California Fall (Superfood!) Salad Recipe — Easy & Quick

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“A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal.” ~Pat Conroy

When I came across this quote on Instagram a while back, it really resonated with me. Poetic. True. It puts into words the deep meaning food can have for so many people, be it related to our childhoods, places we’ve lived in, places we love, or good times with friends.

This past Saturday, all of these things came together. During a weekend trip to Silicon Valley, I visited an old friend from Boston. She had made a delicious meal, including roasted colorful carrots, delicious vegan eggplant patties, quinoa with sweet potatoes, and lemon chicken wings. But what really stood out to me was the salad she made. I couldn’t get enough of it.

First, it had pomegranate in it. I know that’s pretty common in the U.S., but when I was growing up in Lebanon, salads were decisively salty. As a result, I don’t usually like fruits in salads. This was definitely an exception, especially because the pomegranate was always a special fruit growing up. Of course, we only had it once a year when it was in season– and we usually got it from the garden of our old family home in the country that we went to on weekends. I still remember the tree and how delighted I would be when the fruits appeared on it when I was a kid.

Second, the salad had avocado in it, (which was a really nice contrast in both texture and flavor to the sharp pomegranate seeds). We had been laughing all evening about the particular foods we eat in California (avocado, kale, etc., etc.,), and how our loved ones who don’t live here tease us about our eating habits.

Third, a simple dressing of olive oil and vinegar complemented the ingredients perfectly.

I didn’t even think about what a healthy salad of “superfoods” it was until I recreated it yesterday for my book club. So, so good. So, so simple. And so, so easy. I had to share it on this blog.

Iram’s California Superfood Salad

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Ingredients

  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 large avocados (3 small)
  • 10 oz spinach (I recommend buying bags of pre-washed baby leaves from places like Trader Joe’s. Makes it so much simpler).
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

Seed the pomegranate. Yesterday, convinced I had been doing it wrong all along because it felt too onerous and complicated, I Googled “easy way to seed pomegranate” and found this great video:

Peel and cut the avocados. Again, Instagram taught me a simple, quick way to do it that I’m very proud of:

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Wash the cucumber, slice it in half and then cut into small pieces.

Toss all the ingredients together. Add the olive oil, vinegar and salt. Ta-da.

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Bonus:

I also was inspired to roast multi-colored whole carrots like my friend did on Saturday:

  • Scrub the carrots well.
  • Toss in coconut oil, salt and pepper.
  • Roast at 400 F for around 40 minutes, turning them over halfway.

And I finally tried out this amazing, simple Pumpkin Alfredo recipe that I had found, again, on Instagram (which is clearly so good for food tips!), and highly recommend.

Book club fall dinner This Is Where You Belong Melody Warnick
All so simple to prepare, yet was such a great fall dinner.

Here’s to good seasonal food shared with friends!

 

 

P.S. Can we discuss for a moment how beautiful these carrots are? Our natural world is amazing.

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2 Lessons From Minjay: A Post-Election Special Edition

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Always a smile on Minjay’s face.

A lot of people, all across the political spectrum, are left wondering how to act, feel, and move on from a divisive, bitter election. As I often do in times of challenge, I turn to Minjay for lessons on how to be a good human. Here are two things I’ve learned from him so far that I think apply especially to this week, and to how we can move forward.

Love everyone and everything. Say hi to everyone. Assume they’re the best. Try. But retreat quickly if they’re mean and stay away.

There isn’t a dog or human that we come into contact with on walks or at the park that Minjay doesn’t want to say hi to, play with, and get to know. Minjay will even try to play with dogs who have snapped at him before. He’ll give them a chance, every time, though a bit more cautiously than usual, and if they snap again he just walks away, still happy and wagging his tail.

It is so clear how he assumes that everyone is awesome, everyone is fun, everyone is kind and worth saying hello to. As I’ve watched him over the past four years on daily walks, it’s opened me up to become more friendly and more open to others.

He’s also helped me deal with people who aren’t particularly nice– You always try to say hello and engage, and if they’re mean, you simply walk away without giving it another thought. Which leads me to the next lesson…

My writing partner, always extra happy when we're sitting outside.
My writing partner, always extra happy when we’re sitting outside.

Don’t let anyone affect or change your character.

We were at an outdoor picnic-style event last summer with friends, and in our group there was another dog. The poor pup was a rescue and still getting used to other dogs and noisy outdoor settings. Minjay, every-friendly, wiggled up to the dog to try and play. He rolled around on the grass, smiling, clearly loving our summer night outside. The other dog was barking non-stop, right in Minjay’s face, but that didn’t deter him from having a great time.

I think on some level he knew that the dog wouldn’t hurt him, and he was not about to let anyone ruin his fun or change his mood. I was stunned– even though I’d seen his happy disposition in action a thousand times before, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised— at how he stretched out on our blanket, a huge-happy-dog smile across his face, tail wagging, completely ignoring the other dog’s barks (again, it was right in his face, practically touching him. This wasn’t barking from far away). I made a huge mental note to myself that evening: No matter how someone else is acting, you don’t let them alter who you are and your mood, or ruin a great time for you.

I saw a post by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert on Instagram yesterday that reminded me of this very note I had made to myself a few months ago:

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And finally, I’ll end this post with a great video that is a good reminder of how much we can find in common with people we disagree with, especially when it comes to dogs: