It’s amazing how an extra 25 degrees and several more minutes of daylight can make you feel like Spring is right around the corner. This weekend it’s been a balmy 45 degrees (7 degrees C) and I’m just trying not to get over-excited. The snow is melting, my light weight coat came back out, and for a second I’m taking a break from hot soups. I was planning to share this salad recipe around Easter, but I decided to go ahead and share it now since I’m already in a Springtime state of mind. I had better hurry, because pretty soon that cold, Artic air will be rushing in here to slap me back to reality.
I don’t really like to define my diet beyond “plant-based/no animal products.” I consider myself a dabbler. I like to dabble in various eating styles. Which is my way of saying I like to eat everything. Some days, we eat loads of fruit and potatoes (ala high carb low fat) and other days plenty of bean dishes and nut butters. We are mostly gluten-free, but not 100%. I try to make sure whole food choices dominate our diet, but we aren’t perfect, and sometimes eat packaged foods. I use a little bit of oil for cooking, but some days I challenge myself not to use any. Usually it’s a combination of everything, which works great for myself and my family. Some starch, a good amount of plant-based protein, some healthy fats, loads of veggies, plenty of fruit, and whole grains like quinoa.
While much of our food is cooked, I like to try to get in as much raw, fresh produce as possible. I love learning about raw food preparation, and all the fun things you can create. Eating raw veggies can be so much more exciting than carrot and celery sticks, but it doesn’t have to be fancy and involve exotic fruits and vegetables. My goal is to eat 50/50 raw and cooked foods daily. It’s really not a hard goal to hit. A big smoothie for breakfast, fresh fruit or veggies for snacks (i.e. apples and raw almond butter, or veggie sticks and homemade tahini dip), fresh greens in your lunch and dinner, and you’re basically there. I always try to take a look at my lunch or dinner plate and see if I can fill it with half raw and half cooked food.
Dishes like today’s Carrot Walnut Raisin salad make eating more raw foods so easy, not to mention tasty! You can make it a light meal by serving the salad rolled into romaine leaves, or on top of some leafy greens and chopped veggies, or make it a 50/50 meal by adding cooked quinoa or chickpeas. Or try stuffing everything – salad, quinoa, and chickpeas – into a gluten-free wrap. The salad can be tweaked to your tastes, whether you want it sweet or tangy, without walnuts or raisins, or with an Asian flair. I’ve included several variations so you can hypothetically change it up and make it different every time.
This salad is brimming with vitamin A, antioxidants, healthy fats, and even plant-based iron (thanks to the parsley and raisins). Basically this dish is a dream for hair and skin, not to mention your health and well-being. Best of all, it’s inexpensive to make, utilizes readily available ingredients, and has a sweet and crunchy taste that even kids will love. It’s good any time of the year, even after the January thaw is inevitably chased away by February snowflakes. Sigh.
Raw Carrot Walnut Raisin Salad with Creamy Almond Butter Dressing
- 2 – 3 large carrots, shredded, or processed (about 3 cups)
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup smooth raw almond butter (creamy roasted will work too)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp low sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Combine all salad ingredients and dressing in a large bowl and fold together to evenly coat the salad in dressing. Taste and add a pinch or two of sea salt and pepper. Adjust lemon juice, maple syrup, and soy sauce to taste. I ended up adding another handful of raisins and walnuts too, but just eye it and see. Serve right away or store in a covered container in the fridge and allow the flavors to develop.
Notes and Variations:
- You can use your food processor with shredding attachment to make the shredded carrots, or just buy them pre-shredded, to save time.
- Instead of walnuts, use raw chopped pecans, almonds, or even cashews. Toast the walnuts or other nuts if desired.
- For a nut free salad, use sunflower seed butter in place of almond butter and use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in place of walnuts. Or try tahini instead of almond butter and sub seeds or more dried fruit in place of nuts. You may need to adjust the maple syrup to account for the slightly bitter flavor of the sunflower seed butter or tahini.
- Instead of raisins, try dried cranberries, dried cherries, or golden raisins.
- For an Asian inspired carrot salad, try replacing the almond butter with peanut butter, use lime juice instead of lemon juice, cilantro in place of parsley, and add a bit of toasted sesame seed oil to the dressing (maybe 1/2 tsp). Try using dry roasted peanuts and/or sesame seeds in place of walnuts.