Goodbye low carb, buff rock climber, paleo inspired food mentality! You might work okay for some men, but for active women like myself, you do more harm than good. After years of night sweats and workouts plagued with low energy, a nutritionist friend finally confirmed something I’d been wondering: I need to eat more carbs. She didn’t mean chocolate croissant, churro, and confetti cake kind of carbs (although, I’m not opposed to the first two every once in a while!). She meant whole grain carbohydrates. I’d already been working more carbs in the form of Honey Stinger Waffles and Energy Chews into my training fuel, but during the day I was still living mostly on vegetables, beans, and maybe a little bit of brown rice (Artec calls it fart salad!) and the occasional burger without a bun.
I’d mentioned the night sweats to several different doctors (sometimes I’d wake up feeling clammy and other times I’d wake up with the sheets soaked in sweat) who all disregarded it because everything else about me seemed pretty healthy. My nutritionist friend explained the night sweats were related to high progesterone levels most likely caused by a combination of high cortisol and not eating enough carbohydrates.
Recently, I also had blood work come back with some important vitamins and minerals at really low levels. This surprised me because of all the vegetables I consume on a daily basis. Since I’m on a new carbohydrate kick, I’ve decided to experiment with ancient grains because they are typically more nutrient-dense than typical grains like rice and wheat. Up first on my list: Italian farro turned into a salad with all the CSA goodies from my share at Flagstaff Eco Ranch.
Why farro is so good for you:
- A great source of vitamins A, B, C, and E as well as minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and iron – check AuthorityNutrition.com and OrganicAuthority.com for more details
- Seven grams of protein per serving according to the Earthly Choice brand I used in this recipe
- Five grams of fiber per serving
Local Vegetable (Flagstaff Eco Ranch CSA!) Farro Salad Ingredients 1 Cup Chopped Carrots ½ Cup Chopped Radishes 1 Cup Peas (shelled) 1 Bunch Carrot Greens 1 Bunch Radish Tops 1 Bunch Chard (or other hearty leafy green) 1 Clove of Garlic 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil or Avocado Oil 1 Cup Farro 1 Lemon ¼ Cup Goat, Feta or Parmesan Cheese Chives or Fresh Herbs for Garnish
Cook the farro according to the package instructions (to maximize nutritional value try soaking them for a day or 2 – or, for an even better nutritional boost, soak them for 3-5 days until they sprout). Saute the garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, add the chopped carrots and cook until the carrots are al dente (about 7 minutes). Add the radishes, carrot tops, and peas and cook for another 3-5 minutes (if you’re using garden fresh peas and radishes like me, be sure to not overcook them). Note: I added the carrot tops at this stage – instead of with the other greens – because they can be a little bitter when undercooked.
Pulse the radish greens and the chard in a food processor. You can also chop the greens by hand, but using a food processor is my new favorite method – it’s super fast, cuts down on cook time, and makes undercooked or raw leafy greens taste better! If using the food processor method, shake the container of greens in between pulses so the leaves at the top make it down to the blades at the bottom. Add the pulsed greens to the other vegetables and cook for 1-2 minutes.
When the farro is finished cooking, stir in a little olive oil and the juice of the lemon. Mix in the vegetables and garnish with the chives and your cheese of choice. Pair with a side of protein (I grilled some salmon after soaking it in a balsamic and fresh oregano marinade), or eat the salad on its own by the bowl full! Be sure to plot your next adventure while eating it.