“Brain Food”

As many of you have heard (enough of, I’m sure!) last week was a monumental week for me.  I finally…  after putting it off for six years, passed the NCE (National Counselor Examination)!  This was a frightening task for me, as I’ve been out of grad school since 2006, have had babies, raised babies; and my brain sometimes feels as if it’s been through the extra-hot wash cycle on my dishwasher about 100 times over. Fact-retention has never been my unique ability, let’s just say.  So I was beyond thrilled to see a high passing score on this exam!

During my study time, I felt like I could feel the neural connections in my brain–and body–literally going through cycles that I imagine muscles going through during intense workouts.  It was as if every neural connection made or strengthened required massive amounts of nourishment for optimal functioning and recovery.  And I sounded like I’d been doing intense workouts–everyday, I heard myself stating, “God, my brain hurts!”

Thankfully, I have some sense of how the food I eat impacts my brain potential…  and I know that feeding brain cells–mitochondria–Is really important to a happy healthy brain and body.  So I made a point of focusing on my self-care A LOT during the intensity of crazy study hours, days & weeks!  My food was–and is–my fuel for thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, Mindfulness, self-soothing, and ultimately for my ability to relate well with others.  When I’m practicing good self-care, I can ultimately nourish my relationships with a healthy, grounded perspective–and the energy to back it up!

As time would have it, I was preparing for this exam during the final days of my lovely garden growing season.  The last of many greens and veggies were finding their way into unique food combinations so that I could use every last bit!  This year, I grew beets for the first time and, WOW!  I love beets in salads!  Especially salads with a sweet and savory blend.

I made the following recipe during a study break–I felt like I was so craving the physical practice of nourishing myself, and these ingredients just seemed to make their way into my bowl together in a way that was completely satisfying, in both the creation process and the indulgence in taste sensation!

I will mention that the EVOO & Balsamic came from a really wonderful little store in downtown Littleton, Colorado called EVOO–it’s literally a “tasting bar” for olive oils and balsamic vinegars!  Amazing.  If you can’t find anything similar, just keep the flavor combinations in mind.  My mouth waters just thinking about it!

Arugula, Beet & Fresh Fig Salad

Ingredients:

3 Cups fresh, organic baby arugula

4-5 Medium-large fresh Beets, boiled for about 30 minutes and peeled, then cut into quarters

5-6 Large fresh Figs, ends cut off and quartered

4 Green onions, chopped

¼ Purple onion, thinly sliced

About ¼ Cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Top with crumbled goat cheese

Dressing:

½ Cup Butter-infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

⅛ Cup Cranberry Pear White Balsamic

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp dried Shallots

Salt & Pepper to taste

Enjoy!

I do hope this salad is one that people will explore and share over and over.  Maybe because I have such positive feelings regarding how nourished it felt to me during intense anxiety…  I definitely think this one’s a keeper!

 

PROSCIUTTO & FIG SALAD

Ahhh…..  the tiny bit of free time I’m experiencing with the kiddos in school is definitely allowing some breathing room!  Today, I took advantage and after teaching my dance class, found myself wondering around Old Town Littleton, as I needed to stop by my favorite spice store, Savory.  Just after I picked up a few of my favorite herbs and spices, I found a lovely shop next door, called EVOO Marketplace—filled with fragrant and rich flavored Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars.  And they’re a tasting shop!!  Lucky me!

The dressing that was inspired by a few taste combinations lead to a perfectly paired salad that I can’t seem to get enough of!  Here it is… 

Prosciutto & Fig Salad

With Pomegranate, Candied Pecans & Goat Cheese

Salad:

2 Cups Mixed Greens (Arugula works very well, mixed with some other rich, leafy greens)

4-5 Diced Green Onions

¼ thinly Sliced Purple Onion

About 8 Fresh Figs, cut into small pieces

4-5 Slices Prosciutto, chopped

Pomegranate seeds—from approximately ½ of a whole pomegranate

1/4 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese

Large handful of Candied Pecans

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I “bathe” my pecans in olive oil + (vegan) butter, brown sugar, salt, & a bit of maple syrup, and roast in the oven on a cookie sheet for about 15 min. on about 400 degrees

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Dressing:

¼ Cup Organic Butter Infused Olive Oil (completely vegan—from EVOO Marketplace)

2 TBS Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar (EVOO Marketplace)

½ tsp Dijon Mustard

½ tsp Cantanzaro Herbed Seasoning Salt (Savory):  (This particular blend includes garlic, lemon peel, marjoram, basil, Mediterranean thyme, rosemary and oregano)

½ tsp Freeze Dried Shallots (Savory)

A few drops of fresh lemon juice

Mix Salad ingredients, top with dressing, add salt & pepper to taste and ENJOY!!