Recipe: Fall Harvest Salad

Every November my child’s school has a Thanksgiving feast and I always make a giant kale-based (I don’t like lettuce…too wilty) salad. The first picture shows the salad before I dressed it, the second image is a few ours later after I tossed it. Note that the chunks of Granny Smith Apple are still nice and white. When apples become brown it’s because they’ve begun to oxidize, but you can avoid this simply by tossing them with a little lemon juice. And if you’ve never had kabocha squash, check out last year’s post where I talk a little more about it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to add the dressing no more than 20-minutes before you will serve the salad or the kale gets too wilty (for my taste at least!!!) Enjoy and be a spark in the world.

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Fall Harvest Salad
3-Bunches of Lacinato Kale
4-small Granny Smith apples (or 2 large)
3-cups of cooked and refrigerated Kabocha squash cubed
1-1/2 cups of walnut pieces
1-cup of dried goji berries
2-large avocadoes
3-large lemons
olive oil and sea salt (I always dress with an olive oil that has a buttery taste, many olive oils have a peppery finish that I don’t care for so I avoid those)

Cut a Kobocha squash, remove its seeds and cook at 300-degrees for one-hour or until soft when poked with a fork. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until you are going to make the salad. This can be done up to 2-days before.

Remove the kale leaves from their center stalk and chop or rip. Cube Granny Smith apples and squeeze half a lemon over them and toss until fully coated. Cut the Kabocha squash from its skin and cube it. Cube avocado. Toss the rest of the ingredients in with the kale. Squeeze the rest of the lemons and then add olive oil and salt to taste.  Enjoy!

If you like this recipe check out last year’s salad too.

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An Exercise in Happiness

Science has shown that giving thanks and reflecting on one’s blessings is an excellent way to raise your level of happiness, and since this is the week of Thanksgiving I thought I would blog about a written exercise I did years ago that has stuck with me to this day.

The exercise is really quick, write down the first 20-things that you think of when I say, “what are your favorite things to do that make you happy?”  Probably many of us will interpret “favorite” and “happy” in different ways, but I want you to consider not just the things that you think are “whee fun” like a roller-coaster, but the things in life that give you a sense of satisfaction and contentment.  Feel free to write more than 20.  Do this now.  If you haven’t written down your list of things then don’t read any farther.  Once you are down with your list you can read below.  I’m going to write down my list so you can’t read any farther without scrolling.

My top 20 things that make me happy:

1) Spend time, especially outdoors, with my family

2) Do something outdoors: Hike, bike, ski, play soccer, play tennis, dance, play handball, swim, spelunk, boulder, sail

3) Take a yoga class

4) Read a book, especially Jane Austen or Sherlock Holmes

5) Watch a favorite movie, especially a comedy

6) Do something crafty

7) Cook

8) Travel

9) Camp

10) Talk with a friend

11) Have tea with friends

12) Have a picnic

13) Go antiquing (I don’t even have to buy anything, I just like looking)

14) Finish a project around the house

15) Organize, edit, style my closet

16) Sing, especially with a group

17) Write a song

18) Take a walk through a garden or a forest

19) Host parties

20) Create a new recipe

Okay, once you’ve written down your list, go back through your list and put a “$” sign before anything that takes more than $20 to do.  For instance on my list only 4 of the 20 things cost more than $20 to do: skiing, traveling, camping and hosting parties.  The first time I did this exercise I was in my 20’s and it was a REVELATION to me that most of my favorite things could be done for little to no money.   It can be easy to associate money with happiness, but the reality is that often the deepest satisfaction in life comes from things that are simple and inexpensive to do and can often be done on a daily basis.  I find that there are often themes that can be found in common among different lists, because the reality is that most humans find deep satisfaction in: 1) spending time with loved ones, 2) being engaged in creative pursuits and 3) being engaged in physical activities.  These are activities that not only make us happy, but are also very good for our health physically, mentally and emotionally.  If you had difficulty coming up with your list of 20-things that make you happy, try it again now and see what’s different.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  I wish you health and happiness.  Namaste.