Topping suggestions: granola, sliced bananas, fresh berries, coconut, chopped nuts, cacao nibs
Instructions
  1. Add acai, fruit and juice to a blender and puree until smooth, but thick. A Vitamix does this very easily, but if you have a standard blender you'll just have to scrape down the sides every so often. Divide between two individual bowls and add toppings of choice. Serve immediately.
Notes
*Frozen fruit will give you a better texture and make it more like soft serve ice cream.

**fruit juice will make the acai bowl a little sweeter than almond milk but the almond milk makes it taste a little creamier. If you use almond milk, taste it before serving and if necessary, sweeten with a little raw honey or add a pitted date or two to the blender and puree.

**You can add your favorite protein powder to make it a more complete breakfast.