Yay! Salad Days Are Back.


In Canada, as in many parts of the world, we have been staying home- a lot- and repeating the same activities every day, so we sometimes even forget the day of the week. I am now working from home and my days usually start about sunrise when I head out for a few hours of walking with my dog, before too many other people are out and it becomes hard to keep distances. Then I head back home to start my work prep while listening to the Prime Minister’s daily update. Someone joked the other day that the only way they know that time is even passing is by watching the updates and seeing how Justin Trudeau’s hair is growing shaggier and shaggier each day.

It made me laugh, but I have another secret way to keep track of how time is passing and be reminded that there are some lovely things we can still look forward to. For one thing, every day this week on my walks I have spotted new flowers in bloom, and for me this also marks the start of “salad every day” season (maybe several times a day!)

White fawn lily

So I am going to celebrate on here by reviving a very old post, with a few new tricks I’ve developed over the years. Because you’d better believe that it has to be an extraordinary salad if a food addict like me is going to look forward to eating it every single day for half the year at least. Check it out below and see if you agree that, indeed, my five step “Super Duper Addictive FITR Salad” is one that you could chomp on every day:

Step 1. (80-100 calories): Start with at least 3-4 cups of greens. Just grab handfuls and throw them into a very large bowl. Lettuce is fine, but so are dandelion greens, spinach, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, field greens, radicchio, anything you find (use iceberg lettuce rarely- it is the least nutritious salad green and it tastes weak, too).

Step 2. (50ish calories): Add in a cup or more of any other veggies you have on hand- celery, tomatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, peas, etc. Fresh is good, but frozen is fine too, and so is cooked. As you know, I often start my weekly food prep by roasting a few trays of veggies. Those roasted veggies are delightful in a FITR salad. Keto eaters can roast them in lots of good fats.

Fill that bowl- if you want to maintain your healthy weight, you need to enjoy your lifestyle, and that includes eating lots of good food. Finely chopped gives a different mouth-feel than chunks- go for the feel you want each day, switch it up. And try new veggies sometimes, too.

Step 3. (100 calories): Add some dense protein. These help you to feel satisfied- they give the “comfort” element to the salad and help you feel full longer. A few ideas:
-1/2 cup of: tofu (prepared any way*), beans (kidney or black beans are faves of mine), couscous, quinoa, or brown rice
-1/3 cup chickpeas
-chopped up veggie burger, tofurkey, or other processed vegetarian “meat” (less healthy option)
-for non-vegans, ½ cup of chopped meat, fish, or any style egg (less healthy option)

Step 4 (100 calories): Add some foods with healthy fats. These keep you full longer and provide a more satisfying “mouth feel” that we crave. Some ideas:
-2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, peanuts, etc)
-1/2 small avocado, or ¼ cup guacamole
-15 to 20 black olives (that’s a lot-yum!)
-1/4 cup daiya or other vegan shredded cheese
-for non-vegans, 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, ½ cup cottage cheese, 1/8 cup sour cream (less healthy options)
-PLUS 1 to 2 tablespoons of storebought dressing (less healthy option), or a much larger amount (and much tastier) homemade dressing*.

Step 5 (100-120 calories): Bonus items. This is the zing that turns the salad into a luxury. Anything goes here- it is your “flex” calories. You might choose your items based on:
Theme/taste. eg:
-Make it a taco salad with greens, leftover veggie chili, beans, salsa, jalapenos, sour cream, and the bonus: 10-12 broken tortilla chips as a garnish.
-Or, for a sweet theme, use vegan “goat cheese” and poppy seeds with balsamic vinegar dressing, and bonus blueberries.
-Make an oriental salad with sesame seeds, snap peas, leftover chik’n and bonus interest: canned mandarin oranges and raisins.
Color eg:
-If your salad looks mostly green and white, add 100 calories of yellow, red, and purple to increase appeal. Try: edible flowers, micro red amaranth, peppers, mini pattypan squash, apricots, seaweed, purple potatoes, grapes, strawberries, goji berries, dried cranberries (beware of added sugar), pomegranate seeds, watermelon, black olives, edamame, red onion, chopped peaches, etc.
Carb-y Treats eg:
-1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat pasta, brown rice (or fried cauliflower rice for keto eaters), orza or any type of noodles, etc.
Any other criteria (what you have on hand, what you crave, etc.) eg:
-Pickle slices, croutons, a tablespoon or two of thick dips or sauces (sweet ones like plum sauce, or complex tastes like jalapeno mango jelly), apple slices, 1/2 cup chow mein noodles, deli salads, or for non-vegans, a slice or two of meats. Anything!

Now- Celebrate the lunch and enjoy every bite! Keep crispy items in a separate container and assemble in the big bowl at lunch time. (Tip- You can also add more eye and mouth appeal by changing textures- shredding carrots or spiralizing beets, or adding your leftovers heated up instead of cold). With such a huge and beautiful lunch, I guarantee that your lunchmates will be envious. First they will tell you how delicious it looks, then they will wonder how you can eat so much and still lose weight/stay so skinny, then your lunch will become a topic of conversation as everyone checks it out each day. They may even start a fan club and you will have to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Just be sure to wipe your face first.

* Check out other recipes in the blog for ideas for starred items.

(salad art by Jo- inspired by enslavedbyfaeries at squidoo.com)

I have a few yummy salad and new dressing ideas to share coming up soon.

Eat well and take care,

Love Jo

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