Pre-Feasting Healthy Day

It’s gray and rainy in Oakland today. I woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting the earth outside my window, falling in a hard stream from the gutter. In that first moment of consciousness, I thought I was back in Seattle. Thus begins my first real day of homesickness.

Rain:  a perfect excuse to spend the day in the kitchen, and a great way to distract myself from thoughts of home. I’ve always felt the calm of meditation while I cook, and I need that today. My first instinct is to go straight for the comfort food, something warm and savory and forgiving, but with Thanksgiving on Thursday and about a month of well-stocked parent’s fridge-raiding behind me (circling my middle, in fact) it is time to do the healthy thing. Cook the comfort food to make myself feel better and set it aside for later, then have salad for lunch. Fine. Harumph.

I compromise with myself (it’s oh so easy), and decide to make some chickpea salad. It’s definitely in the salad category, and packs a beany protein punch to keep me full and from picking at the tastiness reserved for Thursday. It’ll also use up some ingredients in the fridge so I have room for the Thanksgiving groceries. Bam! A Twofer.

I start by rinsing some canned garbanzos and throwing them in a small bowl, along with some diced red bell pepper and purple onion. Usually I use regular raisins, but the cupboard reveals some golden ones today, so I will use those. In the bowl they go. I decide on a Moroccan-style dressing, and toast up some ground cumin, turmeric and paprika in a dry skillet before adding them to some apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. A quick stir, then a slow stream of canola oil, mixing vigorously to emulsify. Yum. My dressing is slightly thick, just the right blend of sweet and savory, and a fantastic golden color from the blend of spices. In with the beans and veggies. 

I toss everything well, then put it in the fridge for about an hour to let all the flavors combine. Ideally I would leave this covered in the fridge overnight, but I’m too hungry! When you let it marinate longer, the raisins absorb the dressing and plump up, giving you little sweet flavor bursts. Yum.

Now to make the whole salad. I line the bottom of a shallow bowl with lettuce and top it with about a cup of the garbanzo bean mix. On top go some beautiful sliced golden heirloom tomatoes and plenty of freshly torn mint. Voila! A hearty, vegan, tasty lunch salad.

And with my belly full and my mind guilt-free, I turn to prep for the tasty (but not as healthy) Thanksgiving meal I’m serving on Thursday. Veggies and Moroccan dressing today? Definitely something I can be thankful for.

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