True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done,
the zest of creating things new.
 — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Lately, I’ve been motivated to find ways to get healthier. I already consider myself a healthy person—I eat well, exercise and limit my intake of processed and high fat foods—but I think I can take it up a notch or two. A couple of things I’ve decided to do is make it a priority to increase my intake of nutrient-dense (mainly plants) foods, following a plant-based diet. I also want to find ways to be more active.

I recently purchased a new generation digital pedometer called a Fitbit. It tracks my steps, distance, calories burned, and number of stairs I’ve climbed during the day. It supposedly can also measure my sleep quality, help me to learn how to sleep better, and wake me in the morning (but my toddler has that covered as he likes to wake up before 6am!). I haven’t yet taken advantage of all the features of my new gadget, I’ve been most interested in tracking the amount of steps I take everyday. My daily goal is to reach at least 10,000 steps.

The American Heart Association recommends we take 10,000 steps everyday to maintain good health. This translates to walking about five miles or about 90 minutes everyday. Studies have shown that as little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day results in a dramatic increase in health benefits. By walking just 30 minutes a day your chances of a premature death can drop by as much as 20 percent.

Steps are cumulative, starting from the time you get out of bed in the morning to when you rest your head on your pillow at night. With a pedometer, I like to see my progress throughout the day, encouraging me to gather more steps when I have the opportunity. A little here, a little there, and at the end of the day it all adds up. The real-time feedback is quite motivating to find ways to keep moving! I’ve found that my Fitbit not only acts like a compass to let me know where I am, in terms of reaching my daily goal, but it also encourages me to be more active. I oftentimes find myself taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a quick walk when I can, and parking in the space farthest from where I need to go. I also find that I don’t normally reach 10,000 steps without some thought and effort. However, my greatest challenge is not only reaching 10,000 steps a day, it’s actually remembering to wear my pedometer…. When I do remember, the other challenge for me is trying to get it back from my little one who, like most toddlers, loves to hold small things, especially when they have a button and numbers that light up when pressed.

With my plans in place to be more active and walk more, I was also motivated and inspired to make this nutrient dense and delicious salad made with kamut, an ancient grain. A nutritious and rich source of protein, iron and fiber, kamut berries are a tasty addition to this very colorful and nutrient-packed salad.

How about you, what keeps you motivated to be more active and eat nutritious foods? Have you ever worn a pedometer? I’d love to know.

My salad was a Community Pick at Food52

French Lentil, Kamut and Avocado Salad with Basil Dressing
Serves up to 4

1/2 cup French lentils
1/2 cup kamut berries, soaked overnight and drained
3-4 cups water or vegetable broth
4-5 cups (5 ounces) arugula and other mixed greens
1 fennel bulb, sliced
3 carrots, peeled in strips
3 radishes, julienned
3 mini or 1 large cucumber, julienned
1 tomato, diced
3 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons flaxseeds

Basil Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh basil
lemon juice or vinegar, to taste
salt, to taste

Boil lentils in water or vegetable broth in a medium saucepan until slightly tender. Drain and allow to cool.

In a medium saucepan, bring kamut berries to boil in 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the kamut berries are tender, but still slightly chewy, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain any remaining liquid and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, toast pumpkin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool. In a mini food processor blend the oil, garlic, fresh basil and salt.

Once the lentils and kamut have cooled, make the salad. In a large bowl, add greens, fennel, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, green onions, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds. Gradually add basil dressing, keeping in mind you may no use all of it. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust for salt. Let salad sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Toss again before serving; sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds, and serve with 1/4 or 1/2 avocado.

Martine’s Notes:
When using kamut, don’t forget to soak overnight in advance. If you have difficulty finding kamut, you can substitute it with farro, spelt, or wheat berries.

For another salad using kamut, look here.

10 thoughts on “French Lentil, Avocado and Kamut Salad with Basil Dressing

  1. This salad looks great and healthy. I’ve not had the chance to try kamut yet, but will be on the look-out for it in the market. It’s great to read about your use of Fitbit and all the health facts about walking. I used a pedometer for a while (Polaris, rather than Fitbit), but I found I really upped my everyday walking when my husband and I both wore them and got a little competitive about how many steps we took each day. Talk about motivation! Good luck to you and I feel inspired to pull out my pedometer again!

    1. Thank you Ngan! Please, pull out that pedometer!!! :-) It’s funny how wearing something so small and comparing your number of steps a day with someone else can really make you competitive. In the past, my friends, colleagues and I used to compete wearing a different pedometer (Omron) than the Fitbit. We were all very competitive and often reached 15,000-20,000 steps in one day! Yes, a little competition is a great motivator! Good luck to you too. Let’s get moving!

  2. I’m glad to hear you continue to strive for health in every way. The salad looks amazingly flavorful! I am curious about this fitbit, which is all the rave. I use a garmin for my walks with the kids, which is nice, but not entirely practical. Best of luck in your journey, Martine!

    1. Hi Shanna! Nice to hear from you again. Glad you liked the salad. The Fitbit is nice because it’s small, sleek and dark (a little less conspicuous) than what I had before. I have the “One” model. It’s nice that it has wireless capabilities and that you can have Fitbit friends to track each other’s progress online, especially if you want to encourage each other and perhaps compete. Sadly, I’m not regularly meeting my 10,000 steps so I need to get to step in’ more next week! Do you easily make it to 10,000/day?

      1. Hi, Martine… I read a long time ago that one needs to walk about five total miles a day for weight maintenance and overall health, so I’ve been doing it daily for years. :-) I am the type of person who needs to move; it makes a huge difference in my feeling of well-being and happiness. Early summer mornings used to be my favorite time to walk when I had one little lovebug to pop in the stroller. :-) Happy Father’s Day to your hubby!

        1. Shanna, you’re absolutely right about the importance of walking about 5 miles a day! Moving/exercising also impacts my sense of well-being. I mentioned it’s with some effort that I need to reach my 10,000 steps a day goal, for me this means I have to get on the treadmill for at least 30 minutes or allocate time in the day to walk outdoors! Did so this morning with the baby in tow in the stroller. Early summer mornings are great times to walk. We enjoyed hearing the birds today. :-) I hope you had a nice weekend and your husband a nice Father’s Day (even if he had to work, I hope not)! Have a great week!

        2. Hi, Martine. The birds and your holiday sound lovely. Yes, every day is a work day (and often night) for the other half. Steps: today we walked to the hospital and back to bring hubby caprese and quinoa salads for lunch. Later, I hopped on the treadmill. With two kids and the summer heat, the treadmill is excellent. I invested in a great-quality one – exercise is more difficult after the first child. I prefer to be outside or catching up on my BBC shows while I clock those steps… no gym for me. I cannot imagine being a working/staying at home mother without my double stroller and in-house walking machine. It really is a privilege to have access to such things, so I’m grateful. Have a healthful week: active and fresh. Best!

        3. Wow, good for you. I’m impressed how you keep so active with two little ones and another soon to come! We have a small gym in our building which is convenient. For me, it’s best if I can walk on the treadmill early, before baby wakes up at 5:30/6am, or after he goes to bed. While he’s napping would be a great time but I can’t leave our apt and no room yet for a treadmill. My challenge is getting up at 4am and walking at night when I often have so many other things I want to do. But I’m trying to make it more of a priority. NO EXCUSES MARTINE! Is what I tell myself! :-) I hope you’re having a great week!

        4. Martine, I really think the treadmill is the answer for you. If there is a way to get one in your place, do it. I just finished a long walk after an unexpected nap from the littlest one. The four-year-old is happy to read or watch a program (I know, bad mommy!) while I walk. In the meantime, I used to wake up at 5 AM to walk or run, so I completely feel your pain. You can do it! Keep it up! Best – Shanna

        5. Unfortunately we just don’t have the space right now for a treadmill. So I’ll just have to be better at getting up before the babe. YEARS ago I used to run 6 miles everyday! Can’t do that anymore, hurt my knee. Will get to walking everyday! Thanks for the encouragement!!!

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