The Naturalist

The Fresh Yet Warming Recipe Courtney Levin is Loving for Spring

April 10, 2024
Photos by: Bliss Braoudakis

Self-care rituals can and should look different for everyone, but if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's the healing power of a nourishing meal. So, in the hopes of feeding our bodies and spirits this season, we reached out to holistic health coach Courtney Levin for a dish worth making on repeat. For all the details on her Warm Cauliflower and Lentil Salad—and her refreshing take on everyday wellness—read on.

How would you describe your usual approach to health and wellness? How does nutrition factor in?
My approach is gentle and realistic. Many things shifted for me in terms of the way I relate to health and wellness since I had my son 9 months ago. Between life and work, I’m not always able to get a workout in anymore. These days my non-negotiables are prioritizing rest, connecting with the people and things that matter to me and making sure I get outside as much as possible. I also love to feel nourished, nutrition is one of those pillars I don’t compromise on. I feel my best when my meals are balanced and I’m eating in a way that supports me on a cellular level. However, I will say I’ve been relying on ‘sweet treats’ and that second cup of caffeine way more this year, but I’m leaning into it! I’m meeting myself where I’m at and honoring what my body needs without judgment.
Can you walk us through this particular recipe? Any specific inspiration behind your ingredient choices?
Arugula and cauliflower are great detoxifiers and can aid with estrogen metabolism to balance your hormones. Lentils are little nutritional powerhouses and I always like to include avocado and nuts for healthy fat (plus, the hazelnuts add a nice crunch). For the dressing, coriander and cumin are good for digestion and contribute to the warming taste I crave. This salad is also a great base for a protein like chicken or salmon!
From season to season, how do your health priorities tend to shift?
This is most pronounced for me in terms of nutrition. I’m a big fan of incorporating warming, cooked, cozy foods into my rotation during the colder months and lighter, more energetic foods during the warmer months. Eating with the seasons helps me feel more aligned and when you start paying attention to your cravings, you’ll notice that your body naturally tends to skew this way.
What tips do you have for those who may have resolved to adopt a nutrition plan this year?
Set yourself up for success by planning ahead. Stock your fridge and pantry with foods that support your goals and aim to do a little prep each week so that you never get to that “I’m so hungry I could eat my couch right now” place. And please, be kind to yourself! So often I see people beating themselves up because they ate something they’ve labeled as “bad” and we need to reframe our thinking around this. When you start getting in touch with yourself and your body, you’re able to enjoy all foods without guilt.
What are a few of your favorite ways to simplify the practice of healthy, intentional eating?
Healthy eating gets complicated when you start comparing yourself. We’re bio-individuals, hence we want to find foods that we actually enjoy eating and contribute to us feeling our best. Meal prepping a few things each week to easily throw something together is also huge. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen every Sunday.
When you start getting in touch with yourself and your body, you’re able to enjoy all foods without guilt.
In terms of a holistic lifestyle, what habit—food related or otherwise—has been most impactful to you?
Meditation. Connecting with my breath, thinking about it like the tide going in and out grounds me. It’s helped a lot with my anxiety and settling my nervous system.
As a health coach, what’s one mindset shift or piece of advice you’d like to leave us with?
In order to get from A to B with anything you have to start small. Most of the time we do not move forward with our goals because we’re too overwhelmed by how we’re going to get to the result. Pick one little thing you can do every day to help you get to where you want to be and commit to it. Then build from there. Committing is often the hardest part!

First beauty memory: I have a distinct memory of wearing Stila Ice Blue Liquid Eyeshadow to middle school and my friend’s mom telling me I looked ridiculous.  

Three desert island skincare staples: Living Libations Rose Glow Moisturizer, Pipette Sunscreen, and Lip Balm (I make my own!). 

Best beauty lesson: I worked at CAP Beauty for a minute and was told by Marie Veronique to only wash my face with soap at night and just splash it with water in the mornings and that’s helped with dryness.

Most underrated beauty tip or tool: Good quality sleep!

You feel your most beautiful when: I’m having a good hair day (I’m a curly girl so this is always exciting).

Recipe you can’t stop cooking: Not really a recipe, but sheet pan meals. Throw some veggies and protein on a pan, put it in the oven and call it a day! 

Current song you’re playing on repeat: I’ve been going hard on Murder on the Dance Floor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor since seeing Saltburn.


Warm Cauliflower and Lentil Salad with Cumin and Coriander Dressing 

1 head cauliflower cut into bite-size florets
1/2 cup brown or green lentils
6-8 cups arugula
1 avocado sliced
1/2 tsp pink salt
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
Olive oil
Black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp ACV
1 1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp pink salt
1/4 tsp cumin


Serves 4. Set your oven to 400℉. Place the cauliflower on a parchment lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and a pinch of pepper. Toss everything together with your hands, making sure each piece is coated in oil. Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 20 minutes, stir, then roast for 10-15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, make your lentils. Bring 1 ½ cups of salted water to a boil. You can add a piece of kombu if you like for better digestion, just take it out when the lentils are done. Once the water is boiling, add the lentils and cook for 15 minutes (they’ll be al dente. If you like softer lentils, feel free to cook longer). Drain any water that hasn’t evaporated in a colander and set the lentils aside to cool.

Toast the hazelnuts. Set a frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the hazelnuts and toss every so often. They’re done when golden in some spots, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the skins (it’s easy when they’re warm). Then roughly chop. 

Make your dressing. In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together until emulsified.

To assemble, place the arugula in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower, 1/2 cup of lentils and dressing and toss to combine. Top with the avocado, toasted hazelnuts and salt and pepper to taste. This salad is great with salmon or shredded chicken if you’re wanting more protein.