I’ve been thinking a lot about living foods recently. There are a lot of definitions out there of what it means for a food to be “living” but to me, it means that it’s a food that was once alive (or, maybe still alive in the case of the sprouts in this salad) and is as close to its living state as possible. That means things like raw, freshly-picked fruits and veggies, sprouted grains, seeds and legumes, and raw dairy products. It doesn’t mean that processing or cooking those things is bad for you, but I do notice that when I try to focus on keeping things as close to the way they come out of the ground as possible, I feel my best. I know a lot of folks go completely raw, but I’m a big believer in all things in moderation, and making sure I have a strong raw component in my diet is one of the ways I stay feeling my best.
And of course, there is the opposite of living foods, too. I’ve heard mention of dead foods. Foods that maybe once were living (say, sugar cane) and are beaten and processed and assaulted until they create a product that might be 100% natural but is also 100% dead. Again, I’m all about moderation, so I’m not about to cut cupcakes out of my life forever, but I think the concept of focusing on more living foods and less dead foods is a nice way to guide yourself through the tricky landscape of healthy eating.
I’d consider this salad to be a pretty good picture of a living food. Admittedly, I’m not a huge salad fan. I know some people who eat giant mixing bowls full of salad for lunch everyday and say it’s super yummy and incredible, but that just isn’t me. I’d always rather have a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a beer for lunch (yum). Usually, for me, salad is something I tack onto dinner when I realize we don’t have nearly enough veggies. And then, when we do sit down to eat it, I scarf through it first so I can get it out-of-the-way before starting on my real dinner.
This salad is definitely not a scarfing-because-you-have-to-get-in-your-veggies salad. It’s a sit-in-disbelief-because-you’re-actually-enjoying-a-salad-almost-as-much-as-a-bacon-cheeseburger kind of salad.
The original inspiration from this recipe comes from The Growing Season (an incredible little whole foods restaurant in Babyface’s hometown, which I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about). They have a standard house salad that includes sprouts and a really delicious tahini dressing that I just couldn’t get out of my head.
When I was checking out their menu later, I also saw they had a “Living Salad” on the menu. Really, their living salad and my living salad are similar in name only—my version is closer to their house salad—but I just loved the concept of calling a salad living. I mean, is there any question that a salad is stupendous for you when it’s got the word living in its name? No, probably not.
Living Salad with Lemon-Sesame Dressing
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: None
Makes: 4 servings
For the Salad
- 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 2 cups chopped baby spinach
- 1/2 large cucumber, sliced
- 1/2 cup lentil sprouts
- 1/2 avocado, cubed
- 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
For the Dressing
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- In a large salad bowl, mix together the lettuce and spinach until well-combined. On top of mixture, sprinkle cucumber, sprouts, avocado, tomatoes, parsley and pumpkin seeds. Set aside.
- In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all the dressing ingredients. Tighten lid to jar and shake until well-combined—making sure the tahini has mixed in. Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately.
Serving size: About 1-1/2 cups salad and 2 tablespoons dressing. Servings per recipe: 4.