March is Nutrition Month, bring on the local carrots!

March is Nutrition Month and this year's theme is 'Celebrate Food, From Field to Table'. Root Cellars Rock! is certainly backing up that idea, and we're happy to celebrate Nutrition Month and all of NL's locally produced, healthy foods along with dietitians across the province. Keep an eye on Root Cellars Rock! for the rest of the month for more healthy recipes and information about Nutrition Month. This is the second edition from a new series of cooking posts that I mentioned last week when making Butternut Pancakes. I had my eye on a bag of carrots from Lester's Farm Market in St. John's as the star of my next cooking post. I wanted to make something fresh-tasting with them since I've been feeling the winter dullness lately and I'm trying to energize myself with more raw and colourful foods. This bright orange salad seemed just right.

I didn't have fresh chives like the recipe calls for. Chives grow fantastically in NL, so come summertime I'll have loads of them and I'm looking forward to making this recipe again with chives from the garden. But in the meantime I used organic green onions instead. This growing season I'll try preserving local chives so that I have them in the winter. To learn more about planting, picking, preparing, and preserving chives, check out this article.

This salad is a great way to get in your veggies for the day, and taking it for lunch was easy and a nice change from heavier wintertime meals. Try making this recipe and other healthy ones that use local vegetables and share them with your friends and family as a way to celebrate Nutrition Month.

Nutrition Month Carrot and Seed Salad

(adapted from Carrot and Seed Salad on the foodblog Cooking Books)

1 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds 1 tablespoon canola oil 8 medium carrots, grated (by hand or in a food processor) A handful of fresh chives, chopped up (or 3-4 green onions chopped up) 1/2 cup lemon juice, which is the juice from about 2 1/2 lemons 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 tablespoon local NL honey (heat the honey a bit to make it liquid so it mixes easier in the dressing, you can substitute maple syrup or 1 tablespoon sugar if you don't have honey) 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl toss the sunflower seeds with the canola oil and then spread them out on a baking sheet. You may want to put down tinfoil or parchment paper first to protect your pan. Toast the seeds for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them and shake the pan a couple of times while they're toasting to keep them from burning. Set the seeds aside to cool.

Place the grated carrots in your serving bowl and set that aside too.

For the dressing, whisk or blend together the lemon juice, salt, black pepper and honey. Then add the olive oil and whisk it all together.

Pour the dressing over the carrots, and mix. Taste a little bit now and add more lemon juice, pepper, or salt to your preference. You may want to add other seasonings you like at this point too that aren't in the recipe.

Now that the seeds are cooled,  add most of the seeds and most of the chopped up chives to the carrot mix and stir them in. Garnish the salad with the remaining seeds and chives and serve. Enjoy!

Note: Apples diced small, raisins, other kinds of seeds, nuts, and dried fruits would all be nice added to this salad for more colour and flavour.