Today is the second day of January. As I type this, I note that my swollen fingers, bloated belly, and puffy face are the result of over-indulging in white flour, white sugar, and meat products during the holidays. My binge began innocently on a Monday at work when I treated myself to one cookie about a week and a half before Christmas Eve. As the week continued, co-workers brought a steady supply of treats from home to share with staff and my indulgence in a couple of (actually four) buttery raspberry bars on Tuesday quickly snowballed into “just one more” (read: several more than one) cookie on Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday, my normal tendency to avoid sugary snacks had melted into a lip-smacking blur of chocolate-coated anything.
Usually I don’t eat very much meat, but as my husband and I headed into the weekend and visited with friends and family during Christmas break there were summer sausages and cheeses and crackers to snack on, as well as Christmas ham and herb-crusted pork roast for dinner, even a basket of steaming-hot fish and chips from the Kilted Cod food truck parked in front of a local brewery where we celebrated the Christmas season with friends. Along the way, I washed these meaty, sugary, and white flour-laden seasonal splurges down with many more pints of stout and porter than I normally drink in a month, let alone a single week.
But all is not lost. According to WebMD and Stanford University’s BeWell website, the average American gains one to two pounds over the holidays. This year my American waistline was no exception. In order to counteract the puffiness in my fingers and face caused by ingesting too much white sugar, white flour, and meat I turned to the anti-inflammatory powers of vegetables and fruit (which are the usual staples in my diet), namely spinach, blueberries, raw beets, and cucumbers. Spinach and blueberries are “useful for inflammation reduction” according to Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. Raw beets and cucumbers, too, are noted for their anti-inflammatory properties on the website The World’s Healthiest Foods (whfoods.org).
This simple salad will help to relieve swollen fingers, puffy face, and bloated belly. Chevre adds tangy flavor, while almonds supply crunchy texture and beneficial fats. Keep in mind, one meal won’t miraculously purge all puffiness. For best results in relieving inflammation, Balch recommends eating “a diet composed of 75 percent raw foods.” Daily exercise helps, too. By resuming a high level of raw vegetable and fruit consumption, and returning to an avoidance of sugar, white flour, and meat once again, the extra two pounds I gained during the 2013 holiday season will disappear as quickly as a buttery raspberry bar on the lips of a holiday indulger.
Beet, Blueberry, and Chevre Salad
Makes one salad
Blueberries, 1/2 cup
Spinach leaves (or beet greens), about 2 cups
Beets, raw, 2 or 3 small-to-medium in size
Chevre, 1/8 cup (about 1/2 ounce)
Almonds, 1/4 cup
Fig-walnut balsamic dressing, or any good quality balsamic dressing, or a sprinkle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a dash of salt and pepper
Wash blueberries in a colander; set aside to drain.
Peel cucumbers; cut crosswise into slices. Arrange slices around the edge of your salad bowl. Place remaining slices on the bottom of the bowl, where they’ll absorb some of the dressing.
Wash and dry spinach leaves. Or, if your beet greens are fairly young, small, and in good shape, remove the leafy tops from beets. (If the greens are large and leathery, it is better to steam or saute them like chard or kale.) Wash and dry the leaves. Remove stems, then tear leaves into small, bite-sized pieces the way you would prepare lettuce for a salad. Whether using beet greens or spinach, place the clean, torn greens into salad bowl.
Handling the cut beets may dye your hands red; wear clean gloves if you want to avoid this. Slice off the very top of each beet where the stems attach to the bulbous root (take off about 1/4 inch), then peel the raw beets using a vegetable peeler. Dice them and add to the bowl.
Add rinsed blueberries to the bowl. Crumble the chevre and arrange atop the blueberries. Sprinkle almonds over the salad. Drizzle with balsamic dressing and enjoy.