“Eat your veggies or you’ll get scabs behind your ears!”

That’s always been my grandma’s prophecy anyway. So far, I’m in the clear. I guess my mother raised me well when it comes to a balanced diet – even though, as a wee one, I was caught more than once drinking a glass of milk that turned pink as I simultaneously spit my beets into it. These days, beets, spinach, a little goat cheese, and a sprinkling of walnuts might be one of my favorite things to nosh on.

Some things do change, it seems.

Enter the Soupstravaganza of this past winter, which is begging for a warm weather encore. To be honest, raw vegetables really aren’t my thing (blame my Vata dosha – read: raw vegetables should be minimized. Oh, and *gas* is a problem. DUH.). I’m much more in love with them when I can roast them or cook ’em up in a soup or stew. Which means summer can be a bit challenging for me, though there are certainly toasty warm days when I crave a big bowl of greens with all the trimmings. But generally, I need to mix my lettuce and whatnot with warmer, richer foods. Frankly, this is also a great way to turn what’s usually regarded as a light, healthy meal into a heartier, still-healthy meal that doesn’t boast the Chinese food “oh-shit-I’m-hungry-again” effect after an hour. Just keep in mind that *greens* should comprise the bulk of the meal here. Also, jazzing up said greens by adding flavor in this way nixes the need for dressing. So you bulk up your nutrients while cutting out the fat. Sweet deliciousness.

And with that, I bestow upon you the “recipe” for this evening’s dinner. Note that this serves one as the main dish; two as a side, if you insist upon serving it as such. The best part of this may be that it takes about ten minutes to go from fridge to table. Tweak as you see fit, eat as you will. Forks up!

Hearty Spicy Salad

2 cups mixed greens (I use half spinach, half baby greens/arugula)

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Half an avocado, cubed

3 Tbsp. sweet white corn – frozen or fresh, if you’ve got the latter on hand

1/4 cup Whole Foods organic spicy black beans, drained – don’t rinse!

1/4 cup brown rice pilaf (I use this brand, which you can get in the frozen aisle at Whole Foods. All you do is warm it in the microwave for three minutes. You could also use plain brown rice – I buy this brand’s version of that as well, available at both Whole Foods and Costco. But I like the spices in the pilaf, not to mention the dash of extra veggies.)

1 *small* handful rice & bean chips, crushed (I crumble these suckers right here on top of any and every salad I make – it’s the best way to add crunch and an extra kick of flavor without going the crouton route. My friend Laurel got me hooked on these – I buy them at Whole Foods or QFC, but they’re also sold at Costco and I’m gonna to need to go that route soon because they’re like CRACK.)

Bonus for those who give a rat’s ass – this is both vegan and gluten-free. Veg on!

(P.S. In the spirit of full disclosure – because I, like George Washington, cannot tell a lie – that photo above is *not* the salad I made. It’s actually not a salad I ever made. I just had no idea when I whipped this thing up tonight that it would be as good as it was and, thus, photoworthy. Not that any photo I’d take would be remotely as well-styled as what’s going on here. So just play along nicely and trust that it was pretty…sans the dressing. And the chickpeas. Booyah.)

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