Friday, December 31, 2010

The Big Apple Goddess Salad

When I was a kid, I was probably the pickiest eater known to parents.  Rivaling Mikey from the Life cereal commercials, my best friend's mom used to tease me that the only thing she made sure to have in the house when I spent the night was the ingredients for a good ol' PB & J (although, cream cheese was usually my sandwich filling of choice back in those days).  You couldn't have gotten me to eat a salad if you'd topped it with whipped cream and hot fudge.  In fact, up until I did a raw detox/cleanse and began frequenting local farmers' markets this past summer, I was probably the only vegan I'd heard of who loathed being invited out to dinner for fear the only thing I'd be able to order would be a heaping plate of wilted iceberg topped with a few shreds of lack-luster veggies and a couple slices of bland tomato.  Not to mention the fact that I'd probably have to eat the dazzling plate of vegan goodies with no dressing, or settle for rancid olive oil and maybe some vinegar just to wet and flavor the dish.

Only when I visited New York did I feel comfortable ordering a salad, knowing that salad in this beautiful city did not mean what it does in Indianapolis.  Granted, my amazing aunt, affectionately called AJ, took me to some of her favorite restaurants, and rarely did we eat at an establishment that my friends and I would choose on our own.  However, it still seemed to me that the face of salad in the Big Apple was a whole different one than that of the Circle City.

I knew I had to broaden my green horizons, and going raw for 4 weeks gave me just the canvas to do so.  I loved picking up ingredients from the farmers' markets that I normally wouldn't choose at the grocery store.  I tried greens I'd never tried, and tried to get creative with toppings and dressings.  I now LOVE salads, and find myself craving the fresh, raw, clean goodness of salad when I have gone too long (note, a day or so), without one.  If you are like I used to be, a salad-hater, I encourage you to try new combinations and find ones you like.  Greens are not all created equal.  I still detest iceberg, and while I love romaine for lettuce wraps and in the occasional green smoothie, I rarely use it in a salad.  I almost never have carrots on my salads, either.  I admit, I still have some experimenting to do, but I do have a few tried and true recipes that never fail to satisfy my tastebuds and cleanse my insides.

Here is one of my favorite combinations.  I love to take this one to work.  It's quick to make, and the creamy avocado mixed with the tart apple is delicious.  The dressing is simple and oil-free!

*1 head boston/bibb lettuce
*1/2 - 1 sm. apple (I like a tart pink best, but I had Granny Smith this time, which is also delightful), cored and cubed
*1/2 avocado, cubed
*1/2 lemon, juiced
*dash sweetener (my favorite is agave, but herbal stevia is good as well)
*sea salt/fresh black pepper to taste

Rinse and dry lettuce; tear or slice into bite sized pieces.  Top with cubed apples and avocado.  Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper..

To make dressing, combine lemon juice and sweetener and whisk.  Drizzle over salad.

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