And we’re off!!!

Thursday afternoon at 4:30pm, the bell rang and outdoor market season officially began! Marking the start of Season 2 for The Divine Sprout. The next few months will be full of markets, events and outdoor awesomeness (see Where We Are for a full season line-up). Incase you missed it, Thursday’s Esquimalt Farmer’s Market was amazing. We moved to our sweet new location in Memorial Park – energy was high, heaps of neighbours came to check it out and the community was buzzing. You will find us there weekly from now until September 14th.

Things have been busy lately, no doubt about that – both personally and professionally. Troy and I tied the knot on the 13th and are finally getting back to “normal” after a couple of whirlwind weeks. And trust me, I use the term “normal” very loosely. It feels so good to get back into the kitchen and get creating, cooking and blogging.

For today’s post, I offer salad. But not just any salad. Leave your salad judgment at the door and hear me out. Salad is SO much more than leaves and dressing. For real. Crunchy fresh vegetables, lively shapely leaves, toppings galore and dressing possibilities without limits. So often salads are seen only as a side, an afterthought or – even worse – garnish. There are so many beautiful possibilities when it comes to making salad, which are great for filling you up without making you feel sluggish or lethargic. Bright, beautiful, crispy, juicy, and heavenly. Amongst all of the dietary concerns and restrictions out there, salad is often a pretty safe bet.

So how do you avoid falling into the slump of salad sadness? Variety and care. Start with your greens (not iceberg lettuce, please), add some other vegetables (variety here is key – think colour, shape, size, texture, taste, raw, cooked, steamed, blanched), add a whole grain for maximum fibre (rice, buckwheat noodles, toasted buckwheat, quinoa, wheat berries, freekeh, barley, bulgur) and some form of protein (chickpeas, sprouts, beans, lentils, quinoa, nuts, seeds) and other toppings of choice. Finish it off with homemade dressing of choice or just a drizzle of olive oil et voila. Sometimes thinking a little outside the box goes along ways with keeping things freshusing avocado in your dressing, switching up your greens, slicing your veggies differently (spiralizing or using a mandolin), keeping a good assortment of nuts and seeds on hand for topping.

Not only are the flavour options enticing, but the health benefits of salad are bountiful. Often low in sugar with the exception of some natural sugars from honey and fruits if using, easily gluten free, vegan, salt free, starch free – whatever you need, salad has an option. Plus, salads can be made differently every time, depending on what’s in your refrigerator and/or what needs to be used up.

My salad pictured here consists of basic mixed greens, with some arugula (be sure to wash and fully dry first or you’ll have a pool at the bottom of your dish!), shredded carrots, marinated artichoke hearts, sautéed asparagus, cooked black forbidden rice, topped with hemp hearts, sunflower seeds home grown organic sprout mix and honey mustard vinaigrette. If using freshly cooked, warm ingredients, allow them to cool slightly or keep them off to the side of your dish (as I’ve done here with the black rice). This will prevent your lettuce from instantly wilting from the heat!

Here’s the recipe for this honey mustard dressing you can whip up and store in your refrigerator. Feel free to adjust to your taste preferences.

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a sealable lid, replace the lid and shake vigorously to combine. Store in the fridge.

Happy mixing!