Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blueberry Fennel Salad with Ginger Lime Dressing

We all know a little bit about my dabbling into the realm of cleanses. I have never gone to extremes, eating nothing but psyllium husk or scoops of fiber in a morning shake, nor have I followed one particular cleanse so closely that I reached that point of "clarity" after that "lightheaded" uncomfortable feeling that arises out of starving. I have tried to incorporate herbal tea and lemon water into my morning routine, alternated between hot and cold bursts in the shower, and taken on the habit of regular brief massages to get my blood moving (still can't get on board with the body brushing though - I have a hard time brushing my hair much less the bottom of my feet). In the end, I have never ended a cleanse feeling completely remade. Except for the stomach bug I got a few weeks ago - THAT was a cleanse.

While the thought of so many "failed" cleanses seems disappointing at first, I think it's mostly because I don't eat a ton of crap as part of my normal diet. Yes even vegan diets can be full of crap. Still, the cleanse for me has always been more about the idea than the execution. When I've been eating too many processed foods, overeating because of stress/boredom, or eating out too much, I start to feel the idea coming on. So no surprise around the holidays, this crazy friend of mine sent me a link to Reboot, a website aimed at getting people to eat more fruits and veggies. Ok it does have a plan that is kind of like a cleanse, but reading through the 15 day plan was actually encouraging. You eat food. Not too much and mostly plants (to quasi-quote Michael Pollen in In Defense of Food). The only issue I have is the protocol for Day 6 through 10. Only juice. No food. No way.

I'm an athlete, I need energy, I've got the need to move. I can't do a 4-day juice stretch even it's supposed to shock my liver into supercharge mode and make my next night out at the pub that much less damaging. I at least need enough to get me through an intense yoga class. So me and this red head friend sat down to try and tweak the reboot to be more sustainable - not surprising coming from the queen of reading recipes and not following them. Same thing here. Reboot offers several recipes for each day. The first salad of Day 1 is an Arugula, Fennel, Avocado Salad, but I came up with this one here. It's more fun, and has an incredible, fresh taste that doesn't leave you feeling like you "only ate a stupid salad".

What I love about this salad is that it's something you would eat as part of a "diet" but it's also something classy and crisp that I'd serve at a dinner party. The smooth avocado and tart dressing are a perfect accompaniment to the crisp and crunchy fennel and radishes. I highly recommend checking out the website, and even if you don't choose to do the whole shabang, it's a good snapshot of what you might need to do if you really want to take a break from the good ole American eating frenzy. Ready, set, reboot!

Blueberry Fennel Salad with Ginger Lime Dressing
Makes: 3-4 servings
Prep time: 10-15 minutes


For the salad
4 cups mixed baby greens (spinach, arugula, watercress, frisee)
1 c. fennel, thinly sliced
3/4 c. blueberries
3/4 c. red cabbage, thinly sliced
4 medium easter radishes (or any other type), thinly sliced
1 small avocado, thinly sliced
2-4 T. fresh dill, chopped
2-4 T. fresh fennel fronds, chopped (optional)

For the dressing
2-3 T. freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/2 T. rice vinegar
1/2 T. mild tasting oil, such as canola or sunflower (optional)
1/2 T. fresh ginger, minced or grated
1/2 T. agave nectar
1/4 tsp. salt


To prepare the salad: place greens in a large serving bowl. Layer the remaining fruit and vegetables on top and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

To prepare the dressing: mix all ingredients in a small bowl. To make a low fat dressing, skip the oil and replace with a touch more agave if the dressing is to sour for your taste. Season with salt to taste (beware - too much salt will overpower the freshness of the salad).

To serve: lightly toss the salad with the dress and divide between 3 or 4 bowls.

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