I don’t know about y’all but last week (particularly Monday) laid me out in the worst way. It was a perfect storm of expectations falling through, body image issues run amok, and rampant PMS wreaking havoc- so basically a case of the Mondays, am I right? Luckily, I had an appointment with my psychiatrist the next day and explained how stable I’ve been in the past few months- except for a pesky little depressive mood swing consistently and intensely preceding shark week. She responded with a possible diagnosis of PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder) which I’m super psyched to possibly welcome into my menagerie of disorders.
The reason I’m probably being far too open about this is that I thought my symptoms were either a. me just being incurably crazy b. normal c. not that big of a deal d. a one-time fluke. In a logical mindset, I can see that none of these are true but I still waited far too long to identify it, much less reach out for help. Women have always been discouraged to discuss anything related to menstruation (I cringed even writing that word in what I know will be a public post.) But please know becoming suicidal or wishing harm to your well-being (or the well-being of others) is not a normal symptom of PMS and should be discussed with a mental health professional as soon as possible. And if you’re bipolar like me, try to track your mood swings if you don’t already; I had vaguely thought of doing so since I was diagnosed but waved it away as pointless. Had I done so, I could have easily seen a cyclical pattern and some of my loved ones (as well as myself) some serious grief and worry.
“Leah, what does brazenly discussing your period and mental health issues have, like, anything to do with a salad?” I’m glad you asked. Before trying out a new prescription, I asked my doctor if I could first try altering my diet and see how that would affect my symptoms. I’m not going to go on a full nutrition geek rant but diet is such an underutilized treatment in our present culture. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for medicine and advances in prescription medication. But we all need to be more aware that food choices dictate so much more than just our weight or physical appearance. This winter, especially during Snowstorm Jonas 2k16, it’s been a steady residence in starch, cheese, and meat city for me. Milk (and subsequent dairy products) can be crazy high in estrogen so I’m going to try to shed some animal products in lieu of some more hormone-friendly foods.
While I’m not trying to become vegan anytime soon (I mean, this recipe does include meat and cheese) I can at least focus my meals far more on cruciferous vegetables, which are often spicy, crunchy, green, and (most importantly for the subject of this post) high in isothiocyanates when eaten. These little guys can not only help regulate your hormone balance-isothiocyanates can also stop carcinogens in their tracks and protect your DNA. According to this Huffington Post article by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, “In a recent Chinese study, women who regularly ate one serving per day of cruciferous vegetables had a 50 percent reduced risk of breast cancer.” I straight-up just copy and pasted that quote because hot damn, that statistic needs none of my wordplay to distract. So bring on the broccoli, arugula, cabbage, collards, and all their superpower buddies.
And I don’t know about y’all but at least while I’m initially integrating these veggies into my diet, they’re going to need a little dressing up. Luckily, this recipe (closely adapted from the blog Sugar and Grace’s fantastic version) is simple, delicious, and starring two heavy hitters from the cruciferous family: brussel sprouts and kale.
BEST DAMN SALAD RECIPE
- 1 lb brussel sprouts (shredded)
- 1/2 a bunch (~2-3 cups) kale (destemmed and shredded)
- 4 slices turkey bacon
- 1/2 cup shredded quality Parmesan (or your choice of) cheese
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (shelled, unsalted)
- 1 shallot (chopped)
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Pinch black pepper
- Pinch paprika
- While the original recipe advocates heavily for delicately shredded with a mandolin slicer or good knife, uh, I don’t have that time or patience. So I just popped my washed-n-destemmed brussel sprouts in the food processor for a few pulses.
- Tear your kale up by hand if you haven’t already. Combine the greens and set aside.
- Cook your bacon fully, set aside to cool, and then chop. I know turkey bacon seems like a sacrilege and I initially side-eyed that original recipe- but this choice surprisingly didn’t compromise the needed taste. The fact that it was turkey bacon, however, was my reasoning behind adding some paprika to the dressing for a bit more smokiness.
- Cook your shallots and garlic in the remaining turkey bacon juices (yum, right?)- again, do this if you’d like a little more smokiness in your dressing.
- Add the lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, shallots, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until smooth. In my first attempt, I added some turkey bacon to the dressing but it honestly wasn’t needed.
- Add the dressing, sunflower seeds, cheese, and chopped bacon to your greens. Toss and serve immediately. Oh, and enjoy it because it really is the best damn salad I’ve ever made.
What’s an imperative ingredient for your dream salad? Have any suggestions for reducing them estrogen-boosting foods that I love so dearly? Why do raw brussel sprouts incurably smell like farts? If you have any questions, whether they are recipe-related or not, please write me in the comments below or contact me on my various social media outlets. Also, if you have anything you’d like to see in a future video or post, just let me know. I love hearing from y’all!
Be kind. Live authentically. Practice gratitude. Hustle daily. Work hard. Stay humble.
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