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Reflections Over a Sweet Summer Salad

August 6, 2012 •  one comment.

 •  Blog, Getting Started, Recipes

Written by Robyn O’Brien

I was not always good about following directions.  I was way too curious.  So during my early attempts at cooking as a kid, when anyone would put a recipe in front of me, all I could see were “rules.”  The boundaries telling me to do “do it this way”, “do it that way”, too much, too little.  Those rules didn’t seem to allow for much deviation.

So my tendency was to opt out of cooking, which I did for a very long time until we hit some bumps along the road in the health of our children.  I then realized that I was going to have to set a new rule for myself if I were going to attempt anything in the kitchen: Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

In the years since, I have had to lean on this rule a lot, especially in the kitchen.  I was  known to burn beans, noodles and pancakes, so those insecurities lingered, and I wasn’t too sure I was going to be able to create much of anything.  And as I got started, while I tried to follow the rules in recipes, I found it far less intimidating to get creative.

So today, when a friend asks for “a recipe”, I reflect back on how much we can learn, at any age, and how, if you think about it, we have the ability to become the best version of ourselves that we can be.

Did I ever think I’d be sharing recipes? Not at all.  I hardly trusted myself to hit 2:00 START on a microwave without burning something, but life’s lessons can be sweet, especially in the kitchen, so here’s that recipe (and the different ways we made it listed in the options below).  It’s been a favorite, and it incorporates foods that are good for balancing blood sugar levels, full of vitamins and minerals and full of antioxidants and health benefits.

But better than that, it just tastes good.

Sweet Summer Salad

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup oil (grapeseed is my favorite, though olive oil is also great)
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves (or garlic to taste)
  • 2 cups of black beans (about 1 can), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onions
  • Optional, add 1/2 cup of chopped celery, 1/2 cup corn or 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
  • Option to serve over baby spinach or kale, with chopped cilantro or avocado.
  • Heat oven to 400°. Bake potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes; gently peel off skins (you can do this with your fingers as they cool). Cube potatoes.

    For dressing, in a bowl (though in all honesty, I mix dressings in water bottle canteens), mix lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.

    In another bowl, mix potatoes, beans, onions and pumpkin seeds; add dressing and toss.

    Chill in the fridge if you have the time for about an hour then serve over the greens…or not.  We love it absolutely plain.

    And if you have some ideas of ways you want to change it, add to it, we’d love to hear them.