Arugula & Red Cabbage Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Happy happy new year! I am back and have certainly missed blogging. The last two weeks I've been cooking up a storm. From meatball soup with kabocha squash and carnitas to apple crisp and persimmon cookies, I've certainly gotten my fill of rich food. You know you've had enough holiday eating when you wake up craving water and a salad. Something clean and refreshing, please! That being said, there's not one bite of holiday goodness I would give back. December for me is a month to let go, enjoy, and ring in the new year with love and self acceptance. Now I don't go crazy, like downing a box of See's candy, but if I want a persimmon cookie (or 4) I eat it. What's amazing too is that when I give myself permission to have what I want, I end up eating less. It's just not as much fun to gorge myself when I'm allowed to.

I haven't always been so ZEN about holiday eating, however. Consumed by guilt and fear of weight gain, holiday gatherings were a serious emotional ordeal. I constantly worried about what I ate, how much, and the caloric ramifications of my sugar-laden actions. Each bite of double chocolate cheesecake brought about simultaneous feelings of pleasure and pain. I loved my Mom's homemade cheesecake with its creamy decadence yet with eat bite, up went the calorie tab in my head. And of course the worst part of my eating insanity was the more I stressed about my food and tried to restrict it, the more I shoved into my face. I remember inhaling cranberry pear tart at midnight because earlier in the evening I stated I was done eating tarts! The more aggressive and restrictive I got, the more my inner child rebelled. "No more desserts, you say? I'll show you!!!" And of course who ended up stuffed to the gills and anxiety ridden after such a binge...me!

This nasty cycle went on for years and didn't really clear up until I started looking at food as a way to nourish and heal myself rather than a mechanism for control. I think it's almost impossible to take the emotionality out of eating. However, when we nourish ourselves in the context of self-care, gratitude, and love, the urge to stuff our over-active neurosis with food melts away. I now take the food I need, thank my tummy for digesting all I put into it, and I'm done.

How the heck did I even get on this topic? Oh right, craving salad. So here is my way of balancing out the heaviness of holiday fare and guilt...a bright winter salad! This combo is a great mix of textures with a fantastic sweet and pungent punch. Cabbage and arugula are also helpful detox foods, making this salad perfect for cleansing the system after unaccountable cookies and too much champagne.

Arugula & Red Cabbage Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 3-4

3/4 of 1 head organic red cabbage 2 cups arugula, washed 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped 3 scallions, chopped 2-3 tablespoons unrefined and peppery olive oil (my fav is Bariani) 2 tablespoons sweet balsamic vinegar (my fav is again, Bariani) 1 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 cup dry roasted almonds, chopped

Start by shredding the cabbage. Place cabbage on it's flat end and cut in half. Cut in half again, which gives you 4 quarters. Place one quarter in the fridge for another time. Slice cabbage into thin strips, avoiding the white core. Cut the cabbage strips in half and place in a large bowl. Add in the arugula, cilantro, mint and scallions. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and toss well. Top with almonds and serve. Enjoy!

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