What looked to be a beautifully arranged mixture of super-foods, didn’t live up to it’s hype and taught me an important lesson about Intuitive Eating. 

As a major foodie, one of my favorite past-times is to browse the internet for new recipes. If I’m not careful, several hours can go by where I’m doing nothing but reading recipes for summer squash or articles describing five new ways to eat pasta. I recently stumbled on a recipe for a farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes, kale and pomegranate seeds. The photos were breathtakingly beautiful. There’s something about a perfectly arranged plate full of super foods that makes my dietitian heart skip a beat.  

When I found this recipe, I already knew I wasn’t a big fan of farro. My husband, Nick, had never had it before, and turns out that this was a bad recipe for a farro virgin. But, I thought, it’s a fiber rich grain and look how pretty it looks in the photographs!

The recipe called for cumin (neither of us are big fans), sweet potatoes, lemon juice, onions, spinach, and walnuts. The sweet potato, onions and walnuts all had to be diced into tiny pieces and roasted individually for different times which was a lot of work. I also had to seed an entire pomegranate which is messy and bothersome in itself, is almost not worth it.  All while keeping an eye on the pot of farro bubbling away on the stove top.

I realize that sometimes healthier dishes take a little more elbow grease to get on the table, but this was ridiculous. Too many steps and too many different flavors and ingredients. When I finally finished (almost an hour later), I took Nick a plate. He looked down, then looked back at me. Apprehensively, he took a bite. 

“I feel like I’m eating pebbles and dirt that I had to forage from the forest.”

After taking a few bites myself, and the earthy taste really got to me. The farro was too crunchy and the cumin was overpowering. I just tried to eat the little roasted sweet potato cubes, but again, too much cumin. I felt bad for the poor, wasted pomegranate seeds. Usually my favorite fruit, they were now covered in onion juice and cumin.

I decided to take this cooking disaster and turn it into a lesson. Just because a recipe contains a handful of “super foods”, whole grains, and is packed with veggies, doesn’t mean it tastes good. When you jam pack a smorgasbord of flavors and textures together like this, it’s too much. I knew I wasn’t a fan of cumin, and that Nick doesn’t like his spinach sautéed. I knew that farro wasn’t my favorite ancient grain. But I forgot about all of that when I saw how “healthy” and “nutrient packed” this dish was. 

It’s important to know which foods you enjoy, and to eat them often. When you force yourself to eat things you know you don’t like (or you’re just eating it to be “healthy”), you end up feeling unsatisfied. This leads to craving foods you do like, and then the likely overeating of those foods.

You want to know what we did after attempting to eat the forest salad? I made a giant pot of macaroni and cheese. I had to use lasagna noodles because that’s the only thing we had and sliced them into little pieces. I whipped up a quick roux with milk, butter and some cheddar cheese and tossed everything together with green beans from the freezer. And you know what? It was delicious.

We ended up probably eating more of the mac n cheese than we would have if we hadn’t had the horrible farro salad beforehand—we created an emotional hunger that only macaroni and cheese could fill. Because not only were we still physically in need of sustenance, we weren’t satisfied. See how it works there?

After this recipe disaster, I took a break from posting recipes on my blog. I swore to myself that I would never post a recipe that I didn’t absolutely love and that didn’t satisfy our taste buds. And maybe I’ll narrow my internet searches to more Nick-approved ingredients.


  1. Cumin with anything sweet like fruit would make me weary haha! I’ve never had farro before. I like your perspective on this! It’s a good message. Even I don’t like kale so I know not everyone will love every seemingly healthy food.

    1. Yeah, I should have seen it coming with the cumin haha. :)

  2. Sorry you had that experience but thanks for sharing your reminders about food! I LOLed at your quote about Nick’s thoughts on the dish :) Hope you guys have a great 2016!!

    1. Haha yeah he always makes me laugh with his food comments :)

  3. Fantastic lesson and moment of reflection, Emily. I agree, if it doesn’t taste good–don’t eat it! Even if everybody else swears by it and holds the food up on a pedestal. I wish I liked rice–but I never have and probably never will. Therefore, I do not force myself to eat rice, no matter how healthy it can be and how often it’s featured in so many healthier dishes. Same thing with quinoa. Not a fan.

    1. Healthy food is held on such a high pedestal! I feel like so many people are forcing themselves to like certain foods. Once you know you don’t like something (and have tried it cooked multiple ways) it does more harm to eat it than to leave it out.

  4. LOL! Love this post! It really IS a beautiful salad though :) Not pinning

    1. Haha thank you for not pinning!! :) That made me laugh

  5. I LOVE farro, but this recipe does not sound good because of the pomegranate and cumin mix. This is a good lesson to pay attention to what you know you like!

    1. Do you have a favorite farro recipe? I need to try it again cooked a different way!

      1. I use it as a rice replacement. I frequently just cook it plain and serve it topped with meat and veggies. As a side, I boil it in a lot of salted water (pasta quantity of water, simmer for about 35-40 min), drain it (don’t wait for it to absorb everything like rice), drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. So good! I love the al dente texture. It also works really well in soups, giving a similar texture to barley and it saves well because it doesn’t get mushy like pasta does in soup.

  6. Totally agree, sometimes occasionally I post healthy foods because they are popular or trending, but would I actually bring that food to a party or recommend to my friends, not always. Taste should always be first when it coms to good food! That mac looks awesome, too funny you made it with lasagna noodles.
    I will say though, that I actually really like farro and this salad looks good to me. But I don’t know about the cumin, usually I just put it in chili.

    1. We’re on the same mindset here. I’m guilty as well of posting healthy recipes for popularity reasons but wouldn’t give it to Nick or my friends. Taste is always, always number one now!

  7. sometimes recipes look way better than they taste! For me, a kale salad always looks so beautiful and nutritious but I just hate kale prepared any way. It’s true that you need to find healthy foods that you like!

    1. Agree! Just because it looks pretty does not mean it tastes good :) haha

  8. I so enjoyed reading this- I have too made several flops and there’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to eat it to avoid wasting the food. I must say, it was very creative to cut up lasagna noodles- I would have probably ordered sushi. Thanks!

    1. YUM sushi sounds amazing haha

  9. Love this! Staying true to you and your tastes is so important. I remember trying to gag down different foods because I thought I was supposed to like them since they were “healthy.” Turns out there are plenty of healthy foods I do like, so I choose to not suffer when eating anymore. :) I’m excited for your recipes this year!!

    1. Yes, I am choosing not to suffer anymore either. No more forcing myself to eat healthy things I know I don’t like!

  10. what a great topic to discuss and use as a lesson…i tend to stay away from super healthy/raw/yada yada dessert for the same reasons..i have tried a few and it doesnt taste like a real thing. thank you for your honest opinion because that salad does look wonderful…

    1. I too was tricked by the beauty of this salad haha. Don’t be fooled by good looks ;) haha!

  11. thanks so much for sharing! Love this! and your descriptions of this complicated recipe, I’d rather burn onions than cook everything separately

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