Survey: when’s the last time you felt stressed? Is it right now? Was it at work, when a client came to you with an unrealistic deadline? Or at home when your littles are refusing to nap to give you some peace and quiet?
Life is full of potentially stressful situations. At one point in my life I got myself a pile of stress management books…ironically, it was stressful to figure out how to find time to read them (an irony not lost on most of the book authors). While I didn’t make it through all of the books, I do remember learning that we have the power to control our reactions to stressors, which was big news to me at the time. I was used to being reactive, hoping that my increased heart rate and inability to draw boundaries would magically vanish one day when there were somehow no more stressors in my life. Perhaps once this or that in my life fell into place, I would no longer be stressed.
So…that un-stressful time in life? It hasn’t happened yet, and I’m about 99% certain that our decision to adopt a tiny human may put Alex and my chances at slim to none (parents out there, amirite?). However, that lesson has stuck with me: not only can we learn to recognize our stressors, we have power over our reaction to them.
Fast forward to a few months ago; our friend Katie, a Integrative Nutrition Health Coach passionate about nutrition, came to us with a challenge. Would we be able to create a recipe with the best foods to eat in times of stress? She gave us a list of ingredients, Chopped-style: avocado, raw cacao, almonds, citrus (orange or lemon), cauliflower, greens (spinach or kale). Of course, we couldn’t resist the challenge, and especially the tie in to replenishing nutrients in times of stress. What resulted was this Nourish Bowl, our favorite way to make a humble salad into a delightful main dish. Start with a large, deep bowl: add greens, a grain (quinoa, rice), protein (nuts, seeds, beans, tofu), various raw and cooked vegetables, and a tasty dressing, focusing on a variety of colors and textures. I’m not sure whether it’s the huge bowl or the explosion of flavors and textures, but I can’t get enough of these Nourish Bowls. For this one, we incorporated the wildcard ingredient, raw cacao, by making a Cacao Citrus dressing. It adds an earthy complexity to the salad that made thoughtfully savor each bite, instead of plowing through like I normally do. It’s a colorful, cheery salad that makes you feel like a million bucks — and the quinoa makes it filling enough for a main dish meal.
Stay tuned for later this week where Katie will share in a new Healthy + Whole post more about foods to eat in times of stress and stress coping techniques. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you — how do you manage stress?
Why to make it: It’s a delicious and hearty bowl of foods that replenish nutrients in times of stress; the highlight is a zesty cacao citrus vinaigrette.
When to make it: Anytime; it’s most satisfying in fall or winter due to the earthy taste of the vinaigrette (many of the foods are available in fall at farmer’s markets in Indiana).
Caveats: It takes a bit of time to put together the salad components, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Diets: Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free
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- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 small head cauliflower
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 2 carrots
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 avocado
- 6 radishes
- 16 cups spinach leaves
- Kosher salt
- Place 1 cup quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot, and simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. (Check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains.) Turn off the heat and let sit covered to steam for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of water with some ice cubes. Cut the cauliflower into florets. When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower and boil for 2 minutes, until just tender. Remove the florets and place in the cold water for 1 minute, then remove to another bowl.
- Make the dressing (below).
- Place ½ cup almonds a dry skillet and toast over medium low heat, shaking often, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Peel the carrots, then cut them into long, thin strips with a vegetable peeler. Dice the yellow pepper. Slice the avocado. Thinly slice the radishes.
- To serve, place spinach into large serving bowls. Top with the quinoa and vegetables. Sprinkle with kosher salt, then toasted almonds. Drizzle with the cacao citrus dressing.
- 1 orange (4 tablespoons orange juice + zest)
- 2 teaspoons raw cacao or cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Juice and zest the orange.
- In a bowl, vigorously whisk together all ingredients. Store refrigerated.