Can it be that spring has finally decided to grace us with its presence? Tentative buds peek from beneath the scraggy clay, ennervated blades of grass sun themselves daily, waiting to transform from brittle, strawlike shoots to brilliant green fringes undulating in tranquil breezes. The sun is finally blazing overhead, causing pedestrians to peel off successive layers of clothing, first hat, then gloves, then scarf, then jacket as they stroll along, like human illustrations of the the classic Aesop fable.
Okay, enough with the purple prose!
Bah, spring, I say. I know; you’d think I’d be ecstatic, wouldn’t you? After all, I consider myself the unrivalled Queen of Wrath Against Winter. In contrast to the frozen, snowy season, spring is a harbinger of new life. Flowers. Gurgling streams. Picnics in the park and “Paris in the-the.” And yet, and yet. . . despite all this, spring has made me grumpy. Why?
Well, this might give you an idea:
Spring, circa 1960s:
It’s late March, and Ricki is jumping with excitement. Spring means it’s time for the annual visit to Uncle L (not to be confused with Uncle S of the Planters Peanuts jar–no fun!) over at the coat factory. Uncle L worked in the fashion district of Montreal, and once a year, Ricki’s mum took her and her two sisters to the factory so they could choose a new spring jacket–at wholesale prices!
What could be better? A two-hour bus ride to the mysterious, exotic East End of Montreal (the all-Francophone area, into which they never ventured otherwise); where everything was interesting and new, from the dark plumes of smoke that snaked across the sky from factory chimneys to the stray newspapers and empty plastic bags that swished across the neglected streets to the staccato joual that echoed down the alleys as they drove by. All of it was fun and exhilarating–and best of all, it culminated in a new coat! Whee!
Spring, Circa 1980s:
Ricki and her two best friends from CEGEP are excited. March means they’re going to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break–their first vacation on their own and without parents!
What could be better? A shared hotel room in a beachside hotel. Six days sunning on the sand, lounge chairs and drinks by the cabana, three meals a day in restaurants. Evenings clearing the sand out of your swimsuit, getting gussied up and meeting scores of other twenty-somethings at bars and clubs. All of it was fun and exhilarating–and best of all, it culminated in a shopping spree (in American shopping malls, no less, with all those great brands we can’t get at home!) Wheeee!
Spring, Circa March 22, 2009, 4:15 PM:
Spring means taxes. What could be worse?
Grumbling while I gather my scattered paperwork from throughout the year, spend three hours organizing it into neat little piles across the kitchen table, then three more hours with a pad of paper and calculator, tallying up the numbers again and again and again, just to be sure. . . Whoah.
Spring means mud. Lots and lots of mud. What could be worse?
Wiping eight muddy paws, two muddy bellies and an occasional muddy chest two or three times a day over the course of the spring season (a locker room post-football game on a rainy day doesn’t even begin to compete with these muddy canine torsos). Walking dogs in springtime. . . .Whoah.
[“Mum, to be fair, we really don’t have a choice about the fur on the belly thing. . . unlike Dad, for instance.”]
Spring means a yard that resembles, just a little too close for comfort, that mountainous pile of garbage and muck that Roy builds in his kitchen in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Could it be any worse?
After all the snow and ice have melted, the ground underneath has heaved and repositioned itself, and the previously unmowed grass has wilted and yellowed, falling in heaps and whorls like matted hair shaved from an unkempt Goldendoodle (or was that an unkempt Joaquin Phoenix?)–what’s left is a sodden, muddy, tawny and gray yard that serves little purpose other than as bathroom for your dogs (see “Spring means mud,” above)–and awaits hours of your physical labor to clean it up and make it presentable. Whoah.
Am I being a tad too negative? Perhaps. After all, taxes mean I actually have a job (something for which I’m extremely grateful in these hard times). And muddy paws means I have two furry, exuberant Girls to brighten my every day. A yard means I can finally, finally learn how to garden (remember last year’s monstrous mint fiasco?).
And so, as an attempt to bridge the gap between winter and spring, I decided to make this salad.
This is a recipe I created several years ago for a cooking class entitled, “Anti Candida Feast” (a rather ambitious title, I think now). At the time, I wasn’t following the ACD myself, but had been asked by a few previous participants for an ACD-friendly menu. And while I adore juiced beets (my favorite combo is beet, carrot, ginger and a whack of greens), I’ve never been a fan of raw beets in any other context. I’ve always thought of beets as more of a winter veggie, to be roasted or boiled into soup. This salad seemed the perfect means to combine the spirit of spring (in a raw dish) with these lovely crimson roots.
When I told the HH I was making a raw beet and carrot salad for dinner, his response was, “Blecccchhhh. Beets taste like dirt.”
“But they’re good for your blood,” I countered.
“Don’t care,” he said. “Dirt.”
“But they cleanse the liver!”
“My liver is clean enough.”
“But” (and here, I admit I was reaching a bit)–“they can help test your transit time!”
“Transit time?? You mean, like, how long it takes the beets to go in one end and come out the oth—”
“Okay, now I really don’t want to eat those beets.”
I mixed up the salad anyway, planning to consume it on my own. But something about the vibrant colors, the springlike fuscia and orange, the heady aroma of lime and cilantro in combination, persuaded him to take a bite. And in the end, he loved it!
“This doesn’t taste like beets at all,” he said, chewing on a mouthful of beets.
Seeing him devour that plate of salad, I felt happy to welcome the spring. Exhilarated, even.
Crimson Salad with Pecans and Pumpkin Seeds
This vibrant, refreshing salad combines the brisk tang of lime with the natural sweetness of beets and carrots. Crunchy pecans and pumpkinseeds offer textural contrast and a protein boost. A great spring salad!
1 large beet, peeled (it should be fresh and firm)
2 large carrots, peeled
1/2 cup (50 g) chopped pecans or other nuts, lightly toasted (I used Brazil nuts in the photos above)
1/4 cup (35 g) pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
3 Tbsp (45 ml) chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
pinch fine sea salt
Using the medium grater on a food processor, mandolin, or hand grater, grate the beets and carrots and place in a medium bowl with the nuts and the seeds. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, oil, cilantro and salt. Pour over the beet-carrot mixture and toss to coat everything well. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Will keep, refrigerated, for 2 days.
Suitable for: ACD All stages; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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