I met someone recently who shared she was going to be taking a tight-rope walking class this Winter. “Cool”, I said, “what’s the inspiration?” She explained that she’s not really a Winter person. Planning a few unique event’s and outings gives her something to look forward to as the colder months settle in. I like that idea. It’s easy to get a bit stir crazy this time of year when we find ourselves indoors so much! OK, I just broke a promise I made to myself this morning and mentioned the weather….. I wasn’t going to do that. I was going to stay focused on Heart Month . . . but my bones are still cold from walking the dog because it’s 5 degrees today!! Without wind chills.
So in keeping with that thought of finding our way, joyfully, through Winter, my friend Lisa and I were talking just this morning – about holding onto the vision of Spring on days like today. We laughed out loud as we discussed the endless tubes of lip balm and jars of body lotions we’re using in an attempt to keep everything from cracking! Lisa remembers a few years ago when it snowed like crazy end of February and by mid March she was looking for her lawnmower!
One of the things that keeps me in a Spring-state-of-mind is greens. All kinds of them! I frequently visit greenhouses this time of year, hug up close to the plants and breathe deeply. The smell of dirt takes me right to my flower garden and pots of herbs . . . . it fills me up. Sometimes I pick up tulips or a hyacinth plant for our kitchen table, greens for the center of our home. Mick and I visited Starved Rock State Park a few weeks ago to watch the eagles fish. Gracefully they soared between the evergreen trees as they readied themselves to dive into the water for a catch! Breathtaking . . . .
February is Heart Month. In cooking class last week we focused on heart healthy recipes and we included, as you might imagine, plenty of greens! We also wove in lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and beans . . . potassium, fiber and antioxidant rich foods for keeping our hearts healthy! The salad we put together was clearly a favorite. Everyone gave it a thumbs up! It’s loaded with all good stuff – whole grain millet, creamy sweet potatoes, crunchy apples and greens.
So, as I hung up the phone with Lisa, it occurred to me that when I can’t get out-of-town, a simple out-of-the-ordinary dish works great too! Tinkering in the kitchen with a few new recipes has equally the power to transport me to a place of joy, when I need a diversion from the cold (or pretty much anything really). It’s a mini get-a-way for me! I plant myself at the kitchen counter, chop and dice, whisk and toss and dive into total deliciousness! I remind myself how many weeks until the Farmer’s Market opens . . . . only 10 . . . . and I’m good to go! Enjoy!
Roasted Sweet Potato, Apple and Kale Salad
1 cup Millet, cooked
2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled, diced and roasted
2 Apples, diced (braeburn or fugi)
5 cups Kale, packed and gently chopped (or half kale and half spinach)
1 cup Golden Raisins (or cranberries)
1 cup Walnuts, chopped
2-3 tsp Dijon Mustard, to taste
1 small Shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup fat-free Yogurt, plain
1- 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup, to taste
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Prepare millet per package instructions and set aside. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
2. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes and dice into small pieces. Place on a foil lined pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Roast in 400 degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. These can also be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
3. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine. Season to taste and set aside.
4. Remove sweet potatoes from the oven and allow to cool.
5. Combine the millet, sweet potatoes, apples, kale, raisins and walnuts in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Season to taste. This salad can be served either warm or cold.
Recipe Adapted From:
Andrew and Muriel’s Healthy Happy Holidays Cookbook,
Muriel Angot with Andrew Lessman,
Copyright 2013 the Andrew Lessman Foundation