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A Fresh Way to Start the New Year

I know it is cliche, but I was feeling a little depleted and not quite myself when 2016 came to a close, so I decided to do a cleanse. I needed to re-set my body/mind/spirit, and I have done these types of things many times before, but I know that to accomplish this, setting an intention is not enough. Action is the next, very important step, so I decided to make a slightly more public commitment than just a promise to myself.

That is how my 2017 New Years 21 day Re-set Cleanse came to be. Now a dozen or so others connect each day on a newly created Facebook group to support one another and share ideas, challenges and inspiration as we navigate our way through the next 3 or so weeks, hoping to break old habits and clear some space for fresh new energy to fuel our dreams. Can't really manifest the best if we are not feeling our best.

Luckily I had exposure to good simple eating growing up from my lovely Mama, Lucia. She taught me how to make a salad that is open to all possibilities but not over cluttered with stuff. Too often we think salad is the healthy alternative, but then load it up with creamy dressings, cheese, and not so fresh vegetables. Making it right isn't so hard, especially these days when fresh greens are in every market, oftentimes already washed. And sprouts, avocados, fresh herbs are commonplace, compared to the 70's when organic was not mainstream at all.

Here is the recipe...


My mother taught me this method of creating the perfect green salad. She claimed that in America we put too many different colors in our salads and that simple green salad is the best. We also tend to think of salad as a vehicle for all kinds of creamy, heavy salad dressings when a light coating of olive oil and vinegar (or my preference- lemon juice) will do. The secret to this salad is the way we dress it: the oil, lemon and seasonings are mixed right in the bottom of the salad bowl and then applied by tossing the salad. That way the leaves get evenly coated and not drenched by the weight of the dressing poured from above. I am listing my personal favorite ingredients below but feel free to make it your own.

  • the greens: boston lettuce, baby spinach, arugula, mesclun greens

  • the nuts (optional of course): toasted pine nuts, slivered almonds or pecans

  • the crunch: slivered fennel root, celery, carrot, jicama, cabbage or sliced cucumber

  • avocado is always welcome!

  • the fruity accent (if desired): thinly sliced crisp apple or pear and/or dried cranberries

  • the herbs: fresh mint leaves, cilantro, parsley or basil coarsely chopped

  • the cheese (optional): fresh goat cheese, feta or shaved parmesan

  • the dressing extra virgin olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice or vinegar (balsamic, apple cider or wine vinegar) with squeezed fresh garlic clove, dijon mustard and kosher salt and/or pepper.

Wash and dry the salad greens and set aside. I often buy a couple of fresh organic heads of lettuce at the Farmers Market, wash thoroughly, spin dry and then store in zip lock bags in the fridge for fast prep. Then I mix with arugula, spinach and/or mesclun greens.

Toast the nuts in a dry pan over a moderate heat until golden and cool.

This is the brilliant part: Make the dressing in the bottom of the bowl. No need to shake in a jar or, worse, buy bottled dressing. This way the weight of the dressing doesn't saturate the delicate leaves and everything is ready to be tossed just before serving. Combine the elements for the dressing: The correct proportion is 3 parts oil to 1 part lemon/vinegar and the other condiments to taste. Meanwhile chop your crunchy vegetables and herbs. Add to the salad bowl and coat with dressing. Add the apple and pear if desired as well as toasted nuts. These items can sit in the dressing until you are ready to eat. Just before serving add the greens and toss well, coating all the leaves with dressing and distributing ingredients well. Add bits of cheese at the last minute (if you want) and serve.

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