shaved carrot salad with orange, pomegranate and mint

plateThere’s something about the end of another year that makes one strangely contemplative. Whilst I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions, I generally follow the loose aim to try to ‘be better’ as the clock ticks over to January 1.

A better wife; strong, gentle and wise. An efficient worker and homemaker. A better daughter (this one has spanned decades), generous and loyal. A better friend and sister, regardless of time and frustration. A clear representative of my faith. Just generally better than the year before.



Despite realising the folly of setting broad, inchoate goals (less added value, inexorable failure) the ‘reset’ has been somewhat subconscious. I mean, I don’t spend each December 31 meditating upon my failures (okay, well maybe I do to a certain degree), selecting ‘states of betterment’ whilst sitting in the lotus position.

It just happens, like a subtle alarm, the benefit of which is urgency for positive change.
ribbonsSo, on January 1 2016 at 12:59, I’m sitting under the air conditioner with a cup of steaming herbal tea (current temperature is currently 35 degrees C / 95 degrees F but I’m English and tea solves everything). I’m contemplating effective change, clearer goals and less self-depreciation, as adherence to old patterns would cast me as either a fool or a lemming.

Short term goals seem like a good idea. Achievable, smart and time limited. Michael Hyatt seems to think it’s a good idea to write them down, so I’m factoring in some blogosphere accountability (a strange concept indeed) and capping the number at three.

Goal one for this year is to secure a job (preferably) before the end of January. Being unemployed is liberating but also disconcerting in the worst of ways; I’m continually counting pennies with mounting portions of nervous energy. Please don’t be concerned regarding my self esteem or resilience. My contract ended due to economic circumstances within my organisation, not due to individual performance (golly gosh, I think I’d avoid sharing that on the internet. Please know I’m ok!). However, I’ve explained in previous blog posts that I’m a terrible overthinker and free time leads to unconstrained pondering at all times of the day (or night).

I need purpose for my cognition, posthaste.


That leads me to goal two, interim creative projects. I’m going to use my free time (and aforementioned cognition) productively whilst waiting for the right employment door to open. I’m not going to sweat the small stuff, I’m going to exercise a little grace and appreciate each moment as it comes. It’s not exactly an epiphany, but I’m gradually realising that each juncture should be appreciated and utilised, whether it be for breathing space, rest or creativity. However long I’m waiting for a passing train.

Last but not least, goal three: finding a way to reconnect with Church. This is a rather personal goal that may only make sense to those of you who follow a congregational faith. If you’re a Christian, you’re probably familiar with dialogues surrounding Church (and organised religion in general).

I struggle with Church. I find it hard to attend one. But I know that I need to.

pombetterAnyway, as the photographs suggest, I’m posting a recipe today. Something fresh, light and healthy, perfect for hot days and balmy Summer nights. It’s a new favourite on our seasonal menu, mostly due to the innate adaptability of the recipe. Extra hungry? Add protein. Feeling exotic? How about adding some coriander and chopped red chilli?

Just use the basic dressing and carrot ribbons, then follow the core principles below:

  1. freshness – soft herbs like parsley, mint and coriander and/or fresh leaves e.g. some torn baby spinach, rocket, beet leaves or chard
  2. fruit – switch up the pomegranate for some raisins or dried cranberries soaked in the orange juice, add in some grated or slivered apple (perhaps with some chopped celery and walnuts, such a good combination), substitute mandarin for the orange
  3. crunch – substitute the almonds for some toasted, crumbled walnuts or pecans, even some toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
  4. optional added protein (for the extra hungry) – if you’d like to fill out the salad for a healthy light meal, I’ve added a few of my favourite protein-packed ‘extras’ below (under ‘optional add ins’).

As always, thanks to all of you for being not only readers, but friends across the seas. Wishing you a beautiful, blessed and memorable start to 2016!


Shaved Carrot Salad with Orange, Pomegranate and Mint

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a light meal

  • 2 large carrots, washed and peeled
  • 2 spring onions (green shallots), topped and tailed, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • a good handful of washed mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 navel orange, segmented (squeeze the juice from the leftover pulp into the dressing – 1 got about 50mL)
  • a good plug of extra virgin olive oil, about 50mL
  • 2 tbsp (30mL) good quality white wine vinegar
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • a squeeze of honey, to taste (use maple syrup for a vegan alternative)
  • optional, protein-packed add ins: good quality crumbled feta (about 100g will do), Italian canned tuna, rinsed cooked brown lentils, 1 cup cooked quinoa

Using a vegetable peeler, shave long thin strips off each carrot in a lengthwise rotation. Discard the hard centre and stem. Place shaved carrot into a medium bowl with the pomegranate arils, sliced spring onions, orange segments and mint (reserve some pomegranate arils and mint leaves to garnish later. Add in any optional tuna, quinoa, beans, lentils or feta (reserve some crumbled feta for garnish).

In a jug or bowl, whisk together the orange juice, extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and a little honey or maple syrup. Taste, season and adjust sweetness as required.

Pour the dressing over the salad. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes for the flavours to develop. Remove from the refrigerator and gently mix through half of the toasted almonds, reserving the rest for garnish. Use tongs to transfer the salad to a serving platter, allowing excess dressing to drain back into the bowl.

Garnish with reserved pomegranate, mint, toasted almonds, feta (if using) and a grind of black pepper.


47 responses

  1. Happy New Year lovely. I too am sitting under the air-con, filling out my planner for 2016. Good luck with your goals. I too have 3 goals for 2016, which I will break down into 3-monthly & monthly or weekly goals to make them achievable. (Although Derek Sivers argues that sharing goals makes you LESS likely to achieve them [], I’ll let you in on mine – I plan to finish all my physician training, do a chin up and finish doing the Marie Kondo clean-up). I want to add another goal – see my sisterling more often!

    • Oh you beautiful thing – yes, let’s set a regular catch up goal for this year! Time moves forward so quickly, I’m relived that the festive season is mostly over! I have to read some Sivers, thanks for the link – despite reading lots of theory about goal setting, I still seem to practice very little (terrible, as I talk to clients about goal setting on a semi-regular basis; or at least I used to!). Good luck for your goals too, there are some pretty weighty ones in there but I know you can do it! Love xxx

  2. Happy New Year, Laura! I really enjoyed reading about your resolutions, how you feel when you have too much time to think (same here), and your lovely, fresh and festive salad. When I read your posts, I always admire the freedom with which you tackle personal issues and all sorts of more general questions; I feel like we have a lot in common, but I tend to just keep everything to myself. I’ve been struggling with finding a church ever since I moved from Paris to Lille (four years), and even though I occasionally go to one here, I still feel “at home” at my old parish in Paris, and go there whenever I’m in Paris over a weekend or a feast. I really should just go and make my Lille parish a new home, but I am always making excuses not to. Perhaps I should take inspiration from your post and add it to my own list of resolutions. Thank you!
    I wish you all the best for the New Year!

    • Thank you lovely, I appreciate your kind words Darya. It’s a bit of a balance, discussing personal issues and maintaining privacy/positivity within a blog. I guess I tend to be a rather open person and it’s helped me to mentally process things by writing about them. Thanks for sharing with me about the difficulties of finding a new church home in Lille too. Moving away from your church or parish ‘family’ is always tough, I’ve done the same thing a few times and, as I’m a rather shy person, I find it hard to immerse myself into a new congregation full of unfamiliar people. My husband is similar, too. Are there already people you know at the Lille parish? Sending you best wishes and prayers that this will be the year that you reconnect. Hugs to you lovely xx

      • Well, I do know a few people in my parish in Lille, and I know I should just keep going there. It is hard for me to accept how different it is from my parish in Paris (I’ve been going there for over 15 years and still go whenever I’m in Paris on a Sunday), but it is a welcoming parish with lovely people, so there really isn’t much I can complain about. The problem is me, not the church!

      • I can understand how you feel Darya, I think we automatically compare new places to those that we used to call ‘home’ (whether it be a house or a parish). I will be praying that you feel settled this year. May there be positive change for both of us in this area! xx

  3. Happy new year! What a delicious sounding salad. I have always been a fan of your salads and frankly only make yours or Yotams (Ottolhenghi) salad recipes these days. My solitary goal this year is simply the word FINISH. Everything I start, all the house projects staring me in the face, the half embroidered cushion sitting in my linen closet etc. Praying with you that you find the right community, it’s never easy and I thoroughly believe there’s no perfect fit, just the one God calls you to for as long as He calls you there. Keep the recipes coming! Much love xx

    • Ah, I hear you on the ‘finishing’ Ali!! I have so many unfinished projects, some major and some minor. It’s hard, with work pressures and also (being a creative person, I imagine that you might be like me) being inspired by ‘new’ things and moving on before finishing the last project! Great goal, I’ll be praying that it brings you much satisfaction and achievement (without too much frustration, haha). As for the salads, you’ve given me a massive compliment by placing me in the same sentence as Yotam. He’s a hero of mine, I adore his books and his concepts regarding vegetable dishes. I visited his Ottolenghi Belgravia deli during our trip in 2014 and I was bursting with excitement over the salad bar, haha. We should definitely have a salad day before the end of summer ;) Thanks for your prayers regarding a congregation, too. I feel the same, I need to listen harder, I think. Thanks for taking the time to write xx

    • Thanks Graz, haha… I always get a bit moody and contemplative when it comes to the end of another year, so that’s what ended up in this post! I’ve been eating too many carrots, I think ;P Definitely looking forward to seeing you guys, I’ll make sure Matt and I keep those dates free for beers and friendly competition! Let me know which of the nights/days looks best for you and Jennee. Happy new year!

  4. Happy New Year, dear one!! I love your goals, and quite frankly, a bit jealous that you are focused like this. Or, focused at all (not my forte, I’m sorry to say). You’ll find an opportunity that’s even better for you, of that I’m sure, and one that is easier on your hand. As far as the church thing–it’s so hard to find a church that you are comfortable in. We are both terribly introverted, so it’s so easy to think about just staying at home, but we get so much growth from our pastor. I’m sending you the link to our church, and if you look on the right side, you’ll see a link to our latest message. Last week was our assistant pastor, but this week is our senior pastor, whom we really love. Anyway, you might glean something from the messages. I’m continuing to pray for you during this transition period. I’ll be looking forward to your post with the good news! xx

    • Haha, thanks so much. I appreciate your encouragement and the link to the message – I’ll definitely give it a listen! Glad to know you ‘get’ the introverted thing too, I’m very similar and both Aaron and I struggle with ‘meet and greet’ sessions etc (which seem to be a part of every church we’ve visited! Argh). Praying for you and Jerry too. It seems to be a year of change and I’m very grateful for God in the midst of it xx

  5. Laura I’ve never read you in an English accent before! How can this be so? How did I miss this? Now what area accent shall I pin you with? :-)
    Awesome looking salad, crisp, crunchy, summery goodness.

    • Hahaha! Well, I’ve lost most of my English accent over the years (I pretty much consider it gone, though it’s still detected by people on a semi regular basis) but I spent my early years in Ealing (to the west, outer borough of London) and then in Laleham/Staines (in Surrey, south west of London). I’m pretty much Aussie now, especially from a cultural point of view (except when it comes to tea, Christmas, marmalade toast, the weather and football – not soccer!). Thanks Brydie xx

  6. Happy New Year Laura! I have sort of stopped making concrete resolutions, opting to be generally BETTER in everything too. A better person. Good luck in your job searching, I know about that all too well… But yes use your precious free time – which you would have way little of once you have a job – doing other all these other things that make you grow and provide happiness. Even though it is winter here, I’ve been making salads very much like yours, plus I’ve been especially obsessed with pomegranate and mint too :) Wishing you all the best for the new year, and sending hugs! xxx

    • Thanks Sofia, I appreciate it! I have had similar ideas to you for a long time but I guess I guilted myself out over the stuff that I failed at. Maybe my resolution should really be to exercise grace (for myself!) more than anything else, haha. Hope that your winter isn’t too cold over there. I’m like you, I eat salads at any time of the year. Definitely a favourite of mine! Sending you hugs back, looking forward to hopefully seeing you in the new year! xx

  7. Happy New Year to you too Laura. I certainly hope that this will be a year of renewed health and happiness for the two of you. Your salad is beautiful…I think you could take the ugliest of ingredients and turn them into a work of art. Oranges are in season here in Florida right now so I’ll be trying your carrot salad.

  8. Hi Laura– so many things to comment about on this post–but I don’t want to “over-comment!” First of all loved the adjectives you chose for the goals of being a better wife, sister, daughter… Generous and loyal are the perfect focus for being a everlovin’ daughter– I’m going to hold those for how I care for my mom this year.
    And when I pray for my kids in the mornings, I’ll pray for you and the job waiting ahead– and those interim projects you mentioned. Who knows what God has for you in these days of waiting with the gift of extra time and energy?? Hoping you’ll find a job that uses your very real talents of expression– your writing and design sense that we get to see on your bright and beautiful blog.
    And praying you’ll find the church that feels like home to you and Aaron. That can be difficult, take perseverance. I’m rather shy myself, but I have a group of friends from church who have met every Monday night to read and pray together for the last 20 years– together we’ve raised our kids, been through weddings, cancer, divorce, job difficulties, becoming grandmothers… I don’t know how I’d do without them. They remind me every week what is true and eternal. And the moments in my life of purest joy are sitting with a roomful of other people who love God and worship Him along with me. I hope you find your best place to grow in your faith and love for God– and know his infinite love for you.
    Laura– you are an amazing writer– open and fresh and inventive. I’m thankful to have happened upon your posts– so much beauty and a realness. Blessings on your week ahead..

    • Haha, no need to worry about over-commenting Rhonda! I love everything you write and I appreciate that you take the time to share and encourage me :) Glad that you found the adjectives to ring true for yourself regarding being a ‘daughter’. It took me a little while to choose the ones that I thought were most accurate for me. I never feel that I have enough generosity, patience and time for the people I love most in this life.
      Thanks so much for your prayers, they mean so much. I’ve dreamed about being able to use the creative side of myself in a job for ages but have never found the right opportunity. Who knows, maybe this is God’s way of closing the practical door and giving me more time and motivation to be creative!
      As for Church, it’s been a bit of a journey. Both Aaron and I still spend a lot of time with our home group friends from the previous church we attended (for quite a few friends we met twice a week, on Sundays and on Wednesday nights) but everyone’s now gone their separate ways and we no longer fellowship together in a formal sense. I’m not really certain which direction I should take in terms of finding a new church body. I am praying though as I very much feel the same as you in regards to the accountability, support, love and mutual responsibility that is found in a Church setting. Watch this space :)
      Thanks again Rhonda, I appreciate you. Thanks for taking the time to write. I’ll be praying for you and your family too xxx

  9. Lovely post Laura… I just love the beautiful color of the carrots..they look so delicate shaved, just a really lovely salad full of colors…I pray the Lord blesses you this year with a church family. God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory Psalm 84:11 … much love, Sarah

    • Hello lovely, for some reason I had no idea that we were both Christians! I appreciate the verse you included, heartfelt prayers that you’ll also have an incredibly blessed year ahead. I’ve been so behind on my blog reading this year, I’ll have to catch up on yours. Sending you hugs xx

    • Haha, aw thanks Shanna. I love that way of looking at it! You’re kind of right, I definitely find the kitchen to be a relaxing, creative and ‘grounding’ place :) And yup, we’re definitely salad sisters – I get heaps of inspiration from your salads too! x

  10. Laura, I have been “dwelling” on your post for a while now not sure about the content of my comment. So here it is.
    I’m really sorry to hear that you lost your job. To be honest with you, being out of job is something I wouldn’t wish to my worst enemy. Not only for the money subject which – of course – is very important but also for self-esteem and self-fulfilling issues which are even more important to me. Especially at your age. Later on your priorities will probably change especially when kids come into the equation.
    Having said that, I think things always happen for a reason. Something else and – I’m sure – better is waiting for you. An opportunity that will present itself at the right time and it will be up to you to recognize and seize it. Hopefully, it will happen by the end of January as you wish. Maybe it will take a little longer. But it will come your way.
    In the meantime … you are right: use your time creatively.
    I wish you all the best of luck!
    PS: Did I mention that your salad looks stunning?

    • Oh, thank you so much lovely, I appreciate you taking the time to write. Although I’ve been way behind on my blog reading recently, both you and Stefano are warm, genuine people whom I feel glad to have met in this ‘blogosphere’. I hope 2016 has treated you well so far!
      As for my current situation, I should probably count myself lucky. I’m only out of a job due to economic issues in my workplace, rather than individual performance etc. I’m working on figuring out my options and I need to motivate myself to organise my creative space in the meantime. It’s uncertain but I know it will work out, whether through creative projects or formal employment. I won’t put too much pressure on myself, your words are definitely a good reminder of that (and that things happen for a reason, I do agree!). Thanks so much for the encouragement Francesca, I appreciate it. And yes, I might make the salad again on this very warm weekend xx

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  12. Hello Laura!! We had your salad on Sunday– it was so beautiful and bright and crunchy and sweet. Thanks thanks. It’s always a good thing to open up your warm and welcoming and delicious blog. Blessings. xo

    • Aw yay! Thanks so much for letting me know Rhonda! I saw your post – the salad looked gorgeous, you plated it so beautifully with the fresh mint :) Glad that both you and Larry enjoyed the flavours too. Sending you hugs and blessings, stay warm over there! xx

      • Thanks Laura– yep, we really loved it! res things we have around all winter (and mint growing a little too abundantly in our yard!) Happy Wednesday (or is it Thursday there yet??)!!

      • Haha, it was almost Thursday – about 11pm Wed night! Now I’m waking up to watch the Bulls vs Warriors live 5pm Wed game at 9am Thurs my time… Weird huh? Xx

      • Funny! I would never have expected you to be an American basket ball fan!! — The years we lived in Spain Larry would stay up through the middle of the night to listen to Armed Forces Radio to hear the last game of the baseball world series. — Hope your favorite team wins Laura!1

      • Oh thanks Rhonda! So cool to hear about your and Larry’s late night baseball stories, haha (the things we do out of passion for our teams!). Yes Golden State won, though it was a little disappointing for the Bulls (being their 50th anniversary, 80’s night etc on their home ground). Aaron and I are huge American NBA fans since we were tiny (my first stop on visiting the US at age 10 was to buy basketball merchandise! haha). It’s our dream to get to an actual game one day :)

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