Food and Meaning

How to nourish yourself on all levels

Marilyn Tam
Dec 17, 2019 · 4 min read
Setting up one of two large serving bowls of Turmeric Quinoa Holiday Salad for the party. Good thing they loved it! I made a lot….

For all but four of the last 25 years, I’ve participated in my friend’s Holiday Sing parties. She invites her closest 80–200 friends to come together to share food, drink, and most of all, songs.

Food feeds our bodies, our emotions and our spirit. Especially during the holiday season, memories of what we ate during happy times nudge us to look for whole chestnuts, marshmallows, Jell-O or other foods that otherwise we would not consider eating. How do I nourish all three aspects of body, mind and spirit with just a simple dish for the party? Our group have lost loved ones, homes and more this year, I want to contribute in some small way to healing and happiness.

Turmeric! I’ll make something with turmeric in it. Turmeric reportedly has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities and also helps improve symptoms of depression. Being one of the vegetarians/vegans, I try to bring a dish that everyone would like and that would also sustain the ones who opt not to consume animal products. With turmeric, the dish will be tasty and perhaps soothe tangled feelings too. Something nutritious, hmm. Quinoa. High protein, easy to digest and pairs well with turmeric. With the two main ingredients decided, I scoped out the farmers’ market for the fresh vegetables that would complete the dish. I came up with Turmeric Quinoa Holiday Salad — it’s red and green, festive colors too.

If you are feeling like you need a bit of nourishment during this hectic and demanding holiday season, make this Turmeric Quinoa Holiday Salad. Invite your friends, colleagues and/or family to share it. Or take the food to a homeless shelter, community center, office party or organize a holiday sing! Ask your neighbors, co-workers, friends and family to gather to share potluck, drinks and lots of songs. You’ll feel better, more nourished and they will too!

During this tender season, be kind to yourself and everyone you connect with. We can all use some extra nourishment right about now. Please share the blog with others so more are fed with goodness on all levels. Happiness, peace and love to you and your loved ones. Recipe below:

As always, please know that your creativity and flexibility is what makes cooking and food fun.

Please adjust the ingredients to suit your taste and availability of produce. Happy Holidays.

Food to nourish body, mind and spirit.

Turmeric Quinoa Holiday Salad

Serving for 4–6 (I multiplied the recipe in my presentation)


1 cup curly endive chopped 1” wide pieces

1 cup romaine lettuce chopped 1” wide pieces

1 cup celery stalks and leaves chopped ½” pieces

1 cup carrots chopped in ½” pieces

1 fresh fennel bulb (fresh anise) including the fronds, approximately 1 ½ cups in ½” pieces

1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes

1 avocado, cubed in ½” pieces

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinse well if not pre-rinsed by manufacturer

1 medium onion — diced

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon turmeric powder

½ cup coconut cream/milk — optional

1 ½ tablespoon virgin coconut oil

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup Apple cider vinegar

Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt

Black Pepper

Pinch of red chili pepper to taste — optional

Cholula hot sauce or other mild hot sauce

Coconut aminos — optional

1 ½ cups water — if using coconut cream/milk, decrease water to 1 cup


1. Brown onion in a saucepan with the coconut oil.

2. Add quinoa and turn to coat and roast.

3. Stir turmeric in and allow to brown lightly.

4. Add water and coconut cream/milk — watch for splatter, the pan is hot.

5. Bring to a boil.

6. Add ½ cup each of fennel and celery, stir and bring to a boil again.

7. Add salt, black and chili peppers to taste, stir.

8. Turn down heat, to very low, put the lid on and let cook till dry, about 15 minutes.

9. Place all vegetables in a large serving bowl.

10. Scoop cooked quinoa on top.

11. Scatter pumpkin seeds over the top.

12. Fold in dressing and serve.

13. Enjoy!


1. Put the apple cider vinegar in a cup.

2. Add the olive oil.

3. Add fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.

4. Shake in a bit of Cholula hot sauce to taste

5. Add a few shakes of coconut aminos if available.

6. Stir and taste again. Adjust the vinegar/oil balance if needed.

Marilyn Tam

Written by

Marilyn Tam, global speaker, best selling author (The Happiness Choice), business leader and humanitarian. Formerly the CEO of Aveda, President Reebok, VP Nike

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