Salad dressing is an area where homemade is usually far better than store bought. It is also so customizable and that allows your creativity and tastes to flourish. Plus, you can tweak the dressing to bring out the flavors of whatever is in your salad. I made a salad of romaine, green onions, a carrot, four or five celery sticks, a tomato and half of a large green pepper. I used probably half of a largish head of romaine. Cut the veggies in different shapes. I sliced the carrot on the diagonal and then in half to make half crescent moons (kind of ). Celery in rounds. Pepper in squares, tomato medium dice. The lettuce was strips. Toss the salad with dressing immediately before serving. Enjoy!
BALSAMIC MUSTARD VINAGRETTE
- 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 T. lemon juice
- 1/2 T. dijon mustard
- 1/2 T. mayo
- 1/2 T. honey
- 2/3 t. salt
- 1/3 t. black pepper
- 1/2 c. good quality olive oil
- 1/2 t. basil
I like some of the packaged salads for convenience- you rip open the bag, dump into a bowl, pour on the dressing and in two minutes lunch is ready. However, the variety of ingredients is not great and it is kind of expensive to pay that much for what in many cases is just chopped cabbage. So, I’ve switched to making our own and plan to pre-prep most of the ingredients in the future so I can just pick and choose. I’ve also taken to making almost all of our dressings. I put the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake at least 100 times. Shaking that much and using enough oil helps it to emulsify and really blend. It thickens a bit and I wind up using less. OK, here’s the winter salad mix:
- 1/4 medium head of cabbage, cleaned, cored and coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 5 romaine leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 large radishes, sliced
- 2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 hot pepper, seeded and sliced
- 2 pepperoncini peppers sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/4-1/3 cup roasted peanuts or almonds
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/3 cup safflower oil
- 1/4 cup almond oil
- 1 T. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
- 1 T. rice vinegar
- 2 T. chopped ginger root
Mix all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve into serving bowls. Mix dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously at least one hundred times so that the ingredients blend and thicken. Use to taste on the salad. If you don’t have everything, sub other ingredients. Snowpeas are a delicious addition. Enjoy!
I’m a pretty big supporter of Meatless Monday. Recently I was reading an article by Joel Fuhrman, MD. He seemed to advocate of diet of very nutrientious food in moderate portions as a means of weight control. I like to look at calories similarly to the way I look at space. There are places in my house that are very convenient and easy to reach. Those are the high-rent spaces and so I store items there that are worth taking up “high-rent” space. Similarly, since I’m trying to drop some pounds, really all the calories I consume should be “high-rent” calories: nutrient dense, healthy, and none of the empty calories. I was thinking about this at lunchtime and decided to cook farro along with some stir fried veggies for lunch. So, I did and it was delicious. Here’s how I made it:
For Farro Pilav:
- 1 c. farro, rinsed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 c. water
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2/3 c. chopped onion
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and saute onions in the oil for a minute or 2. Stir in the rinsed farro and saute another couple of minutes. Then stir in the water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover. Simmer on low heat,covered for about 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
- 1T. avocado oil
- 3-4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 3-4 inch lengths
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
- 1 1/2 cup cauliflower flowerets
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 T. hoisin sauce
- soy sauce to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 T. dry sherry or wine or water
In wok or skillet, heat avocado oil. When hot, stir in the onions, cauliflower flowerets, carrot and garlic slices. Cook, stirring occasionally about five minutes. Add the sauces and seasoning along with the sherry, wine, or water. Cover and cook covered about two minutes. Enjoy.
It is very tasty and quick. If you have adopted the vegetable saving method I discussed in an earlier post, it takes very little time to prepare. This would be easy to prepare ahead and take to work for an easy lunch. It is perfect for Meatless Monday. If I’d had mushrooms, I would have used them for a bit more protein.
Better late than never. Perhaps I am just a bit slow. Or distracted. But, recently, in my annual drop a few pounds in the first three months of the year program, it occurred to me that I needed to be eating celery and carrots as opposed to nuts. Nuts are healthy but not by the fistful. It also occurred to me that a salad would be better than a sandwich. Dutifully making my lunch salad one day, I realized how much I detest washing all of the salad ingredients prior to making a salad. I decided I would get all of the fresh vegetables out of my fridge, clean them, and put them in containers where all I would have to do is pull them out, cut up however I want, and voila! A salad or a snack.
I did some research and found that Rubbermaid has a new line of fresh food savers, designed especially for produce. They claim the food will stay fresh longer. We’ll see. I will report back on that in a future post. I bought some and have started using them, but not enough time has passed to tell if the containers are making a difference. If they do, I think I will save the purchase price of the set in not having to throw out fresh produce, which is not inexpensive.
Anyway, since doing this….I have done chopped onions for a while now, but now in addition I have carrots, celery, radishes, green onions, romaine, baby grape tomatoes, and cauliflower all ready in my fridge. It took no time at all to put together a salad. It is all done and really doesn’t take much time to do the whole bag of carrots or wash the whole bunch of celery. I’m very pleased with how much easier this is. And yesterday, I even ate celery instead of nuts when I needed a snack. Had I needed to clean and cut up the celery, I would have opted for nuts. Is a svelte Helen in the near future? Let’s hope so.
I have been making quite a bit of lentil soup lately. People I know have been sick or hospitalized and one of the things I can do is bring them soup. It can be frozen so it doesn’t force them to eat right away. Soup is easy to make and nutritious. But I have made three of four batches of lentil soup lately. I was craving soup for lunch yesterday. I normally would just make a double batch of whatever the soup was that I was taking to a friend, but this time I wanted something different!
I try to limit the times I go to a grocery store in a given week, so I was determined to make do with whatever I had on hand. So I made a creamy tomato soup. It was so delicious and here’s how I did it.
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 generous tablespoon chicken soup base
- 3 cups of water
- 1/2 cup cream (could substitute water)
- 1/2 tsp. crushed hot pepper
- 1 generous spoonful of dried basil (if you have the fresh, add to taste)
- salt as needed
- 1-2 T. oil
- 1 smallish onion, diced
- 3 T. orzo
Heat the oil in a stockpot. Throw in the onion and saute lightly for about five minutes. Add in the tomatoes, the soup base, the water, the orzo and the spices. Stir well and let simmer 10 minutes or so. Turn off or leave on very, very low heat. Add a few spoonfuls of the soup mixture to the cream, and stir well. Then add to the soup. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Make sure it is heated through and serve. Delish!!!!!
It is so easy to quickly make a delicious colorful salad with fall veggies. You don’t even miss the tomatoes and cukes if the garden has given up its last. If you are fortunate enough to have a fall garden and have lettuce, spinach and kale, you are good to go. I like to use a few leaves of lettuce, a few of spinach and then whatever else I happen to have. I really like to buy mixes of salad leaves that I wouldn’t necessarily grow…like mustard and kale and mesclun, although they are pretty easy to grow. I need to force myself to go out and plant when the weather is miserably hot, in August. But that doesn’t always happen. I like to add pumpkin seeds, red peppers, beets (pickled or roasted), red or green onion, a carrot, peeled and sliced. Tossing a few nuts on top (walnuts, peanuts, or almonds are my favorites) and top it off with a good sized scoop of low fat cottage cheese and my favorite dressing of the week. I need to start growing sprouts again….those are delicious in salads like this.. Sometimes I will slice up some turkey or throw in a small can of tuna. This is a salad that “sticks to your ribs” but also does not weigh you down. Enjoy…
Most people cook spinach far too long and it becomes mushy. And that’s a texture that not too many people like, unless it is soft-serve ice cream. Mushy vegetables, not so much. This is a recipe that most people have seen, but I think most people still cook it too long. I like to take one medium sized package of pre-washed spinach. In a pan with a lid, large enough to hold the entire package, heat up one tablespoon of oil. When sizzling, throw in 1-2 cloves crushed garlic and stir around for about 15 seconds. Throw in the entire bag of spinach and cover the pan with the lid. After about 2 minutes, check and if it so dry that the spinach is sticking to the pan, toss in a little bit of water, broth, or wine – at most 1/8 cup. Throw in a little soy sauce or salt, as well as a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper. Replace the lid. Turn off the heat, check and stir. Serve. This makes two generous servings that are so yummy!!!