Now I will talk about something that I have no business talking about: babies! The reason I don’t? Well, I don’t have a child myself, nor am I expecting one, but they’re an ever increasing familiarity in my life these days. At first, I’ll admit, babies used to scare me. Translation: they are impossibly small, warm, and they smell differently, not to mention they are mostly hairless and may cry out, poop or cry at any given moment; none of which I am equipped to prevent or stop. How is that not terrifying? But lately I have been channeling my inner, mature adult self, urging her to claim bravery in the face of the small human child. I am even brave enough to say that I want my own little hairless being, but it still makes me uneasy to even utter the words. Why? I have no idea, considering that, let’s be honest, our only real purpose on this little planet is to reproduce and secure our continuing existence and domination over other beings, especially furry ones. In fact, when I begin to mull this over I can’t believe how separated we have become from our instinctual natures and basic needs and wants. But don’t worry, I’m not going to get all philosophical on you because all you really want to know is how to make this kick ass recipe for spinach salad with creamy dressing, right?
But before I do, I need to clarify why the word “baby” even popped into my head. A brilliant and talented friend of mine recently started a farm-to-table style gourmet baby food company in Boston called Lovage (that’s an herb if you didn’t know). Her yummy blends are artfully simple and packed full of the natural brilliance of vegetables and fruits – no alterations required to be nutritional powerhouses for your small furless one. If you live in Boston or the Boston area, be sure to check out her company! Feed your baby locally sourced and locally made fresh food! Hooray! You will also find my recipe for spinach and pear salad with cashew dill dressing on her monthly newsletter, along with everything to do with preparing for and raising an eco baby, just the way mother nature intended.
For the salad:
5 handfuls of baby spinach
3 radishes, ends removed & chopped
1 avocado, pitted & chopped
1 pear, cored & sliced
1 handful of raw walnuts, toasted
Freshly cracked black pepper & sea salt to taste
For the dressing:
1 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked overnight or for at least an hour
½ cup water
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 T raw coconut nectar or unrefined sweetener of choice
1 small clove of peeled garlic
2 tsp onion powder
1 small handful of fresh dill
Large pinch of sea salt
Drain and rinse soaked cashews under cold water. In a high speed blender, add all dressing ingredients. Puree on high until velvety smooth. To toast walnuts, crumble them in your hand and toss in a dry skillet over a low flame. Cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. To assemble dish, toss salad ingredients with dressing and top with toasted walnuts. Makes enough salad for 2-4 furry unicorn babes.
So I’m not a big fan of going to the dentist. It’s nothing in particular, just the general atmosphere and post-cleaning stomach ache from swallowing the electric blue mouthwash in miniature paper cups and recovering from the embarrassment of not being able to figure out which button fills the cup and which button cleans the bowl. The waiting room isn’t so bad except the magazines have that used quality about them that tempts my germophobia to come out in full form (translation: inability to open magazines followed by fixation on other frequently touched objects: doorknobs, pens, seats that have recently become available and are still warm, etc). As soon as they call my name and whisk me through the milk toast colored door, I can smell the mouthwash and latex gloves. The chairs are comfortable, but then they shine that unearthly looking spaceship lamp into your mouth while asking you how your family is. You have to time when you’re going to answer because the tools keep going in and out of your mouth and you inevitably have one of those awkward moments when you speak just as their about to put the mirror back in. They wait for you to finish telling them about your dog’s weight problem and you resume your vacant stare at the popcorn ceiling. Why don’t they hang some artwork or a crossword puzzle or a flatscreen on the ceiling instead of forcing you to stare at the air vent while listening to soft rock? The chair comes down and it’s time to rinse. I catch a view of the pastel print of a white chair in a garden and become sidetracked by my preoccupation with judging people who love crappy art. I hit the wrong button and my blue mouthwash overflows into the ceramic bowl. I swish it around and spit, managing to dribble on my stiff paper bib. After the dentist polishes my teeth with bubblegum flavored grit (half of which I end up swallowing), Mr. Thirsty comes out. Mr. Thirsty is the miniature vacuum cleaner that slurps up all the liquid in your mouth before you choke on it. When I was little they used to try to pump me up with excitement by smiling and saying: “Here comes Mr. Thirsty!” I was more traumatized than excited, for by that point I had already discovered that when adults get overly excited about something in a hospital setting, it means you’re not going to like it. I end my appointment with a visit from the big man himself, the head dentist. I’ve been going to the same dentist since I was little, so when he recently retired I didn’t know what to do. A new dentist came in and they said I should go to him. I said fine. My old dentist was a hippie type with a vegan daughter and we got along great, so when the new guy walked in with a crew cut and hungry looking eyes, I became anxious. He’s about six years old and shakes my hand so hard that my bib unhooks. His teeth are blazing white and he looks like he hasn’t seen the sun in a decade. The mirror and the pick come out and he examines my teeth with exuberance. I’ve never had a cavity before and I’ve never had any work done. After he pokes around, he tells me that I have a cavity and need a filling. “Really?” I ask. I wonder what I’ve been doing wrong. He says it’s no big deal. So I get the filling and a few hundred uninsured dollars later, I’m back at the office for another cleaning, and guess what? This time I need a few hundred dollars worth of x-rays and two more fillings. Now I’m getting suspicious. I ask to see the x-rays, but all he shows me is a bunch of light areas and dark areas around my teeth. When he points out the “bad” areas, I lightheartedly mention that he could be showing me a picture of space and I wouldn’t know the difference. He laughs uncomfortably behind a set of magnifying spectacles that actually make him look like he’s from space. I make the appointment for more fillings, then make the mistake of telling my dad (translation: my dad thinks everyone is always after your money and you can’t trust anyone, especially young dentists and car dealers). He tells me what I want to hear. “Your teeth are fine…he’s just trying to make more money off of you.” Solution? I’m switching dentists, and may or may not be suffering from two life threatening cavities.
When you’re worried about cavities, what should you make yourself to eat? A huge crunchy salad of course! This salad is a perfect Big Love style marriage of creamy, sweet, tangy, and salty.
Roasted Beet & Chickpea Salad
2 red beets, scrubbed & ends removed
1 cup cooked chickpeas
small handful of fresh dill, minced
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
for the dressing:
1 T dijon mustard
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 T olive oil + more for baking beets
sea salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Place beets in baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and cover with foil. Bake for an hour, or until a knife easily pierces the beets. Allow to cool, then remove skins and chop. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients, then toss with salad and enjoy! Feeds two unicorns with post-traumatic dental stress.