So, ya know when you just want to eat a salad for lunch? Or dinner? Or---No. Does ANYONE get a hankering for a salad? Because I struggle with them. No. I don't really want to eat a salad. There. I said it. I'm sorry. I really want to *love* salads, but I've gotta work at it. It's like a 7 step process, okay?
Maybe it's because Josh called it "rabbit food" once. He doesn't even say that a lot, it just happened that one time. Then my brain was like, "Welp, you tried. You will now never be satisfied with salad ever again. Because it's rabbit food." SHUT YOUR MOUTH BRAIN, YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING.
Maybe it's rooted (GET IT??? ROOTED?? It's ROOTED to it?? Is this how you pun?) to some past unhealthy habits in my youth. I was NOT healthy in high school. Skinny, yes. Too skinny. I'd run 5 miles a day, do pilates, then yoga, and survive on just salad eaten for lunch - no breakfast - then some trail mix in the evening. SO UNHEALTHY, PLEASE NO ONE DO THIS!! I'm always battling that stupid little voice in my head that thinks that 95 lbs. is still the goal. Always inwardly commenting on what I look like in those jeans, that I can't rock high waists, that OMG you weigh WHAT?? I suspect that the struggle I have with salads is the fact that it reminds me of one of the two ways I'd find sustenance every day during that unhealthy time. There's always an underlying dissatisfaction when I do eat one, but I always inwardly punish myself when I don't eat one. The cycle is ridiculous. And dang'it, I want to celebrate a salad!!
So here I am, celebrating a salad!! With greens, and lemon, and root vegetables, and lentils, and MAPLE SYRUP. Guys. Put maple syrup on your salad. For the love of salad...which will effect if it hasn't already once you put maple syrup on your salad. The real heroes here, however, are the root veggies. As you will see below, those guys are champs.
Due to their ability to ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from the ground, root vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense veggies in existence. They also help you feel full and cleanse your system. I used three different kinds in this salad. Sweet potatoes are anti-inflammatory, have antioxidant properties, and help maintain blood sugar levels in the body. Steaming them retains the most nutrients, though boiling still retains a lot of beta-carotene. Baking or roasting doubles their glycemic index. Whoops. I did that. It was delicious. Beets give antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Some evidence shows that they can enhance endurance during athletic performance and help athletes recover from exercise better because of the nitrates they contain. Our bodies need nitrates for muscle recovery, improved circulation, lower inflammation, and increased physical performance. Beets are most nutritious eaten raw or lightly steamed. Parsnips are a good source of Vitamin C, folate, and manganese. They can be cooked or used raw.
Pairing ideas for these vegetables:
- Sweet Potatoes: coconut milk, honey, maple syrup, orange, cinnamon, ginger, pecans, cashews, walnuts, raisins, curry powder
- Beets: citrus (especially oranges and clementines), blueberries, goat cheese, walnuts, ground cumin, cinnamon, and tahini
- Parsnips: nutmeg, cream, and thyme.
Also! Here is a list of root vegetables that can replace grains in cooking, if you're looking to switch it up.
| sweet potatoes | | carrots | | parsnips | | beets | | turnips |
| rutabaga | | butternut squash | | winter squash | | Jerusalem artichokes |
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad With Lentils + Maple Sunflower Butter Dressing
Adaptation From The Roasted Root. Guys. Please check out Julia's work. It's phenomenal. And I also think she's hilarious. So go do it.
- 1 large sweet potato, chopped into 1/4-1/2 in. cubes
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/4 in. rounds
- 2 medium beets, peeled and chopped into wedges
- olive oil
- cooked lentils
Maple Sunflower Butter Dressing
- 1/4 + 2 tbsp. sunflower butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt to taste
- parsley or cilantro, if desired
Preheat oven to 375. Arrange root vegetables on 2 large baking sheets in a single layer. Drizzle oil over vegetables and use hands to coat them. Sprinkle veggies with salt and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until soft and slightly browned. While the veggies are roasting, prepare your dressing. Add all the dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, thick, and creamy. If the dressing is too thick, add a small amount of water or lemon juice. Prepare the salad by adding greens and lentils to a serving bowl. Add desired amounts of roasted veggies and dressing. Serve with sunflower seeds and freshly chopped parsley or cilantro. ~ 4-6 servings