It pains me to say that the holidays are over. Although I live in France I embrace Christmas with an American gusto that would make even Clark Griswald proud. I buy the biggest tree that will fit in my house. I adorn our palm trees with lights although no one can see them behind the big gate and hedges that shield my French neighbors from the awkwardness of ever having to get to know us. Spotify cranks out Christmas carols for a full 30 days straight. My girls, having grown up in France, have never had to sing Christmas carols in a school show and yet they know every word to Let it Snow. I spend weeks wrapping Christmas presents because not even a clementine found in the toe of a stocking isn’t wrapped. On Christmas morning I put on my Santa hat and, to both the delight and frustration of my girls, we open presents one at a time in an effort to make the magical morning last until noon. I just dont want it to end. But sadly it does.
The only saving grace to the holidays ending is that there is hope that I will once again fit in to my skinny jeans. If the holidays lasted forever I wouldn’t need the Santa hat to resemble Mr Claus on Christmas morning – my belly would do just fine. This year the girls and I went skiing for a week after Christmas. It was wonderful but no matter how many runs we did I just don’t think it’s possible to work off the calories of Christmas meals followed by a week of raclette, fondue, vin chaud, crepes, gauffres, etc….not to mention champagne!
So, as sad as I am to say goodbye to the holiday season my bathroom scale is quite ready to say “Adieu!”
My New Years Resolution….
When the kids go back to school next week I will go back to healthy eating. I will also get busy again with work so I need to eat quickly and easily. This is one of my go-to meals when I need a fast, satisfying winter salad that can keep me going for the rest of the day. It has a lovely combination of low-fat cheese, protein packing nuts and satiating beets plus a pop of sour fruit to balance the richness of the other ingredients.
And the heath benefits make up for a few weeks of overindulgence. Beets are high in fiber and vitamin C. Pecans are a healthy fat that promote heart health, energy and weight loss. Pomegranates and cranberries are packed with nutrients, anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting. And feta, a sheep’s milk cheese, is lower in fat and calories than other cheeses so live a little and enjoy the cheese!
If you live in Europe it is very easy to buy cooked beets in the salad section of your supermarket. Living in the US you may not have that luxury but beets are very easy to roast. You can roast a batch on the weekend and keep them in the fridge, ready to slice or chop and throw in to salads throughout the week.
This is how Jamie Oliver taught me to roast beets years ago and it’s been my go-to method ever since. Start by scrubbing the beets well and, if large, slice off the root and cut the beet into equal golf ball size pieces. Tear two large pieces of aluminum foil and line them, slightly overlapping, on a baking sheet. Fold the two overlapping sides of aluminum foil, accordion style, 2-3 times to create one piece of foil with a tight seam. Place the beets on the foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. If you have garlic and thyme throw in a couple whole garlic cloves, peeled, and some thyme sprigs (dont worry if you don’t have garlic and thyme for this recipe). Fold the remaining foil over the beets and seal in a similar accordion style as the bottom seam. Place in a 200C/400F oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes to one hour.Print
Roasted Beet, Feta & Pecan Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
An easy, healthy winter salad
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 25 mins
- Yield: 2 main course servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
- 2 medium – large roasted beets (see above for instructions)
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 cup of dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds or a mixture of both
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- Large handful of fresh mint leaves, torn
- Mixed greens or baby spinach
- 2 Tablespoons (28 ml)maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons balsamic (28 ml)vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
- 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
- Cut the beets into large bite-size chunks
- Toast the pecans in a 180C/350F oven until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. (optional but greatly enhances the flavor of the nuts)
- If using dried cranberries, place them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to plump. Drain. If using pomegranate seeds carefully crack them out of their shell over a bowl of water, allowing the pith to float to the top. Strain and use the seeds for the salad.
- In a bowl combine the greens, feta, pomegranate or cranberry, pecans and beetroot.
- In a small bowl or blender (or Nutribullet) combine the maple syrup, vinegar, mustard and garlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make a thick vinaigrette.
- Serve the salad with the vinaigrette on the side or dress to desired taste.