Carrot Lentil Salad

Carrots and LentilsWell, I said that I was going to do a series on salads, and I completely dropped the ball on that. So, now, post-graduation festivities, and as a means of procrastinating on efforts for my upcoming move… salads it is!

I’ll begin with the one I actually made today! I originally posted this in August, of last year. It is one of my favorite go-to recipes, especially when I buy a gang of carrots for something else. This time, I enlisted my step-brother to over-buy carrots for the cold sesame noodles that I made for my graduation get together. Oops, but one that converts into one of the most satisfying salads that I make, regularly.

You can make this way ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, undressed. I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to a single portion, which made this super sweet but still delicious! I also recommend squeezing about 1/2 a lemon or so on it (you may want to serve it with lemon wedges, so folks can decide for themselves). The very earthy worlds of carrot and lentils feel lifted, just a tad, with the acid. During winter, I suggest leaving the acid off, for something far more comforting.

As I said in my original post: All of the flavor comes from the lentils, and the salad is dressed simply, with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Do not dress until you are ready to serve and eat, as the salad will simply absorb the oil and become really dry (I do add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl I carry to work for lunch–but it is certainly better when it is freshly dressed).


  • 1 c dry whole red lentils
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 t whole fennel seed
  • 1/2 t whole coriander
  • 1/2 t whole cumin
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • 1 unsalted veggie bullion
  • 3-4 large carrots, grated
  • salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste
  • additional dressing, if desired: 1-1/2 t balsamic vinegar or the juice of one lemon


  1. In a mortar, add the cumin and coriander, and crack with a pestle (not a fine grind, but until coriander is in 1/2 pieces or so)
  2. Add to a saucepan: the lentils, wine, water, bay, fennel, coriander, cumin, pepper, and bullion.
  3. Cover and bring the saucepan to a soft boil.  Once boiling, uncover the pan and turn the heat down to medium, and cook lentils until tender but not falling apart (20-30 minutes).
  4. Drain the lentils (if needed), and pull the bay leaf.  Cool lentils to at least room temperature.
  5. Combine the carrots and lentils.  Add salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.  Serve.

My Journal: Reading The Weight Escape, cont.

I know it’s been a very long time since I started reading The Weight Escape and journalling about it. I will admit, some of that has to do with my own avoidance of how I’ve been feeling in my body and my assumptions about the efforts it will take to bring myself to a state of health with which I am comfy. I have been avoiding.

I tend to avoid, when something isn’t pleasant. I prefer to run and hope something blows over or spontaneously fixes (which never happens), rather than look at it straight on and deal with it. But, the further I go in my life, the more I practice being honest with myself and others, the harder it is to avoid things.

Interestingly enough, the next step in The Weight Escape is to interact just with this part of myself. So, from pages 44-45:

1.  I distract myself through watching tv, tooling around the internet, talking to friends on the phone, eating, and shopping (sometimes in person and sometimes online). I surely use eating and cooking as distractions, sometimes.

2.  I surely “opt out” (what I call “avoid”) of spending time with friends, doing things I enjoy, and doing things that I know are healthy for me, because they are stressful or because I am stressed (and I some how “need” or “want” to stay stressed–really, it’s that I’m not ready to deal with the stress, yet). I don’t think I use dieting or anything like that to opt out. Instead, I just hide…. I go off the grid, stop answering phone calls and the like, sleep a lot, and stay in the house.

3.  I surely attempt to “think” my way out of feeling terrible. I will formulate strategies, plan my life as a means of trying to undo the things that are stressing me. I also try to rationalize the way that I am feeling–searching for the root causes of my anxieties, sadnesses, or other discomforts as a means of ferreting out and exposing the causes to, thereby, also remedy the feelings. This doesn’t always work, but sometimes by thinking, writing, and talking (when I stop hiding) about what I am feeling and where it comes from, I am also motivated to change the habits that I rely upon to keep fast those feelings.

Kurt Wenner's version of the sin, Gluttony (from Daily Mail).Kurt Wenner’s version of the sin, Gluttony (from Daily Mail).

4.  There are a number of ways that I self-medicate. Sometimes, if my body hurts, I do use OTC medicines. I have recently weened myself off of an herbal supplement for depression, but turned to herbs when I felt like I couldn’t control my reaction to the pressures of grad school (did this while talking to a therapist). And, I absolutely use food to punish myself. I overeat to the point of discomfort and despite what my own body tells me about what I am eating. I will sometimes push my consumption to the point of feeling nauseous (that “couldn’t have another bite” moment)–which I can feel a bit, now, as I write this. If I am in a cycle of doing this to myself, and it is interrupted by some healthy eating (often the result of my own routine being interrupted and eating being a matter of social engagement, and therefore my behavior curbed because people can see what I am doing–like a weekend with friends), I will realize that I feel much better with less food in my body. However, I often revert to my punishing behavior. I often do this when I am sad, lonely, and/or anxious.

5.  My social strategy is twofold: 1) I inhabit the sarcasm-as-funny role; 2) I play it super big, with a loud voice, lots of passion, and often my own version of “truth telling.” I often perform these as a means of participating but also distancing myself from my own senses of vulnerability. Also, I just get my feelings hurt very easily, and communicate that through anger–usually.

I like that the book situates the above conversation as a set of strategies that I use (we use) as a means of control, instead of the ways that I would frame them (as weaknesses, bad habits, punishments, etc.). Well, here I go back to reading.  I hope to be more consistent with this reading, and get it done this weekend.

Along with this reading, I am purging my house of things, in preparation for moving. Change is hard, it is no wonder that I am returning to my control strategies as I prepare to leave Nashville and head to Chicago, this summer (really, in a couple of months). I’m hoping that this book helps me return to being kind to myself, during this time (and as a new habit/strategy). Stick with me, and we’ll see.

Finally, and just to note: it is really hard for me to publish this. It feels like putting a very vulnerable part of myself out there for others to see. Still, I will do it. Right now.

My Journal: Reading The Weight Escape

March 17, 2015

9781611802276_1Last night, I started reading The Weight Escape: How to Stop Dieting and Start Living, a Shambhala publication by Joseph Ciarrochi, Ann Bailey, and Russ Harris. I thought I’d just be reading, but the book asks for some writing. So, I thought I’d do this here. I’m going to create a journal that I hope to publish, upon finishing the book. I’m carving out time, every night, to read this (instead of watching tv, which has become my habit before bed).

In “I. Identifying your Values and Goals” from “Part 1: Breaking Free,” the writers ask that you (I) think about and identify three values “that are most important to you right now” (22).  There is a list from which to choose, or I can choose my own. After choosing, I’m to write a paragraph about why these values are important.

I choose:

  1. being authentic
  2. engaging fully, being mindful
  3. being competent, effective

Now, really, I want to be everything on their list (and, hopefully more). But, I’m choosing these three for right now, with the understanding that they can change at any time. Right now, as I think about my future and choose the path for the next step in my career (pressing job offer decisions), I want to foster in myself those things that are going to make me a successful academic and a happy person.

For the last six years, I happily worked as a grad student, here in Nashville. My head down and with considerable tunnel vision, my world has nearly only been about my program. I have struggled with staying true to myself, being exhausted and stressed in new and largely self-induced ways, and separating from my self-care habits. I gave into my position as a grad student, with the understanding that I would find a way to recover, after. This is to say that I was aware of the choices I was making–or at least, I decided not to address certain behaviors, as a means of just. getting. it. done. That cannot be the way I walk into the career.

So, now I want to return to a self that I loved, or concentrate on those parts of myself that I neglected, while in school. To do this, I want to treat myself well, feel better in my skin, sleep better and be happier, be re-excited about my work and fall back in love with writing, and create good work. I think that the only way that I’ve been successful, especially lately, has been by being myself. When I am thinking less about what I think people are thinking of me (when I disengage with double-consciousness), I find myself open without feeling vulnerable. This non-vulnerable-vulnerableness ends, it seems always, in good ways. I would like good things to continue to happen, and I would like to walk through the world with less psychic baggage around what I think I’m projecting into the world. I’d like to trust myself–and trust an authentic, meaning unabashed, me.

Salad Series & “Moretum (The Salad)” by Vergil

It’s getting warmer, and so, naturally, all I can think about is produce!!! I had this amazing fig salad, last night–it just hit the spot. Figs, really a cooler-weather fruit, paired with arugula and with a reduced balsamic vinagrette seemed a perfect compliment to this very moment: trees in Nashville are just starting to bug, although we not yet having shed the vestiges of winter.

So, after yesterday’s inspirational meal, I think I’ll feature salads for the next couple of weeks. Let me guess how you just sighed and rolled your eyes a bit. I mean, seems so boring, right? Nope! If you play your cards right, a salad can be one of the most satisfying things of all–a mix of the 5 tastes with a balance of nutrition: protein, fiber, and water, with a smack of minerals and vitamins.

In the meantime, and as I search my brains for wonderful winter-to-spring transitional salad recipes, please take in Vergi’s poem, “Moretum” or “The Salad”:

The Salad 

ALREADY had the night completed ten
Of winter’s hours, and by his crowing had
The winged sentinel announced the day,
When Symilus the rustic husbandman
Of scanty farm, solicitous about
The coming day’s unpleasant emptiness,
Doth slowly raise the limbs extended on
His pallet low, and doth with anxious hand
Explore the stilly darkness, groping for
The hearth which, being burnt, at length he finds.
I’ th’ burnt-out log a little wood remained,
And ashes hid the glow of embers which
They covered o’er; with lowered face to these
The tilted lamp he places close, and with
A pin the wick in want of moisture out
Doth draw, the feeble flame he rouses up
With frequent puffs of breath. At length, although
With difficulty, having got a light,
He draws away, and shields his light from draughts
With partially encircling hand, and with
A key the doors he opens of the part
Shut off to store his grain, which he surveys.
On th’earth a scanty heap of corn was spread:
From this he for himself doth take as much
As did his measure need to fill it up,
Which ran to close on twice eight pounds in weight
He goes away from here and posts himself
Besides his quern,’ and on a little shelf
Which fixed to it for other uses did
The wall support, he puts his faithful light.
Then from his garment both his arms he frees;
Begirt was he with skin of hairy goat
And with the tail thereof he thoroughly
Doth brush the stones and hopper of the mill.
His hands he then doth summon to the work
And shares it out to each, to serving was
The left directed and the right to th’ toil.
This turns about in tireless circles and
The surface round in rapid motion puts,
And from the rapid thrusting of the stones
The pounded grain is running down. At times
The left relieves its wearied fellow hand,
And interchanges with it turn about.
Thereafter country ditties doth he sing
And solaces his toil with rustic speech,
And meanwhile calls on Scybale to rise.
His solitary housekeeper was she,
Her nationality was African,
And all her figure proves her native land.
Her hair was curly, thick her lips, and dark
Her colour, wide was she across the chest
With hanging breasts, her belly more compressed,
With slender legs and large and spreading foot,
And chaps in lengthy fissures numbed her heels.
He summons her and bids her lay upon
The hearth some logs wherewith to feed the fire,
And boil some chilly water on the flame.
As soon as toil of turning has fulfilled
Its normal end, he with his hand transfers
The copious meal from there into a sieve,
And shakes it. On the grid the refuse stays,
The real corn refined doth sink and by
The holes is filtered. Then immediately
He piles it on a board that’s smooth, and pours
Upon it tepid water, now he brought
Together flour and fluid intermixed,
With hardened hand he turns it o’er and o’er
And having worked the liquid in, the heap
He in the meantime strews with salt, and now
His kneaded work he lifts, and flattens it
With palms of hand to rounded cake, and it
With squares at equal distance pressed doth mark.
From there he takes it to the hearth (ere this
His Scybale had cleaned a fitting place),
And covers it with tiles and heaps the fire
Above. And while Vulcanus, Vesta too,
Perform their parts i’ th’ meantime, Symilus
Is not inactive in the vacant hour,
But other occupation finds himself;
And lest the corn alone may not be found
Acceptable to th’ palate he prepares
Some food which he may add to it. For him
No frame for smoking meat was hung above
The hearth, and backs and sides of bacon cured
With salt were lacking, but a cheese transfixed
By rope of broom through mid-circumference
Was hanging there, an ancient bundle, too,
Of dill together tied. So provident
Our hero makes himself some other wealth.
A garden to the cabin was attached,
Some scanty osiers with the slender rush
And reed perennial defended this;
A scanty space it was, but fertile in
The divers kinds of herbs, and nought to him
Was wanting that a poor man’s use requires;
Sometimes the well-to-do from him so poor
Requested many things. Nor was that work
A model of expense, but one of care:
If ever either rain or festal day
Detained him unemployed within his hut,
If toil of plough by any chance was stopped,
There always was that work of garden plot.
He knew the way to place the various plants,
And out of sight i’ th’ earth to set the seeds,
And how with fitting care to regulate
The neighbouring streams. And here was cabbage, here
Were beets, their foliage extending wide;
And fruitful sorrel, elecampane too
And mallows here were flourishing, and here
Was parsnip,’ leeks indebted to their head
For name, and here as well the poppy cool
And hurtful to the head, and lettuce too,
The pleasing rest at end of noble foods.
[And there the radish sweet doth thrust its points
Well into th’ earth] and there the heavy gourd
Has sunk to earth upon its belly wide.
But this was not the owner’s crop (for who
Than he more straightened is?). The people’s ’twas
And on the stated days a bundle did
He on his shoulder into th’ city bear,
When home he used to come with shoulder light
But pocket heavy, scarcely ever did
He with him bring the city markets’ meat.
The ruddy onion, and a bed of leek
-For cutting, hunger doth for him subdue-,
And cress which screws one’s face with acrid bite,
And endive, and the colewort which recalls
The lagging wish for sexual delights.
On something of the kind reflecting had
He then the garden entered, first when there
With fingers having lightly dug the earth
Away, he garlic roots with fibres thick,
And four of them doth pull; he after that
Desires the parsley’s graceful foliage,
And stiffness-causing rue,’ and, trembling on
Their slender thread, the coriander seeds,
And when he has collected these he comes
And sits him down beside the cheerful fire
And loudly for the mortar asks his wench.
Then singly each o’ th’ garlic heads be strips
From knotty body, and of outer coats
Deprives them, these rejected doth he throw
Away and strews at random on the ground.
The bulb preserved from th’ plant in water doth
He rinse, and throw it into th’ hollow stone.
On these he sprinkles grains of salt, and cheese
Is added, hard from taking up the salt.
Th’ aforesaid herbs he now doth introduce
And with his left hand ‘neath his hairy groin
Supports his garment;’ with his right he first
The reeking garlic with the pestle breaks,
Then everything he equally doth rub
I’ th’ mingled juice. His hand in circles move:
Till by degrees they one by one do lose
Their proper powers, and out of many comes
A single colour, not entirely green
Because the milky fragments this forbid,
Nor showing white as from the milk because
That colour’s altered by so many herbs.
The vapour keen doth oft assail the man’s
Uncovered nostrils, and with face and nose
Retracted doth he curse his early meal;
With back of hand his weeping eyes he oft
Doth wipe, and raging, heaps reviling on
The undeserving smoke. The work advanced:
No longer full of jottings as before,
But steadily the pestle circles smooth
Described. Some drops of olive oil he now
Instils, and pours upon its strength besides
A little of his scanty vinegar,
And mixes once again his handiwork,
And mixed withdraws it: then with fingers twain
Round all the mortar doth he go at last
And into one coherent ball doth bring
The diff’rent portions, that it may the name
And likeness of a finished salad fit.
And Scybale i’ th’ meantime busy too
He lifted out the bread; which, having wiped
His hands, he takes, and having now dispelled,
The fear of hunger, for the day secure,
With pair of leggings Symilus his legs
Encases, and with cap of skin on ‘s head
Beneath the thong-encircled yoke he puts
Th’ obedient bullocks, and upon the fields
He drives, and puts the ploughshare in the ground.

*Poem found on See the link for context for and background on the poem.