Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There is a whole world out there! (amazing salads)

Escarole and mixed green salad with olives, sunflower seeds, carrot, avocado, kidney beans, and (leftover) mahi mahi.

My focus (for a while now) has been all things green. I actually can't seem to get away from it, the dishes are endless! Although I am going to try to shift my focus as not to bore anyone, but before I do...

There is a whole world of salads out there! I always feel so sad when I ask people if they like salad and they answer, "um, yeah I guess. but it never fills me up." I think part of that answer is stemmed from an innate fear that me, their health counselor, is about to put them on a diet and suggest salads for lunch and dinner. Then I ask what people like on their salad. I am surprised by the amount of people that answer, lettuce or spinach, cucumbers, tomato, maybe some carrot, maybe some onion and chicken. Some people put dried cranberries (or "craisins") but that is pretty much the extent of it. There is a salad world out there and I want to wake people up to it!!

Salad World Welcoming Gate (it is a welcoming place):
Step 1: Every time you go to the market buy yourself a new type of nut, seed, or dried fruit. This collection will grow and not only will you have a beautiful collection of healthy snacks (easy trail mix) but also a great salad topper collection.
Step 2: Buy Organic mixed greens or baby spinach that are washed and dried for you. Easy to grab a handful. Stay away from the salad mixes that are full of ice berg or romaine with a few colored lettuces thrown in, they are glorified heads of ice berg, no nutritional value, no flavor, and overpriced (alot of times they have been sitting there forever and the leaves are a dull lite green)
Step 3: Have a nice collection of dressings. And by nice, I mean dressings that you may pay a little more for, but are made with real olive oil, vinegars and spices. Read the ingredients and avoid dressings made with canola oil, "fat free", sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or preservatives.
Step 4: In the fridge keep any or all of the following: kalamata olives, goat cheese, hummus, Parmesan, pesto, or sprouts (explore the world of sprouting your own at my friend Ali's blog easy and so rewarding).
Step 5: If you like avocados, always have avocados (they make anything better). Avocados have lipase in them which is a natural fat dissolvent. So you are cutting the fat of the avocado and then some, and getting a healthy fat which your body and brain needs.
Step 6: Canned wild salmon is delicious on salads, cheaper than any other form of wild salmon and it is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (farm salmon is not).
Step 7: Canned beans, a great protein and filler minus the saturated fat of chicken (despite common belief chicken has only 3% less saturated fat than red meat), remember to rinse the beans well, then store them in the fridge in water.
Step 8: Now, combine any or all of the above ingredients for a delicious, filling, really tasty and satisfying meal. Really, I'm telling you, no combination will let you down.
Have wraps on hand and you can turn any salad into a wrap. This one is topped with a garden burger.

Simple salads. Apple cider vinegarette, strawberries, and sunflower seeds. Even really beautiful salad greens drizzled with only a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil and shaved parmesan (not shown here) taste amazing.
For more great salad ideas check out my friend Hannah's blog. Beautiful food and pictures.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Green Bean Demons (warm green bean salad)

A Pre-dressed grean bean salad.

A happy Easter was had by all. It was a sunny spring day, yet cooold. We had a nice dinner with Chop's family and then went for a blustery walk on the beach. Chopper and his brother Jeremy, got to bond, speaking their secret language (not literally) and beach combing, which they both love to do. Chop made an announcement that the first person to find a "seaglassed" marble would get a big hug and kiss (he later told me that this was a strategy to get the women to slow down and beach comb as well). His brother found the first marble, and then another one. He only got one big hug though (I think Chop may have had a little marble envy).

Chop and I are both very lucky as we get fed lots of good food from both sides of our families. So often when people start to make changes in their diet they worry about how this will effect family gatherings, dining out, or whether or not they'll be able to eat and enjoy the foods they've always loved. I know when I go to my Italian side of my family gatherings, I get asked about a million times "whata ya gonna eat honey? whatta ya gonna eat?" because most of the dishes have meat in them. I have no problem filling up on Italian bread and salad, I really enjoy it actually, it is made with lots of love, the lettuce is drenched in Italian dressing and tossed with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cheese, olives, and pepperoncinis, Yum. So what's my point here? I guess that at times sacrifices are made, I don't get to enjoy the Italian soup, lasagna, or ham, but at Natalie's house or my mom's house we get to enjoy all of it!

The menu on sunday consisted of a beautiful salad from fresh farmer's market greens, a warm green bean salad with walnuts and red onion in a mustard vinegarette (Kristen, Jeremy's wife made it) and a vegetable lasagna which was made from many farmer's market finds, including Rhode Island made riccotta cheese. As I was eating I was wishing I had my camera, to capture all the food I was looking forward to writing about. The walk was followed by the "very citrus-y" rice pudding, we had bought blackberry ice cream to go with it, and I have to say it complimented it very well.

So last night, I still had the green bean dish on my mind and decided to recreate it. One of the top causes of cravings, which I discuss and deconstruct with my clients, is "the inside coming out". This means, something which you've had recently you will alot of time crave again. I always use the example...I can go weeks without having pizza, but then I'll have pizza on a Friday and want it again on Monday. So being able to recognize why this craving is popping up (as apposed to getting into a cycle where I then need to eat pizza every 3 days or so) allows for me to more easily dismiss it. However, when what you are craving is green bean salad I say by all means, give in to those green bean demons.

Warm Green Bean Salad:

1/3 cup olive oil
just a splash less than a 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbl. grain mustard
3 Tbl. honey
2/3 cup of walnuts (pecans would probably be good as well)
3-4 cups of green beans (I used frozen)
1/4 red onion diced
2 Tbl. dice parsley

In toaster-toast waluts (you don't have to, but I love the flavor this brings out), then chop.

In blender (or food processor)- olive oil, red wine vinegar, grain mustard, honey, toss in about a 1/4 of your toasted walnuts and blend(these measurements are estimates, if you find it is too vinegary, add a little more olive oil, or too pungent, add a little more honey)

Frozen green beans- In the summer we love fresh, but this time of year frozen taste best. I get these great french green beans from Trader Joes, they are really tasty.

Saute the green beans and sprinkled them with a dash of sea salt and garlic powder (my staple move). Once warmed through, toss with chopped walnuts, parsley, red onion, and enough dressing to coat all the beans (this recipe makes extra dressing, so don't use it all...too much)

I love my toasted nuts. I highly suggest doing this often, for salads, oatmeal, cereals, or just to snack on. I just hit toast once on a normal "toast" setting.

Before we left for the weekend i had just chopped up all my parsley and put it in the freezer. This is a Martha Stewart trick, chop and freeze herbs in an ice cube tray. So I threw in one cube with the green beans as they sauteed.

Chopped walnuts and onions.