Warm Pickled Beet Salad with Goat Feta

Cleanse your blood and please your palate with this tasty pickled beet salad!

This recipe was inspired by A Thought For Food.

February marks the last bit of winter. In Ayurveda it is "kapha" season, which means that our digestion and our bodies might feel sluggish. It's an important time to start to boost our metabolism of fat in preparation for spring cleansing. So in order to assist our gall bladders and livers rev up their fat-busting super powers, we should favor natural cleansers such as vinegar, lemons, beets, kale, and beans.

Beware of too much dairy this time of year, as it can keep our systems slow and sludgy. If you're going to partake, then try to include goat dairy, as it is generally easier on the digestion than most cow dairy.

In terms of seasonal eats, there's not much growing outside in February, so it's nice to have stocked up on some canned or pickled items (I just learned how to make pickled beets in November...Thanks Tamlin!). And folks who are fortunate enough to have a greenhouse or cold frame might have some greens growing. So thus was born this warm pickled beet salad with arugula and goat feta. Feel free to add whatever kinds of herbs to your vinaigrette that sound tasty. I personally liked the basil/mint combo, but get creative and enjoy!

Tamlin and me, having a domestic goddess day in our frilly aprons. She taught me how to can beets. So fun!

Ingredients:

1 Pint jar of pickled beets (or you can just roast or boil 4 beets that have been trimmed, peeled, and sliced into rounds) 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil 2 Tablespoons ghee 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 Clove garlic, minced 1/2 Teaspoon ground allspice Salt and pepper 1/2 Drop doTERRA basil essential oil 1/4 Cup chopped mint, or 2 tablespoons dried mint 1/4 Cup chopped basil, or 2 tablespoons dried basil 1 Small red onion, thinly sliced into rounds 4-6 Cups arugula (you can use spinach or watercress in its place too...) 1 Cup goat feta cheese, crumbled

Method:

Drain the pickled beets. (If using fresh beets, roast or boil them to your liking, skin, and slice them into rounds, and allow them to cool a bit.)

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper to taste, the mint, the basil. Then dip a toothpick in the doTERRA basil oil and stir it into the mixture.

Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat, add the ghee, and the onions. Allow the onions to brown, then add the pickled beets. Saute them together for a few minutes until sufficiently warmed. Add a bit of the dressing mixture into the pan to coat the beets and onions.

Toss the arugula in remaining dressing. Put it into serving bowls (2 for a meal-sized salad, 4 for an app-sized salad), then adorn each bowl with a bit of the beet onion mixture.

Crumble some goat feta atop each one. Serve and enjoy!

Benefits:

Arugula: Arugula is a rich source of folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and B-complexes (such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, which are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions). This is a low-cal lettuce leaf that packs a nutritional wallop, so don’t be afraid to ask for a second helping! See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Basil: Basil contains flavanoids called orientin and vicenin, which protect us at a cellular level. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also high in vitamin K, so is great for our blood health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Basil Essential Oil: Basil has powerful anti-infectious, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. It can be used to boost alertness and concentration, ease anxiety, nervous depression, headaches, mental fatigue, and insomnia. See here to learn more about doTerra essential oils.

Beet: A great source of phytonutrients called betalains, which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They are also an excellent source of folate, which is a crucial nutrient especially for those who are (or are looking to get) pregnant. They are also very high in manganese and fiber. These root veggies contain nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information (raw) (cooked).

Ghee: A favorite among Ayurvedic practitioners, said to help cure ailments from tight muscles to memory loss. Ghee is essentially clarified butter that has been separated from the milk solids and saturated fats. I highly recommend replacing your regular butter with this. Read up on the health benefits and nutritional information.

Peppermint: Peppermint is a good source of vitamins C and A, as well as manganese and copper. It is also great for the digestion and has antimicrobial properties. See here for more health benefits.

Nectarine and Heirloom Tomato Salad

This 5-minute salad was one of my favorites of the summer...Sweet, tart, and tangy, I'm drooling a little just thinking about it. Nectarines and tomatoes might not seem a likely pair, but oooh, they are. Sweet yet savory, tart but smooth, the ripe flesh of both of these fruits (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit) are a sultry match, like a tango in my mouth. I had to make an instant salad to go with dinner, and ended up enjoying this way more than the main course. So I offer it humbly, and hope the results are equally as satisfying to you.

Ingredients:

2 large or 5 small/medium RIPE heirloom tomatoes (I like the smaller ones as their flavor is more concentrated)

2 RIPE nectarines

2 Tbs. julienned basil

High quality olive oil and sea salt for marinating

*NOTE: This recipe can be made with ripe peaches as well for a similar effect, but I recommend using nectarines. If using peaches, peel them for less "mouth fuzz."

*OPTIONAL: If you're craving dairy, try a few crumbles of goat cheese for a nice variation on taste and presentation.

Method:

Slice tomatoes and nectarines into a bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste. Toss.

Sprinkle with basil and allow to sit 5-10 minutes (if you can wait that long!)

Serve and enjoy.

Health Benefits:

Basil: Basil contains flavanoids called orientin and vicenin, which protect us at a cellular level. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also high in vitamin K, so is great for our blood health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Nectarines: Nectarines are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta carotene (read: high in cancer-fighting free radicals!), and are high in fiber. They are also a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps maintain healthy blood pressure. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Olive Oil: Olive Oil is packed phytonutrients including polyphenols. Most of the polyphenols in olive oil function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body. When eaten in moderation, olive oil can be very beneficial to our gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Tomato: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Multiple studies have shown that tomatoes are wonderful for heart health. See here for more health benefits of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties of any flora and fauna are dear to my heart. I’ll write more about this later. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Cobb-ish Salad

Have some leftovers? Put them in rows on a plate for a beautiful gourmet treat!

(A.K.A. Use Up All My Leftovers in a Pretty Way Salad)

Aah, the beloved Cobb...Vegans, plug your ears for the next sentence...This standard American favorite traditionally boasts the artery-clogging (albeit delish) combo of chicken, Roquefort cheese, bacon, hard boiled egg, and some vitamin-packed (NOT!) iceburg lettuce, just for good measure. But if you're not in the mood for a triple bypass heart surgery, then this salad can come in many delicious and flavorful combinations that your body will less likely to reject.

I like the Cobb salad because it's a nice excuse to play with your food, creating color and flavor combinations to suit your mood and dietary requirements. It can be tailored to any diet: paleo, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, fun-free, flavor-free...anyway, you get the idea. The ingredients below are just what I had on-hand this evening, so feel free to get creative! Kick it up a notch with meat, egg, or cheese, fresh or dried fruit, and perhaps a sprinkle of fresh or dried herbs to embolden all the flavors. Please share your favorite combinations. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 medium/large avocado sliced or chopped

1 medium large tomato sliced or chopped

2 cups chopped greens (spinach, or head lettuce)

1 cup shredded carrots (Or Moroccan Carrot Salad)

1 cup green peas or the legume of your choice

1 cup grain of your choice (I used black rice with chopped greek olives, olive oil and pepper)

Method:

Arrange all ingredients in clean rows on your plate to suit your color and texture preferences.

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, or your favorite salad dressing.

Admire the pretty rainbow of ingredients.

Then mix them up and eat!

*Note: If you’re a meat, egg, or cheese eater, those make welcome and tasty additions to this delightful salad. Otherwise the “grain and legume” combo makes a complete protein.

Health Benefits:

Avocado: Avocado is an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, folate, vitamins K, C, and B, and potassium. It also contains a wide spectrum of inflammation-fighting nutrients. Avocado also helps increase our intake of two key carotenoid antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene—when eaten with romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Black Rice: Known as “forbidden rice,” black rice was only eaten by nobles in Ancient China. It contains high levels of antioxidants known as “anthocyanins,” which have been linked to decreased rates of heart disease and cancer. Black rice is also high in other vitamins, fiber, and protein. See here for more health benefits.

Carrot: Carrots are well known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient, beta-carotene, which is GREAT for our eye health. However, these root vegetables are also a great source of a variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K. Studies have shown their effectiveness in the prevention of colon cancer, and their benefits to our cardiovascular health. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Green Peas: Green peas are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients such as Vitamins K, C, A, and B1, as well as manganese, folate, and fiber. As "nitrogen fixers" in gardening, green peas can provide the soil in which they are grown with nutrients, and thusly are considered an environmentally friendly food. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Spinach: Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K (think blood builder/purifier!), vitamins A, C, B2 and B6, as well as manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Popeye apparently knew how to protect himself against inflammatory problems and oxidative stress-related issues, while promoting his cardiovascular and bone health. AND he got the girl! See here for more health benefits and nutritional info.

Tomato: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Multiple studies have shown that tomatoes are wonderful for heart health. See here for more health benefits of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties of any flora and fauna are dear to my heart. I’ll write more about this later. See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Black Sesame Encrusted Tuna and Heirloom Tomatoes on Arugula

Black sesame encrusted tuna and truffled heirloom tomatoes on bed of arugula. You might as well call this the "healthy heart salad." All the ingredients have heart helping properties, and as we all know, the heart is a pretty important organ to keep happy and healthy. So give it, and your taste buds, some love. And make sure to say a blessing to the fish who gave it's life so that you may be nourished. Happy eating!

Ingredients:

Salad:

2-4 cups arugula

1 large heirloom tomato, preferably something kinda dark and stinky like a black krim or ananas noire, sliced into thick slices

Truffle or sea salt to taste

NOTE: If vegetarian, sub avocado and/or your favorite cheese (like this yummy goat cheese, see photo below) instead of tuna. Yum!

Dressing:

3 tbs. grapeseed oil

Juice of ½ lime

Pinch salt

Teeny squirt agave nectar

Tuna and Marinade:

Two ahi tuna steaks (preferably sustainable, wild caught, and fresh)

¼ cup water

Healthy squirt of liquid aminos

1 tbs. sesame oil

1 tbs.-ish agave nectar or honey

½ teaspoon diced ginger root

1 clove crushed or minced garlic

½ cup black sesame seeds

Ghee for searing

Method:

Combine marinade ingredients and tuna steaks and allow to marinate AT LEAST 15 minutes…preferably more like 30.

While tuna is marinating, prepare salads: mix dressing, toss arugula with dressing and adorn with tomato slices, pinch truffle or sea salt over tomato slices.

Arrange black sesame seeds in a thin layer on a plate.

Smoosh tuna steaks on sesame seeds, flip and repeat on both steaks.

When ready to eat, heat pan and ghee to med-high heat.

Put tuna in pan and sear for 1 minute.

Carefully flip and sear other side for one minute.

Add tuna steaks to salad and voíla! Enjoy. (Or see vegetarian option below.)

Truffled heirloom tomatoes, goat brie, and avocado on bed of arugula.

Health benefits:

Arugula: Arugula is a rich source of folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and B-complexes (such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, which are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions). This is a low-cal lettuce leaf that packs a nutritional wallop, so don’t be afraid to ask for a second helping! See here for more health benefits and nutritional information.

Heirloom Tomatoes: Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain high amounts of manganese and vitamin E. Multiple studies have shown that tomatoes are wonderful for heart health. See here for more health benefits of tomatoes. Heirloom varieties of any flora and fauna are dear to my heart. I'll write more about this later.

Black Sesame Seeds: These little seeds are jam packed with manganese and copper, and are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, and dietary fiber. The black variety is also known in Chinese Medicine (as are all black- and blue-colored foods) as yin builders. More on this later, but see here for more nutrition facts on these mini powerhouses!

Tuna: I know, I know. Yogi(ni)s are supposed to be vegetarian. Don't even get me started. There are some times in life when flesh is a necessity for some beings...(to be posted about later, dude)...Anyway, IF you are partaking of animal flesh, tuna is a powerhouse of lean protein, tryptophan (the "feel-good" amino acid), and minerals such as selenium, magnesium, and potassium. Tuna is also packed with the B vitamins niacin, B1 and B6, and is a great source omega-3 essential fatty acids. See here for a more detailed look at the health benefits of this super fish.