10 August 2014

Red Leaf Lettuce and Nectarine Salad + Creating a Vision of Wellness

We decluttered and reorganized our bookshelf and office last weekend. As a planner and a checklist lover I consider myself an organized person. But I am less enthused by deep organizational work involving tangible objects, such as organizing the bookshelf, which seems overwhelming to me. While no single step is difficult I paint a mental image of the process being messy and chaotic: pulling down all the books, sorting them into piles to stay or be boxed up, oh and while we're at it rearranging some surrounding furniture, cleaning behind the furniture, then cleaning the bookshelf, and finally re-shelving the books.

But at the end of the day I love the feeling after the work is complete and we are enjoying the space. It's a cleanse for the reading nook and once again makes it feel zen and functional, exactly what I like to achieve in our home. This is the end goal I keep in mind and is what drives me to create a plan of attack, a strategy to get off my butt and tackle a seemingly overwhelming project.

 This mindset also applies to food shopping and preparation. I don't always enjoy the planning and preparation bit. Do you ever feel this way? But I am deeply nourished and satisfied by home-cooked, plant-based, whole food meals showing up on my table. I value what they contribute to my health, my sense of well-being and lifestyle of wellness. Living and cooking this way is a non-negotiable for me because I see how each step supports my vision of wellness.

By creating this vision of wellness we enable ourselves to rise above the daily, mundane tasks and apply meaning to planning, shopping, and cooking (and reorganizing bookshelves!). When our tasks are aligned with our values, we will value our tasks.

What does your vision of wellness look like? What action steps are you taking to achieve that vision? (For inspiration check out this post, especially Lissa Rankin's health cairn.)

This red leaf lettuce salad is a great example of how preparing a meal does not have to be time-consuming nor complicated in order to align with our vision of wellness. I will often make salad for dinner. For a well-rounded salad, I keep a few things in mind.

Eastern medicine traditions, specifically the ancient science of Ayurveda, suggests that balancing the six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent, bitter) in a meal supports balance and health in our body, clarity, and helps us to feel nourished and satisfied, thus diminishing cravings. I try to incorporate as many of these tastes as possible and also balance the macronutrients and textures. I've created a quick reference guide for you below. Hope this is helpful when creating your own salads. And in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this red leaf lettuce salad!

Constructing a Salad
*examples are not exhaustive

  1. Macronutrients
    • Carbs (greens, fresh fruit, dried fruit, leftover grains)
    • Protein (legumes, lentils, quinoa, nuts, eggs, tempeh, seeds, cheese)
    • Fat (avocado, nuts, cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, other cold-pressed oils such as flax)

  1. Textural Components
    • Crunchy (nuts, seeds, lettuce, some vegetables)
    • Chewy (dried fruit, some grains, semi-hard/hard cheese, sun-dried tomatoes)
    • Creamy (avocado, some beans, cheese)
    • Juicy (stone fruit, citrus fruit, tomatoes)

  1. 6 Tastes
    • Sweet (fruit, grain, starchy vegetables, dairy, sugar, honey)
    • Salty (salt, soy sauce, sea vegetables)
    • Sour (citrus fruit, pickled/fermented food, vinegar)
    • Pungent  (mustard, black pepper, ginger)
    • Astringent (lentils, green apples, grape skins)
    • Bitter (dark leafy greens, sprouts, beets)

Red Leaf Lettuce and Nectarine Salad
Serves 1

1 nectarine, chopped
4-5 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 avocado, chopped
Semi-hard goats cheese
Handful pistachios, shelled
A few handfuls red leaf lettuce, chopped

Whole Grain Mustard Dressing
1 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. whole grain mustard
1/2 tsp. honey

Make the dressing in the bottom of a wide bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add salad ingredients on top*, then toss gently with two forks or salad servers.

*If you want to make this 30 minutes or so in advance, add the salad ingredients to the dressing, layering n the order listed. Then toss with dressing when ready to serve. This way lettuce does not get soggy.


  1. I just discovered your blog and really like your philosophy on healthy eating! This salad looks delicious - I love all of the beautiful colors!

    1. Julia, thank you for your comment. It's nice to hear from readers that my thoughts resonate with them (you!). I see from your beautiful blog that we think along the same lines. ;-) And yes, this salad is cheery and easy!

  2. My husband would love me more if I de-cluttered in the way you have, I am sure of it.

    Really like the idea of reflecting on a vision of wellness, and I also like the idea of nectarines to spruce up a salad x

    1. Ha! Well, I wish I could say it's always this de-cluttered, but I would be lying. ;-)

  3. I love your little reading nook! It looks so nice and relaxing! I'm the exact same way as you, I get so overwhelmed when it comes to cleaning and re-organizing, but I am so happy and relieved once it is done. I think I get more overwhelmed when cooking elaborate meals these days because I'm always trying to take photos during the process when all I really want to do is let things cook while I sit around :) I think I'm still trying to figure out my vision of wellness, but I love the idea of Ayurveda and combining all those different tastes into one meal! I bet this salad tastes amazing and I am in love with the mustard dressing!

    1. Thank you Izzy! Relieved is the right word to describe the feeling I have too once the re-organization is complete. And you bring up a good point about our vision of wellness. The vision is something we'll always be working on and shouldn't try to reach a final "draft" of, as it is a fluid and ever-evolving reflection of our different needs at different times in our life. But if we're mindful of our current needs and the fact that they change, and we are empowered to take steps (even baby steps) towards those needs now, then we have laid the foundation for a wellness lifestyle.

  4. Oh boy! An organized book self! I cannot imagine- that is a luxury I have not enjoyed for a long time.

    1. Ha, well it's organized at least for now. We'll see how long it can last. ;-)

  5. Love, love, love salads with a sweet note. Amazing dish.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    xo Elisa


  6. Beautiful salad, a feast for the eyes (and belly)! :) And what a cozy and calm space you have, perfect for snuggling up with a good book!


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