So I did a sneaky thing and slipped away to Mexico last week. Tee hee. Yeah, I was kind of thinking I should get the travel ball rolling early in 2011, because, well, it’s just what I’m about. I get so much inspiration from visiting exotic locales, meeting new people, experiencing all the sights, sounds, smells, and of course tastes, of a new place. It goes without saying that nothing opens up your mind, heart, and palette like a good trip, am I right?
This travel experience was no exception – it was exceptional. I have never had the privilege of going to Mexico before and it really exceeded all of my expectations. My wanderlust mother and I flew into Guadalajara and took up residence about 40 minutes away in a small village called Ajijic, situated up in the mountains on the largest lake in the country. Stunning. This place was so bright and colourful (if only you could see my photo album…), the climate was perfection, and the food? Fresh central. We were staying with friends that had an avocado tree growing in their yard, right next to the lemons and just above kumquats. Sigh. A perfect breakfast growing steps away from where I slept.
I was particularly inspired at the local market, where every single fruit, vegetable, bean, and nut I have ever encountered was for sale, and then some. Soursops, guanabanas, huazontle?! The exciting list went on and my appetite reared its head. The thing that really got me revved up though? The fresh chickpeas (garbanzo beans), still in their pods, roasting to smoky perfection! “Who knew they looked like that?”, Sarah B. asked sheepishly. I thought I’d seen just about everything until these jewel-green chickpea pockets crossed my path, and I am one chickpea-lovin’ lady!
After a thorough perusal of the goods up for sale, I settled on the ripest mango, fresh cilantro, jicama, limes, red peppers, carrots, and some dried garbanzos. I felt a spicy mango smoothie coming on to smother some lucky chickpeas! Ooh mama.
I ate a lot of mangoes in Mexico. They are one of my all-time fav fruits, and when you can practically get them from the backyard, the flavour is unlike anything on this earth.
Aside from being downright delicious and sweet as candy, mangoes are an exceptionally healthy fruit. They are a good source of vitamins C and E, but they are vitamin A superstars – a single fruit can boast up to 10,000 IU of the stuff (holy cow, that’s a lot). Vitamin A can help preserve and improve eyesight, as well as help fight off viral infections.
Mangoes are also fairly rich in many minerals, including zinc to combat acne and psoriasis, boost the immune system, and speed up wound healing. They also contain magnesium to relax your nerves and muscles (especially good for menstrual cramps), build and strengthen bones, and keep your blood circulating smoothly.
How awesome is it discovering that the food you love, loves you back?
Garbanzo Bean Salad with Mexican Mango Dressing
3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas) (about 2 cans)
1 red bell pepper
½ large jicima root (or any crunchy veg)
1 cup chopped spinach
½ cup cilantro
(Besides the garbanzo beans, the other vegetables are totally your choice. These are the veggies that I bought at the market, and that I had on hand in the fridge. Use anything you can to sop up all that delicious dressing, otherwise, the beans will be swimming in it! Try to get something green in ya – that’s where the spinach comes in, and you won’t even taste it. The cilantro, however, is NOT optional.)
1 large, ripe mango
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 large green onions, with tops
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. sea salt
½ chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (substitute ¼ tsp. ground chipotle or use your favorite chili spice)
1. Peel mango and place in a blender with all other dressing ingredients. Blend on high until uniform and creamy. It will look like a smoothie. Season to taste.
2. In a large bowl, pour dressing over garbanzo beans and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad filling (at this point you will undoubtedly say, “Sarah, there’s way too much dressing.” Trust me.).
3. As you chop up the vegetables for the salad, add them as you go and stir to get an idea on how much more you need. Stop when the salad is well-dressed but not super gloppy.
4. Serve with sliced avocado and lime wedges on the side. Garnish with more cilantro, sprouts, pumpkin seeds, or whatever you have on hand.
To make it a complete meal: Serve this salad on top of coconut rice or quinoa, and make sure to include the side of avocado.
Raw Twist: To make this a truly raw salad, use sprouted garbanzo beans! When the weather warms up, sprout the beans for 3 – 4 days and simply use the same dressing.
So if you can’t get away to the sun, you can at least get away to the grocery store and make this salad for yourself. It is a sure-fire way to feel sunny on the inside!