Tag Archives: Salad

Making Friends out of Former Enemies

 

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Have you ever hated a certain food only to find you like it later? That’s been my case with things like mushrooms, raw tomatoes, and red wine.

I really feel that in order to say you don’t like something, you must try it in a variety of different preparations and flavor combinations before making a judgment. This has led me to conclusions that I just don’t like raw broccoli, but I loved it steamed, roasted or grilled! I love fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter, but not served out of a can. I like cucumber in gazpacho, but not chopped up in a salad or in tabbouleh. Or celery diced fine and stewed slowly in soup or dressing, but never, ever served raw!

Which leads me to this recipe I found in my most recent issue of Z-Life (a magazine I receive as a member of the Zumba Instructor Network).

Beet and Apple Salad.

First, I will share with you my first former enemy.

Beets.

Omg.

I have tried so many times to love beets. But every time it just tastes like I’m eating dirt. Red beets, golden beets, roasted, pickled (ew), doesn’t matter. Dirt.

But every time I prepare them I find I sort of like them even more. I can’t say that I love them, but they have found a place in my life. I will continue to prepare them in different ways and find, every time, that I like them a little more. This recipe is one of those that makes me like beets even more. Perhaps one day I’ll be a beet-a-holic?! That will be the day I make borscht.

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Beet and Apple Salad with Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette
Adapted from Z-Life
Serves 2-4

3 small beets (I used golden)
Oregano
1 apple (I used fuji. Ignore the fact that there are two apples in the pic. Unless you want more apple—then go for it!)
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

 

First, peel the beets. I used a paring knife, and because I used golden beet instead of red, I didn’t look like a murder victim from CSI. But if red suits you, go for it.

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Then, slice the beets into half-moon slices. Wrap up in parchment paper (I used this method) with a sprinkle of oregano and roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender (I just shove a toothpick through the parchment and gauge the texture from there).

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Very quickly dump the beets into a bowl of water and ice and leave there for about 30 seconds. Some people call this “shocking” and it’s typically used to halt cooking and preventing green things from turning brown. I did it because I wanted my beets chilled when I mixed them with the apples. If you want warm beets with cool apples, omit this “shocking” step (hurr hurr).

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Slice apple into thin half-moon-ish slices. I use this manner of slicing.

Mix beets with apples. Then gently mix in the pistachios and the dressing. Serve and enjoy!

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This brings us to the second previously-hated item.

Mustard.

I have for many years proclaimed my disdain for mustard. My friends and I even have a year-long joke currently running where they will hide small packets of mustard in our house after we made the proclamation last year that we “are not a mustard family.” My disfavor came from the awful stench of mustard and the radioactive yellow shade of the French’s style I was exposed to growing up. However, to be frank, I’d never actually eaten it. But lately as I was reading over the ingredients on the bottle of my favorite store-bought dressing (Brianna’s Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette), I realized that what made this dressing “creamy” and gave it a certain depth of flavor that couldn’t be found in regular oil + vinegar concoctions was the mustard. After doing much soul-searching, I bought a small bottle of Grey Poupon and vowed to start with baby steps. And that first baby step, this dressing, is a major success!

Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I used World Market brand, which amazingly tastes exactly like a real root of ginger! Not many powdered varieties capture that sweet-spicy-citrusy taste)
salt + pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small jar or bowl and whisk well.

 

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Are there any foods you hated growing up that you now love?

The Care and Feeding of Husbands

I’m still sick.

Ugghhhh.

I slept until about noon, at which point Edgar pumped me with pharmaceuticals before he headed out to run some errands.

He’s been on a roll lately! Yesterday he fixed our dishwasher, and today he fixed the shocks on his truck and installed our new water heater! I did eventually have to get up to make him lunch and pack him his dinner, since he was busy doing his man thang.

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Buh-bye 16-year-old, calcium-loaded, grimy water heater!

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Hello, you pretty, new thing!

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Edgar works 3-11:30pm every day except Sunday. It stinks. It means I never get to see him and we rarely get to eat dinner together, so he packs his dinner to go. Normally he eats leftovers, but sometimes he doesn’t know what to put together, so he picks up something greasy from the Hispanic grocery store on his dinner break. I’ll admit I tend to forget to shop for his dinners/lunches when I go grocery shopping, but this week I made a point of putting together meal ideas for him and purchasing some things I know he likes. He’s been wanting non-sandwich, BIG, healthy meals, so I packed him a huge salad (he loves salads!), an orange, some marinated olives (yuck. He loves ‘em though), and some Kashi crackers. I also put together a quick vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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His salad had:

  • romaine
  • spinach
  • mushrooms
  • broccoli
  • mini bell peppers
  • tomatoes
  • the last of our roasted chicken
  • hard boiled egg

 

I’m honestly not totally sure what I’m going to have for dinner. All of my dinner ideas will require me to either defrost some meat or soak some beans. I think I’ll go for the defrosting.

 

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30 Day Challenge
Day 8—A moment you felt most satisfied with your life

 

There have been many times I have felt “most satisfied” with my life, and one that comes to mind is when I wrote the post about how much I appreciated my friends. And the reason for this is that I could easily see how my decisions led me to where I was at that time, and I could see God’s hand in all of it. I can’t say that I feel any different, now. No, I have no idea what’s ahead of me, and I have goals that I’m always trying to achieve, but that isn’t keeping me from enjoying the journey, where I am right now. Smile

Out of Season

It is late-February and I’m already in the mood for fall.

Actually, being in the mood for fall is something that happens to me approximately 10-11 months out of the year.

With the weather becoming more temperate with the approach of spring, I can imagine the fall season more easily, but I have to pretend not to notice that there are no orange leaves scattered about or that the apple tree in our backyard is 100% bare.

But of course, nothing keeps me from eating fall-seasoned food year-round! (Well, with the possible exception of another canned pumpkin shortage, but I’m still to this day hoarding cans in my pantry to get me through the summer!) I pulled out two oldies-but-goodies (plus a newie?)for dinner and curled up in my sweats on the couch to watch Casper, because, well…a girl’s got to cope with her weird moods somehow.

 

 

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Tuscan Pumpkin-White Bean Soup.

I’ve showcased this recipe before her e on the blog. It’s a Weight Watchers recipe I fell in love with about a year ago. It’s so quick and easy that I don’t even bother looking at the recipe anymore, and the ingredients are things you could easily have on hand already. So good, and the heat feels so good on my sore throat!

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Harvest Salad.

Another recipe I’ve pulled up twice already on the blog. I skipped the squash, even though I do have some, because I was already heavy-dosing on the vitamin A with the soup. Also, the ingredients are mostly based on whatever I had on hand. No artisan blend greens? I used arugula. No pepitas? I used pistachios. No blue cheese? I used goat cheese. I did have apples, though, so that remained the same.

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No Knead Bread.

Now this is a recipe I haven’t discussed here on the blog. Even though I was getting plenty of carbohydrates from the beans, I couldn’t shake the idea of a chunk of fresh, whole grain bread served alongside to round out my harvest-time daydream. I used the recipe from the NY Times as a starting point, but I used all whole wheat flour, plus added 4 tsp of vital wheat gluten to make sure it rose better. And instead of cornmeal on the outside, I used oat bran! It turned out WONDERFUL!

 

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What’s your favorite season?

Bacon and Avocado go together like Peanut Butter and Banana. Plus! The Question of Alcohol

 

Speaking of bacon…

It makes the perfect salad.

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I’ve said before that I’m not big on salad, but just like I prefer nutty/fruity/cheesy salads, I LOVE avocado-y/bacon-y salads!

This baby had romaine, spinach, a boiled egg, BACON, avocado, some bits of deli turkey, parmesan, and some pomegranate arils for a sweet crunch.

I guess some would call this something of a cobb salad. Or a turkey club sandwich. I call it an awesome lunch. Fo shizz.

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30 Day Challenge
Day 3: What are your views on drugs and alcohol?

Hmm, well this being a healthy living-oriented blog, I would imagine my response to drugs would be pretty cut-and-dry. Obviously anything illegal I’d consider a no-no on many levels.

I also try to limit any other pharmaceuticals. It’s not that I have a moral issue with them, but I don’t think they should be the primary fix for a problem. I’d rather address health issues by natural means than pop a pill. Plus, (and I’ve heard rumors that it’s because I’m a redhead) I build resistance to medications VERY quickly. If I take ibuprofen three times in one week, by the third time, it doesn’t really work anymore. And acetaminophen and asprin have never really worked on me. I like to look at pharmaceuticals as “last resorts” or “supplements” when natural means (nutrition, rest, etc.) aren’t enough.

When it comes to alcohol, I see things a little differently.

I grew up in a family that didn’t drink ever. And that’s alright. I never felt the urge to drink growing up. I don’t believe that drinking is a sin, but drinking can be a habit that spirals out of control quite easily. It can be controlling without really taking on the title of an “addiction.” Just like I easily go overboard with sugar and “dry carbs,” someone else can go overboard on occasion with alcohol. Or just like someone who eats emotionally, one can drink to drown their sorrows. Neither of which I recommend.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book called, The Screwtape Letters, which is entirely written in the form of one “head demon” (Screwtape) writing letters to a lesser demon (Wormwood) as to how he can successfully derail a particular man away from God. When I first read the book, this particular passage struck me as uniquely profound, and I still refer to it when explaining my stance on the use of alcohol:

“You are much more likely to make your man a sound drunkard by pressing drink on him as an anodyne when he is dull and weary than by encouraging him to use it as a means of merriment among his friends when he is happy and expansive. Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on [God]’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it was His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable.”

I had my first “drink” while visiting an Episcopal church while in college. They held communion every Sunday and always used real wine.

I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to “swig” wine, and my throat burned for quite a while.

Besides that time, when I first started getting interested in cooking I decided to start experimenting with cooking wine. Yes, the vile, sodium-laden abomination toward grapes. But hey, we start somewhere, right? I didn’t care to drink before the age of 21, and when I did turn 21, I make it my personal mission NOT to go drinking to celebrate my birthday, simply because I think that’s overrated and cliché. I did have my first “real” drink about 2 weeks before my 21st birthday while hosting a fancy roast beef Sunday dinner with my roommate. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon to braise the meat, and we also served it with dinner. I could barely drink it. I forced down four tiny sips and gave the rest to Edgar! The roast was amazing, though. 😉

Since then I’ve had and enjoyed various different types of wines and tasted a few weird beers (pumpkin ale, anyone?) more out of culinary curiosity. I have developed a bit of a taste toward some wines, but I usually can’t finish a whole 6 oz glass, and that’s perfectly alright with me. I think I prefer cooking with it, but I do enjoy it occasionally as a drink when the mood strikes, which happens maybe once a month. And in the spirit of my C.S. Lewis quote, it’s only when I’m enjoying relaxed merriment with a very small group of very close friends or in the comfort of a cozy evening with Edgar. If anything, having to sip a drink slowly helps me slooooow dooooown and enjoy the moment instead of being a spastic hostess. Hah!

 

Did you grow up in a house where alcohol was tolerated? Encouraged? Discouraged?

Inching Closer

First things first.

Wendie Plan? Not so much for me. Basically eating up the majority of my weekly points the first part of the week has never worked for me, because I can’t live off the very little of the remainder during the second half of the week. So after a week of eating and counting tons the first half of the week and “intuitively eating” for the second half (because there wasn’t enough points left to really sustain me, so I decided to just listen to my body’s signals and feed it nutritious food when I got hungry), I gave up on that idea. However, the next week (last week) wasn’t much different because I had special events (and an out-of-the-bleu blue, trance-induced frying episode) the first half of the week and practically nothing leftover for Sunday and Monday.

But that’s a-okay, because…

I lost 1.4 lbs this week and now find myself in the 130’s!! I’m just OUNCES away from my Weight Watchers goal!! It’s pretty exciting!

Okay, I have some goals this week. First of all, I am going to experiment with photographing everything I eat and posting them on here every day. A day in the “life of [michelle’s] pi[e-hole]” if you will. I want to get more involved in my blog and share more about my daily eating habits, but I’m not sure how much time it’s going to consume since I’m already a full-time office worker and a full-time wife. But we’ll certainly see!

Starting….. NOW!

Breakfast was fantastic! I always look forward to reaching the bottom scrapings of my nut butter jars so I can do THIS!

Overnight Oats in a Jar!

In this mix…

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use Oikos)
  • 1/3 cup 1% milk
  • 1 average (4 oz) banana, chopped up
  • ~2 tsp of Dark Chocolate Dreams scrapings
  • ~1 tsp of some almond granola stuff I’ve had in my pantry for ages. The stuff expired years ago, but it’s apparently still good!

And with a side glass of no-sugar-added cranberry juice blend. I don’t typically drink juice, and certainly not cranberry juice, but I’ve heard that it helps… well… certain discomforts. And we’ll leave it at that. This a food blog and I’m eating!

I packed some dates for my morning snack.


I knew better. I knew that it’d do nothing for mid-morning hunger. But did I listen? Noooo. By 11:00 I was STARVING.

So I was all about volume come lunchtime.

Ain’t it pretty?!?

  • A bunch of romaine and arugula as a base
  • 1 oz of bell pepper
  • 1 oz of avocado, sliced
  • 1 slice uncured bacon, crumbled
  • 1 medium-boiled egg
  • a grating of parmesan
  • drizzling of lime juice

And the mini-sandwich was a slice of Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium bread with some fig preserves and 1/2 oz of Organic Valley Extra Sharp Raw Cheddar. Yum!

And two glasses of cranberry juice….

I finally got something right with my afternoon snack.

I’ve been on the search for a good all-natural pudding cup. This one is all-natural and has a bunch of good stats, but the texture is more gelatinous than creamy. And frankly, Jello Sugar Free Dark Chocolate scores much better in the “chocolate-y decadence” flavor category. So the search continues…

(Oh, and insert 6 oz of Dr Pepper in here, because I poured myself a small cup at work, but obviously didn’t photograph it. Oops!)

After Zumba I wasn’t all that hungry, but when I finally did eat, it was leftover Chicken Tortilla Soup from several nights ago. Topped it with some sliced up asadero cheese and a few tortilla strips I fried up last Wednesday.

I’m not going to share the recipe for it yet because, while it was good, it could really be improved upon. I’ll share the recipe when I tweak it a bit. 🙂

So there you have it! Day one of my one-week food-journal-blogging challenge. Stay tuned for more interesting eats!

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