Maple Haloumi Arugula Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
Let’s talk January things.
I put together resolutions, if that’s what I should call them, back in September on Rosh Hashana, but between then and now I get easily lost and distracted so I welcome another chance to get things right, or better. Because beginnings hold more potential, no?
Like many, I have health and wellness on that list. On some level, it’s a vain pursuit to fit into two thirds of my wardrobe but more than that it’s to gain energy and clarity so I can be the best version of myself. Let’s just say that you are not welcome around me sometime in the late afternoon after I’ve either hardly eaten or overindulged mindlessly. I get into a cycle of disordered eating, where I skip breakfast and “deservedly” polish off the last from the batch of cookies or settle for a milk and cereal marathon. Because it’s easy and convenient despite being anything but nourishing. So off I go, always reading and researching the latest in health. I’ve done cleanses (feels amazing!), and gone low carb/paleoish (energizing!) but somewhere along life happens and that basically ends the effort. Or it becomes too restricting and my perfectionist side dismisses any progress as pointless. So now I’m simplifying things. Instead of parking myself into a health camp, I’m freeing myself to be in tune with my own compass.
Maybe juicing, paleo or low carb is potentially the way to perfect health, but eating intuitively is the path to balance. And to me, that’s true wellness. We all know that moderation is key but living in moderation is challenging when cake is there, beckoning with its promise of sweet pleasure. And it delivers said promises until I’ve overindulged and am left overfilled and regretful. So instead of following rigid guidelines that promise optimal health, I’m trying to live what I always felt, that listening to your body is the best way to care for it. That instead of pursuing a 30 day plan of sort, turning a few key things into habits is longer lasting. A lifestyle, they call it.
I try to stick with these guidelines, if you care to know.
1) I drink a lot of water
2) I do not have refined sugar. Really, there’s no way around it, it stops the cravings and the blood sugar roller coasters, and my crankiness.
3) I eat as many dark, leafy greens as I can. It promotes detoxing and definitely gives my skin a glow.
4) I take time to prepare myself a proper meal. Like many mothers, I put myself last, so I’m trying to focus on taking care of me, sometimes before the little ones. Good thing my baby loves eggs, we do breakfast together. I also love the foods I love, so I’m happy with repeats, which makes things seamless when the fridge is stocked.
5) I do full fat and healthy fats. That means butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. There is enough research that quells the old “fat makes you fat” approach. So I get the feta and greek yogurt with the highest fat percentage and I never measure my oil. It keeps me satiated throughout the day. I also get to indulge in my roasted, salted hazelnut habit.
It’s a journey that takes effort and time, but the way I feel propels me forward. In truth, I’ve always been into eating healthy, as a teenager I remember asking my mom to make grilled chicken before it was the thing. I’m happy with a big leafy, colorful, crunchy, tasty salad more than a thin-crusted mozzarella pizza oozing with fresh tomatoes and rimmed with a charred crust, or maybe just as much. I love food, or more honestly I love the pleasure of good food and I believe it to be true kindness from the Creator. So I’m learning to enjoy it all in the right way, at the right time. And that includes chocolate. And also this maple fried haloumi that isn’t unlike candy, really. Those slightly burnt, crispy edges hold an earthy sweetness from the maple and olive oil that complements the deep salty from the cheese. These little squares are utterly addicting and I think you’ll agree this salad to be in perfect balance.
As a side note, I’m a little wary in typecasting food as “healthy”, as that connotes a different meaning to everyone and qualifies it as either good or bad. I think that if food is whole, in pure form, unprocessed, and homemade, then it’ll be delicious and nourishing without needing a label. I find it particularly amusing when I read blurbs to recipes along the lines “you would never guess this is healthy”, as if healthy food is by default bland and disappointing when in reality it’s intensely flavorful and satisfying. I hope that comes across in this little space.
Maple Haloumi Arugula Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
1 cube haloumi, sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
6 cups arugula
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/2 apple, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 full tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon pink salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour the olive oil and let heat through, less than 1 minute. Pour the maple syrup. It will bubble and caramelize. Immediately add the haloumi and cook until the edges brown, flip, and cook the other side. Remove skillet from heat and let cool slightly.
To prep the salad, mix the arugula, green onions, apple, bell pepper and cucumber. For the dressing, combine the dijon, red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper in a jar and shake well. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Top with the haloumi slices and enjoy.