Graduations, Gallbladders, and Moroccan Carrot Salad

My cousin graduated from college last week, so of course my family went en masse to the graduation and to congratulate him.  Ceremonies, dinners, smiles, hugs, a whirlwind of taking in the massive step he was taking in life.  Of course, we went out to eat.  A lot.  Probably too much.  C’est la vie.  But if our biggest problem is eating too much, I’m never going to complain.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t our biggest problem.

My dad came home (it was an 8 hour drive) in extreme stomach pain.  My family tends to have a very high tolerance for pain and discomfort, so he wouldn’t go to see a doctor.  To be fair, it’s almost a tradition.  My grandmother once had a heart attack off and on for 3 days before she finally went to the hospital, then when admitted told them she had to leave because she “had a lot of housework to do”.  I had issues with my pacemaker for a month before I went in to get it check.  So, we can’t really say much about him not going.  Since he won’t go, he started trying to fix the pain for himself.  Of course, he had to know what was causing it.

My grandfather had gallbladder issues, so that was the primary suspect.  After a few hours of research on WebMD, he started drinking hot water with lemon once a day.  He cut saturated fats out of hit diet and stopped drinking coffee, by far his biggest vice.  He’s eating healthier now than he ever has in his life.  Seeing this, I asked him about it.

“Honestly, I hate to admit it; but I have way more energy, I don’t feel as tired or sluggish” was his response.  So that got me thinking.

Why don’t I eat healthier?  How hard can it be?  Will I feel a difference?  Thus began this journey.

I’m slowly weaning myself off of Diet Coke, something I drink obscene amounts of.  I’m learning what foods are healthy and why, and since I already cook most of our meals I have a huge advantage.  Additionally, I’m going to rank my energy level 4 times a day to track the differences.  There’s only one problem with all of this:  it sounds awful.

I mean seriously, it just doesn’t sound fun at all.  Why would I do something that isn’t fun?  I wouldn’t; I know me.  So let’s make it fun!

In the spirit of cooking travel, I decided to expand my horizons and try a new country whose recipes I hadn’t tried much of yet.  This is especially difficult for me because I’m terrible about eating vegetables, so I really wanted to make it new and different to increase the odds that I would… you know… eat them.  Where did I end up?

Morocco, actually.  Why?  No reason at all.  This dish is actually a carrot salad, and I chose it for a few reasons:

  1.  It takes less than 5 minutes to make
  2. It keeps well
  3. I can make large amounts of it
  4. It’s good at room temperature, which few things are (I tend to prefer hot food)
  5. It’s extremely healthy

Plus, the ingredients are quite cheap and you can easily put your own spin on the recipe if you want.  But enough jibber-jabber, let’s get to the recipe itself, shall we?

First, peel one pound of carrots and cut of the very top where the stem was.  Grate with the coarsest grater you have into a bowl, and give yourself a pat on the back.  The hardest part of this recipe is done!  Add a healthy sprinkle of kosher salt, one half teaspoon of paprika, one teaspoon of cinnamon, and one teaspoon of cumin.  We now reach the first of several choices: the garlic.

You can either chop fresh garlic into a paste (my preference) or just use garlic powder, which is slightly faster.  Use two cloves of fresh or a half teaspoon of powder.  Next choice: citrus.

You can either use an orange or a lemon, completely your choice.  I go with lemon, but use all the juice of whichever you choose.  Lastly, add a small handful of chopped cilantro and one third cup olive oil.  Give it a nice mix to introduce everything to each other, and you’re done!

You can easily make this the night before and it makes a great quick snack.  But that’s not what I like best about it.

What I like best is that because it’s so easy this Moroccan carrot recipe is fantastic for kitchen time with the kids.  Even my two year old can add the spices, help mix, or even help juice the lemons.  Not only does this give them practice making food, they are much more likely to eat something that they’ve helped make.  Anything that gets them to actually eat a vegetable is okay in my book for sure.  But what about you?

Do you try to eat healthy?  Are you a soda or coffee fiend?  Would you change your diet for more energy, or are you the ‘only live once’ mindset?  Let me know!