Summer Salad Series

I genuinely miss salads when they aren’t in my life.  I think it’s because I’m more attuned with my body now and how good I feel after I’ve eaten them.  When I was younger my definition of a salad was iceberg lettuce and grated cheese, but I’ve been inspired by so many different blogs and so many different ingredients, that my plates are much more vibrant now.  I’ve created a small selection of my favourites because they’re the perfect lunch in summer.  You can scroll down to find the recipes or continue reading about my most recent thoughts on dating….

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I went home last weekend for a job interview I didn’t actually go to.  In the end it didn’t feel like the right opportunity but it gave me a reason to go home and see my family; the most important people in my life. On Saturday night my sister and I watched a film called ‘How to be Single’.  As you can probably guess, it was a romantic comedy about how women handle being on their own. I found a few things really interesting; mainly people’s behaviour during a break-up, and secondly the fears around dating someone new.  Thankfully no-one was there but the dogs to witness how ungracefully we devoured a whole block of cheese while we watched it….

After the film had finished, I continued to think about my own experiences of being single over the past seven years.  In this time I’ve dated and had relationships, but the duration has always been for less than a year.  I don’t know what it is, but things just haven’t felt as though they’ve fit. I’ve met people through different on-line sites too and not because I’m currently unhappy single, but because I’ve been curious.  It’s also one of the only ways of establishing what you want and don’t want, while opening your eyes to new people and how they live their lives.  It’s also the fastest way of finding out more about yourself.

The process of dating comes with it’s challenges though as I’m sure we all know…..but do we know why? I think it’s because you have to be vulnerable.  Potentially someone will spend time getting to know you and then decide not to take it any further.  When this happens (and it’s happened to all of us) it triggers all kinds of crazy behaviour like neediness, impulsiveness, anger, anxiety, depression.  This is because there is a part of us that is so desperate for love that we seek it in all the wrong places and then rely on other people to make us happy.  So what if we didn’t anymore? It would change the purpose of dating.  You would date purely to add something extra to an already happy life, a happy life that you have created for yourself because you know who you are and you’re ok with being on your own.  You have your own friends, hobbies and interests and it’s a bonus to share those experiences with someone else if it feels right to both people involved.  You date other people to give of who you are, without any expectations or pressures on yourself or the other person.  You stop acting in destructive ways if the relationship doesn’t lead anywhere and suddenly meeting new people becomes a lot more enjoyable.

I’m someone who believes that people come into your life for a reason, even if that meeting is brief and so I try (try) to date from this open and unattached perspective.  To date maturely, in other words for dating not to negatively effect other areas of your life when things don’t unfold the way you hope they will, you need a strong, unwavering sense of who you are.  More than that, you need to love whoever that is regardless of whether other people do or not. This is a lot easier to intellectually understand or advise others to do, than it is to live yourself.  That said, it is the single biggest factor in determining your experiences and relationships with others.

When you get older (I’m not saying I’m old, just when you get older) and you’ve lived for long enough, you’ve had experiences from both perspectives.  You’ve liked someone who hasn’t liked you and the other way around.  I believe that the wrong person can do all the right things but it doesn’t change the fact you don’t want a relationship with them.  And the right person can do all the wrong things while pushing every button you have, but you still want them in your life.  This is why I believe that when someone doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, you should never lose sight of who you are or beat yourself up for all the things you think you did wrong.  Maybe the universe set things up this way so that you’d go on to meet a better fit. And by better fit, I don’t necessarily mean going on to search for the ‘perfect’ relationship were you never argue and there aren’t any challenges.  But it will be a relationship that you work hard at because its them and you have a connection that is worth staying around for.

I’ve been lucky enough to date and start relationships with men who are caring, funny, ambitious, driven.  I’ve also had a lot in common with some men I’ve met which has made things very easy, but when it comes down to it the only thing I care about is that it feels right.  I know it’s a fluffy thing to say but there is something, chemistry maybe I don’t know that stops all doubt from entering my mind.  I honestly have no idea where this feeling comes from, I only know it when I feel it.  Sometimes that feeling of liking someone before I’ve had a chance to get  to know them, has led me to growth as opposed to a life long relationship…

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The Sunday before I left to come back to London I decided to sort out my bedroom.  One whole side of my room was covered with my ex-boyfriends belongings (don’t ask) and mixed in with his clothes was a pair of old boots that were originally my Mums.  A few years ago she had been forced to give them to me because I had borrowed them without asking and ruined them.  I had met the guy whose clothes I was now packing up to send to a charity shop and I was crazy about him.  The kind of crazy were you don’t feel in control of your own feelings.  I wanted to look nice to impress him and took my mums boots to wear while I watched him in a fitness event on a muddy field.  I went with a good friend and the whole time I watched him (my mums boots getting more and more filthy) he tried to pursue her instead.  That night I got home to a text message off him asking for her number.  Not quite the ending I’d hoped for because not only had I upset my mum and destroyed her shoes, I’d done so for the approval of someone who cared very little about me at that stage.  Sometimes I wish my relationship with him had ended there, but it didn’t.  I grew far more than that as I went through some very painful but necessary experiences throughout our on/off three year relationship.  This may seem like a trivial example to you but it highlights something very important to me; you can’t possibly approve of yourself when you’re desperate to receive it from someone else.

I’ve made many mistakes while dating and to my exhaustion still do.  These hiccups though, have caused me enough pain to see were I need to change and once I’ve picked up the pieces (eaten a large amount of green and blacks chocolate while watching re-runs of prison break, or Luther because WOW!) I open my heart to begin again. Sometimes you’ll get hurt while other people follow the process of what’s right for them. Sometimes you’ll hurt other people in the process of following what’s right for you, but that’s life and that’s were you learn the art of forgiveness and letting go.  If like me you’re currently single, I believe it’s because you’re meant to be.  Maybe you need to grow a little more before the right person shows up.  So do that.  Focus all your energy on becoming the kind of person that would attract the man (or woman) you want to meet.

OK, so potentially a random blog and completely unrelated to healthy food, but one I felt inspired to write on the train back to London anyway.  I hope you enjoyed it, and the salads even more!

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1.Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad
Ingredients:
1 Butternut squash
1/3 cup of lentils (boiled in two cups of water)
200g of arugula
Crumbled Feta
Pumpkin seeds

Dressing:
1/3cup of olive oil
1 tbsp agave syrup/honey/maple syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp chilli
Salt

Method:
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.  Cut your butternut squash into slices or cubes and drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes.  While the butternut squash is roasting cook your lentils.  Pour 2 cups of water over 2/3 cup of lentils, bring to the boil and turn the heat down until the lentils have absorbed all the water.   Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.  Add the arugula, cooked lentils, feta and pumpkin to a plate.  Drizzle over the salad dressing.  This will be enough for two salads.

2.Green Godess Salad with Tahini Dressing
Ingredients:
200g kale
Feta
Pumpkin seeds
5 broccoli stems
1 avocado
5 sprigs of asparagus
A handful of green beans

Dressing:
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp tamari (or soya sauce)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Method:
Put all the kale into a mixing bowl and take off the stems (these aren’t bad for you they just don’t taste particularly nice).  Add the olive oil, tahini, tamari and lemon juice to the kale and massage into the leaves with your hands.  In a pan add a drizzle of olive oil and lightly fry the asparagus, broccoli and green beans and fry for 5-10 minutes.  Chop the avocado, mix in with the kale and top with crumbled feta and pumpkin seeds.  This will be enough for two salads.

3.Watermelon and Feta Salad
Ingredients:
200g arugula
2/3 cup of quinoa (cooked in two cups of water)
1 cup of peas
1 cup of watermelon
Feta
Pumpkin seeds
A few leaves of basil
Salt

Dressing:
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 tbsp honey/agave syrup

Method:
This salad really doesn’t need a method, other than to pour 2 cups of water over 2/3 cup of quinoa and bring to the boil.  Once the water has boiled turn right down and let the quinoa simmer until all the water has been absorbed.  Put all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Mix the olive oil and honey together and pour over the salad.

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