While cooking, listen to this: Diet Mountain Dew - Lana del Rey
It isn't technically winter yet, but I'm already starting to feel the wintery blues. What a quaint way of putting it, as if I'm a little sad that it's cold and dark but with the right blanket and mug of hot cocoa everything will be fine.
What I really mean is, now that I see the sun without a window in front of me for maybe two minutes a day, my mood has gone south. Way south, with the birds. Maybe my mood is in Florida, with the geese and octogenarians. I hope it has a good time down there, and that it will come back soon.
In the meantime, it can be pretty damn hard to get out of bed when it is still dark out, knowing that when you emerge from your place of work hours later, it will be dark out once again. It can also be pretty damn hard to get out of bed when it is freezing outside, but there is no pretty snow to balance it out. Maybe your hair is finally behaving again because the 99% humidity of summer is gone, but the 500 mile-per-hour winds ensure your hair will look like a rats nest. (What does a rat nest look like, anyway? Writing this out I realize I have no idea. Maybe it's a nice place to live?)
Anyway, to be concise, it is not only hard out there in the world but now it is cold. If you, like me, get extra pissy or sad or frustrated or depressed based on the seasons, then eating healthy is crucial. CRUCIAL. I am not saying to go raw vegan, paleo, Whole30, sugar-free, carb-free, blah blah blah whatever if that isn't your thing, or that you shouldn't keep eating cake, but it is so fucking important to get those nutrients in. I wish I could hibernate like a bear and prep for winter by eating grilled cheese sandwiches and family-size bags of chips, but not only am I not a bear and I would wake up with a horrible stomachache, it would totally destroy my mood. There is a strange, shitty link between junk food consumption and depression - since I'm predisposed to low moods and depression, I need to make sure I'm eating less of the hibernation-bear food, and more of the happy-human food. Maybe you do too.
Fresh green things in the winter (obviously depending on where you live) can be hard to come by, but they are out there and waiting for you to stuff them in your face. Brussels sprouts are one of them - they are EVERYWHERE right now, on stalks, in crates, in bags, just hanging out and waiting to be turned into something delicious, like this salad. I've made this salad a couple of times for groups of friends, and I'm not exaggerating when I say the bowl is empty when I get home. Not one sprout remains. It is so easy, so fast and not only will your mouth be happy, so will your body and brain. With all of the nutrients bouncing around in the sprouts, coupled with the pomegranate seeds and healthy fats from the hazelnuts, this salad is HEALTHY, man. And there's Parmesan because, well, do you really need an excuse for cheese?
If you are feeling off in your body and mind now that it is winter, know that you are far from alone and that so many people feel this way that it's actually bonkers. Feed your soul with your favorite foods, but make sure to get some vitamins up in there, too. We have a looooooong way to go with this cold and muck, and food that looks, feels and tastes this good is going to help get us through.
Oh, and this is way more important than any salad, if you are depressed or noticing significant changes in your life that are impacting your appetite, mood, relationships, motivation or sleep, click here to access free resources to help you through.
Love and meows, Rina
POMEGRANATE, PARMESAN + HAZELNUT BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD
Yield: 8 servings
Total Cook Time: 30m
Category: Salad, Sides, Winter
Source: very slightly adapted from Food & Wine
1 cup hazelnuts
1 pound Brussels sprouts, finely shredded*
1 cup pomegranate seeds (1 small pomegranate should do)**
1 cup shaved Parmigianno-Reggiano
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup
Honey, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
*Plenty of stores sell pre-shredded sprouts, but it's super easy to shred your own if you can't find them. Just cut off the bottoms, slice in half, and then with the cut-side down thinly slice.
**It is also super easy to de-seed a pomegranate! Fill a bowl with water, cut the pomegranate along its equator, and then into segments. Submerge a segment in the water and remove seeds - any pithy bits will float to the top and the seeds will sink. When done, skim the bits off the top and then drain the seeds. Voila!
Roast the hazelnuts: preheat the oven to 350F and place the hazelnuts on a clean baking sheet - no oil or foil required. Roast for 15 minutes, until your house smells unreal and the skins are starting to blacken. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then remove the skins by placing hazelnuts in a clean towel and rubbing vigorously. Roughly chop and set aside.
Make the dressing: in a jar or other seal-able container, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, lemon zest and juice, pomegranate syrup, honey, salt and pepper. Shake well and season to taste.
Assemble! in a large bowl, add the Brussels sprouts, hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds and Parmesan. When you're ready to serve, dress and toss.
To keep: because Brussels sprouts are sturdy, this salad makes perfect leftovers. It will keep well for a few days in a zippered plastic bag or tightly-sealed container.