Islands and Mangoes

Dealing with life’s challenges is a little like eating a mango. It’s a messy proposition but worth it in the end. As I see it, being a little sticky and picking hair-like mango pieces out of my teeth is a small price to pay for the sweet, perfumed joy of diving face first into all that orange goodness.

As for life, well…you get the analogy. We all face the uphill struggles of living, some of us perhaps more than others. But I’ve been told that if you sit around a table with 10 people and ask everyone to toss their problems in the center, chances are, you will take back your own.

The other day, I spent a lovely afternoon with four lady friends of mine. We are all of us mothers; one of us is a grandmother, so we’ve been around the block a few times. We have all known sadness and loss, and we are all  blessed with abundant good fortune. We have loved and protected our children until it hurts. We have opened our hearts and thus reaped great rewards, and each of us has felt the sting of betrayal. We have celebrated and been celebrated, for we have accomplished much during our time on earth. And we know, down to our very core, that the best is yet to come.

“Each day starts washed, swept, utterly different than the day before. The morning crackles like a never-turned page. Where else in the world do we get the chance to step out into so much renewal? Where else do we keep getting second chances at ourselves? (from How to Live on an Island).

This Chopped Salad with Shallot and Poppy Seed Dressing (adapted from Terry Walters’ Clean Food) hits three of the four basic taste types: sweet, sour and bitter. It reminds me a little of life itself. We wash down the sour and bitter with the sweet and we start fresh again.

8 stalks of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1 T. lemon juice
2 heads endive, chopped
1 head radicchio, chopped
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c. kalamata olives, pitted
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped

1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1 small shallot, diced
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 c. agave nectar
2 T. poppy seeds
1 c. toasted pumpkin seeds (for garnish)

Blanch the asparagus pieces and toss in a large bowl. Set aside.

Place avocado chunks in a small bowl and add lemon juice to prevent browning. Combine avocado with asparagus and add remaining salad ingredients. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine all dressing ingredients, except poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds. Whisk together by hand or with a handheld blender. Stir in poppy seeds.

Pour dressing over salad and top with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serves 8 as a side salad.

Chopped Salad with Shallot and Poppy Seed Dressing

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