healthy + seasonal recipes that are gluten & dairy-free

The Glowing Salad Bowl with Golden Beet Slaw + Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing and GF Lunch Tips

The Glowing Salad Bowl with Golden Beet Slaw + Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing and GF Lunch Tips

The Glowing Salad Bowl with Golden Beet Slaw + Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by My Natural Kitchen

This is the kind of salad recipe that sets you up for happy desk lunches all week. A few quick components - a bright yet simple golden beet slaw, slightly smokey roasted sweet potatoes, a zingy, very tasty dressing and a few salad favourites make not only for a delicious bowl, but also mean that packing lunches is as easy as taking a few scoops from each container, adding the extras, and leaving for work. All healthy, vegan, naturally gluten free. It's the kind of lunch that makes you feel light and vibrant all afternoon ;) 

The Glowing Salad Bowl with Golden Beet Slaw + Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by My Natural Kitchen

I realized a few weeks ago that taking care of myself means more than the typical activities we tend to list under umbrella terms like "self care" - you know, like massages, friend-time, a glass of wine or healthy meal. Since late summer, I've felt myself slipping into more of a negative frame of mind as some stresses in my professional life crept through my usual home-life boundary. I found that I was tired nearly all the time and that it was becoming so easy for me to make snap judgements that my usual compassionate stance was fading away. I stopped feeling like my usual kind and happy self. I saw my friends much less, stopped exercising almost completely, and was pretty absent from this site altogether. I'd try to fill my weekends with the kind of things I thought would be restorative, but never really found myself ready to face the week and the typical Sunday night insomnia would hit me while difficult conversations, icky situations, and general feelings of dread about work would make my head spin. Does anyone know these feelings? I think I found out what burnout feels like. So not where I wanted to be (obviously), but also not somewhere I'd really expect to find myself when my day-to-day life is all wrapped up with "wellness" and "shiny health" and all the crystals/essential oils/organic veggies/green juice/adaptogenic herbs, etc etc etc. 

The Glowing Salad Bowl with Golden Beet Slaw + Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by My Natural Kitchen

What I realized was that I wasn't taking care of my mental and spiritual selves, and that all the activities and otherwise good choices I was making weren't really doing much because I was totally out of balance. It sounds really obvious probably, but it hit me like some kind of revelation. I've read a thousand times that to deal effectively with stress you need to adjust your perception and approach the stressor differently, and I'm really trying. This article from Harvard Business Review is helpful for getting some perspective, and realizing what rest and recovery really look like in the context of high work stress. This guide on adrenal health from an ayurvedic point of view has been a useful guide, too. I also signed myself up for a 30 day meditation challenge focused on the use of mantras (SO GOOD), and every weekend my goal has been to go on at least one hike. Just getting out into a forest, breathing in that earthy smell of dirt and decaying leaves and hearing waterfalls and streams has been calming in a way that is a bit hard to describe. Slow, small steps is where I'm at but things are coming around. 

The Glowing Salad Bowl with Golden Beet Slaw + Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by My Natural Kitchen

I've made and shot a few recipes over the last couple months, because I find the process meditative and calming, but never made it to actually posting them. So silly, but my follow-through has been a bit pitiful lately (if I owe you an email, you know this to be true! I'm sorry guys). One thing that has always been somewhat of a non-negotiable for me is to pack myself a good lunch for work. When Amplify Snack Brands asked me to share my tips for packing a gluten free lunch, I felt pulled to finally post again here and share what I do to take care of myself each day. It's the little things that become the big things, right? 

Over the years, I have learned that a little bit of prep on the weekends sets me up for easier mornings during the busy work week. I wouldn't say that batch-cooking is my forte, and dinners around here tend to involve whatever is in the fridge and inspires me in the moment, but I definitely find that putting together two or three easy recipes on a Sunday means that my work lunches are a breeze to put together. Because gluten free breads and wraps are always best fresh, I avoid making sandwiches for myself to bring to work. A loaded-up salad with fresh greens, a roasted veg for staying power, nuts or seeds for satiety and protein, and a tasty dressing to pull it all together is my absolute favourite thing to bring. Eating well despite food intolerances or allergies is really about being prepared. I always pick up packages of pre-washed organic greens to take that extra step out of preparing my salads for lunch. I'm sharing a recipe for something I've been loving lately, and that shows you how I prep a few easy recipes on the weekend to make it super easy each morning to put together the kind of lunch that your colleagues will ask you to trade for ;) A big salad like this, plus a snack or two, means that getting hungry never leads me to a vending machine (that probably wouldn't have allergy-friendly options anyways). Soon I plan to post some of my favourite homemade chocolates which I like to pack as a healthy sweet treat. Other good options for snacks that I like are a mix of brazil nuts and dried apricots packed in a little container, homemade granola bars or some fruit. Eating clean, seasonal, and healthy lunches like this means that you won't feel sluggish or heavy in the afternoon and also ensures that dietary restrictions won't leave you hungry or making less-than-optimal choices in the food court. 

I hope this salad makes it into your repertoire too, and that you're all enjoying Fall wherever you are. Sending love! xo

The Glowing Salad Bowl with Golden Beet Slaw + Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing (gluten free, vegan, paleo) by My Natural Kitchen

The Glowing Salad Bowl with Golden Beet Slaw + Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing

Recipes for the Golden Beet Slaw, Smokey Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing make enough for 3-4 servings. I tend to prep the other components and keep them in glass containers in my fridge, so that each morning as I pack my lunch I take a small handful of each plus a scoop of slaw and sweet potatoes. I pack a serving of the dressing separately and pour it over the salad right before I eat. The slaw can also be made using red or candy cane beets, or using red or green cabbage in place of the brussel sprouts. 

for each salad:

a few big handfuls of greens (I like a mix of baby kale, gem, arugula, and mixed greens)

1/4 cup cucumber, sliced

1 sundried tomato (the kind that is lightly salty, not oil-packed), sliced

1 radish, thinly sliced

1 avocado, quartered (leave the skin on until you are ready to eat to reduce browning)

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp hemp hearts

1 portion of Golden Beet Slaw (recipe follows)

1 portion of Smokey Roasted Sweet Potatoes (recipe follows)

2-3 tbsp of Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing (recipe follows) 

Add the greens to a serving bowl or sealable container, if you are packing the salad to take to work. Add a big scoop of golden beet slaw, and a serving of the smokey roasted sweet potatoes. Top with sliced cucumbers, radishes, sundried tomatoes, pepitas, hemp hearts, and avocado. I keep the avocado skin on until I'm ready to eat, which helps prevent browning. Before eating, top with the zingy carrot poppyseed dressing - I like to put the lid back on, shake the whole salad up, and then dig in. Enjoy! 

Golden Beet Slaw

1 1/2 cups golden beet, peeled and shredded (1 large beet)

1/2 cup carrot, shredded (1 small carrot)

1 cup brussel sprouts, finely sliced (approx. 7 brussel sprouts)

1 green onion, finely sliced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp olive oil

Shred the beets and carrots with a box grater or the shredding feature of a food processor. Finely slice the brussel sprouts and green onion. Toss together in a bowl, drizzle over the lemon juice and olive oil, and toss again. Store in a covered container in the fridge. 

Smokey Roasted Sweet Potato

2 small sweet potatoes, chopped

1 tbsp avocado oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle the oil over the chopped sweet potatoes on the parchment-lined sheet, add the salt and spices, and toss to coat evenly. Spread the veggies in an even layer, then bake for 20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Store sweet potatoes in a covered container in the fridge. 

Zingy Carrot Poppyseed Dressing

1 medium carrot

1 inch ginger, peeled

2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar

1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Finely grate 1/4 cup of carrot using a microplane or fine box grater, and set aside. Chop the remaining carrot (you should have about 1/2 cup chopped carrot) and add the chopped carrot to the carafe of a high-speed blender with the ginger, vinegars, maple syrup and olive oil. Slowly increase speed to high, and blend until the mixture is completely smooth (about 1 minute). Pour the mixture into a jar, stir in the reserved finely grated carrot and the poppy seeds. Taste and adjust if needed. Store the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Note that if you don't have a blender, you can still make this dressing by finely grating 3/4 cup of carrot and the ginger. Whisk together the vinegars, maple syrup and olive oil. Stir in the carrot, ginger, and poppy seeds. Taste and adjust if needed. 

This post was created as part of a project by Amplify Snack Brands, who requested tips on packing a nutritious gluten free lunch. 

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