The New Year is here. We are a few days into it.
It is always the perfect time to eat clean, healthy, yummy meals, but this time of year we feel an extra tug to put ourselves on the right track. We are laying the ground work for a mindful year ahead. We strive to find order in our lives and we have a clean canvas to work with. Together we take a look back at where we were in 2009 as we look towards where we want to go in 2010. This is a great time for us to find and maintain balance in our daily meals.
Each day I usually have at least one fresh salad. I love my veggies cooked, I love ’em raw and I like warm and cool ones mixed together. Give me a rainbow of tastes and flavors and you got one happy, healthy Marla. When we eat vegetables in varied colors of the spectrum we take in numerous vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals unique to each veggie. Picture a salad with varied shades of greens, reds, orange, yellow, mushroom greys and everything in between. Thats what we want in our balanced salad. Homogeny, no. Vibrancy, yes!!
Just visualize when the world of Oz shifts from black and white to full color. OK, now we are all on the same page!
In my last two posts I wrote about Travel Essentials and New Years Resolutions. No matter where we are on the globe and no matter what time of year it is a salad can be part of our daily meal plan. Whether we are home, at a restaurant or traveling we can gather the ingredients to create a salad. Perhaps you are in college, there are opportunities to make a balanced salad in the dining hall. I remember my days at Syracuse University filling my plate sky high with a tower of salad. (We won’t discuss all the not so clean college food that I had alongside it. Hey, that was then, this is now!)
You could incorporate regional spices, cheeses, lean proteins, whole grains, dressings and locally grown produce to create a wonderful balanced meal without feeling deprived. Just be mindful of portion sizes. Remember that a salad can quickly become an overindulgence if we add way too much fat, protein and dressing. A few ounces of protein is sufficient and a few tablespoons of healthy fats will keep you satisfied until the next healthy Mini Meal!
It’s all in how you slice it!
Play with your slicing and dicing techniques. Are you gonna go with slivers, slices, wedges or dices. Shredded or julienned?? There are so many possibilities. Do you want to cut into your salad with a knife and fork or do you want a chopped salad that has each flavor in every bite? The choice is yours.
I suggest you vary it up to keep things interesting. The style and method of how you prepare your veggies and other ingredients will give you a unique twist to your daily salad.
For the kids:
The kids might be takers on a salad. Just let them have some control over their pickin’s. Let them tell you what they want in their salad, how they want their veggies cut, what kind of dressing and cheese etc. My six year old likes Baby Spinach leaves with Parmesan and Balsamic Vinaigrette. My three year old son likes to dip lettuce and steamed green beans in hummus. We call it all a salad! It’s all good!
Add some heat! Here is another way to play with your salad to create a lively plate of healthy satisfaction.
Do you like your veggies crunchy? Softened & steamed? Warm and slightly wilted? How about crunchy greens and chopped sprouts with some sliced warm veggies on top. Or vice versa, crispy chopped veggies on a warm bed of Spinach and Beets? Adding a bit of heat to portions of your salad will not only give a nice texture play, the warm/cool thing is a nice surprise element as well.
Go green! Plate up a bed of crisp leafy green veggies. Have some crunchy Romaine lettuce, Satiny Baby Spinach Leaves, Elegant Red Leaf Lettuce, Tender Micro Greens or Silky Maché.
Top your greens with: Sprouts, Broccoli Slaw, finely sliced Red or Green Cabbage, Carrots, any color Bell Pepper, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Onion, Squash, chunks of Pumpkin, Roasted Beets or Squash. Try your veggies steamed, stir fried, grilled or roasted. Anything goes…..just eat your veggies!
Always remember to choose a rainbow of flavors to get a varied palette of nutrients.
Top your salad with a lean meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetarian protein source. From lean Sirloin, to Chicken Breast, Scallops, Salmon (any fish filet,) Shrimp, Lean Chicken or Turkey Sausage, Ham, Turkey, Tofu, Tempeh or Eggs. Choose what you want and be mindful of portion sizes. Four ounces of lean protein is generally a good bet, but it all depends on your dietary needs.
Some FFC Lean Protein Recipes:
Are you gonna throw in some Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, a splash of Olive Oil? How about some Olives, Avocado or Cheese? Parmesan, Romano, Blue Cheese, Feta, Goat Cheese, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Monterey Jack. Just pick you favorite! These are all healthy fats that will not only make your salad taste great, they will help sustain energy levels and prevent “pig-outs” and crashes.
Of course, you can always use a few tablespoons of your favorite salad dressing.
Always use a mindful amount of healthy fats, a few tablespoons of one or two of these will do. I often use Hummus as my healthy fat choice. There are so many great flavored hummus choices these days. Hummus is easy to find in all markets and simple to make yourself. I will get you some creamy, yummy hummus recipes soon.
One of my favorite combinations: a splash of Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Garlic Salt, Pepper and a sprinkle of Feta or Grated Romano cheese.
Toss in or plate with a side of the following: Whole Wheat Cous Cous, Whole Wheat Pasta, Brown Rice, Sprouted Grain Croutons or Barley. You can also throw in a handful of your favorite beans. Black, Pinto, Cannellini, Kidney, Lentils, Edamame, etc. A handful of beans counts as part carb part protein. Beans are a very healthy, balanced food with loads of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Instead of, or in addition to your whole grains, perhaps you want a sweet twist in your salad. Some orange or grapefruit segments? Dried fruit: Apricots, Raisins, Dried Cherries, Cranberries? Just remember a little goes a long way when it comes to dried fruits. They have loads of sugar in them, mostly unrefined, but sugar none the less.
I use a large quantity and great quality Salsa or Pico de Gallo on pretty much all my meals. Salsa is very low calorie, full of flavor and it adds nutrients from the tomatoes and other veggies inside. Pick up salsa at the market or make your own. The fresher the better. Always look at ingredients to make sure no wanky ingredients are in your salsa. Ya know, lets keep away from preservatives and unnecessary added sugars and junk. A good salsa should have tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, peppers, lemon juice, lime juice and some spices. It doesn’t really need anything more or less.
Just like the hummus……i’ll be getting you some good salsa recipes asap. So much goodness is on the calendar for this years FFC recipe selections!
Click the following link to view and print a more comprehensive shopping list, FFC approved!
Make ’em Organic!
As I say over and over throughout FFC. Let’s eat our vittles with minimal processing, try to buy local when you can and lets avoid chemical contaminants (pesticides, added hormones and quirky genetic modifications) at all costs. Our bodies have enough pollutants and free radicals coming at them all the time from our environment. Let’s keep our foods as natural as possible. Our fruits, veggies, dairy and protein…all of it should be as pure as possible. Not only does organic taste better, we can better digest foods and assimilate the nutrients when they aren’t grown with harmful chemicals, synthetic fertilizers and bad energy.
The best bet, roll out your own Organic Vegetable and Fruit garden! The great folks over at groOrganic can help get you started on your own organic produce patch. Ahhh, just think stepping outside to gather your fresh fruits, veggies and herbs!
From a small planter, to a designated piece of land in your yard. These guys can help you make it happen! They will set you up with a garden plan, installation and a maintenance package. You decide together what you want to grow, how it will be maintained (them or you) and how you want your garden to look. There are loads of customizable packages available!
All your independently grown, sustainable, organic foodie dreams can be had at your own home! For the urban folks and apartment dwellers groOrganic can hook you up with indoor or windowsill planters, even if you don’t have a yard.
Having your own garden is a great way to teach your kids where their food comes from. Maintaining and harvesting from your own garden is a great activity to do as a family.
All this talk about clean, healthy, yummy salad and I need to remind you again of the wonderful health conscious event to kick off the New Year. It is hosted by Lori from Recipe Girl. She has created a virtual “team” to keep each other on track and accountable for healthy life changes.
I’m in are you??
To join a great team of fellow foodies on the quest to eat mindfully and exercise please click this link to learn more.
You can hop in and join up at any time….or you can observe and do things without reporting back to the group. No judgements, really.