Summer Salad

All winter long, it felt like I was on a great quest only instead of a holy grail I was searching for easy and tasty ways to prepare vegetables. In the summer, I don’t have to look very far. Inevitably, when summer rolls around, all I ever want is a nice dinner salad. I think it’s the sunlight that inspires me to eat brightly colored cool foods. I search Pinterest for new summer salad recipes at least once a week. One thing I love about salads is that virtually anything in your kitchen can go in one. That leaves a ton of room for creativity and innovation. But a lot of times salad recipes in cookbooks and online call for ingredients that require a special grocery trip or take too long to prepare, which is great sometimes but not always. Sometimes I just want a plain old dinner salad.

Lately, my favorite salad to make has been just that: one that gets back to the basics. Honestly it reminds me of the kind of salad you’d make at a salad bar, except the ingredients are fresh and haven’t been manhandled by who knows how many strangers.

Summer Salad
Summer Salad

This salad is all veggies (plus some sunflower seeds). It is super easy to prepare, and would be a good option to take for lunch at the office. The recipe as it stands is for one entree-sized salad. If you want to make more just increase the amount of ingredients proportionally.

Summer Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • Handful Mixed Greens and/or Spinach
  • 1 Heart of Romaine
  • 1 Campari Tomato (or other small variety)
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Cucumber
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Carrots (or Matchstick Carrots)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Broccoli
  • 1-2 TBL Chopped Red Onion
  • 1/2 a Small Avocado
  • 1 TBL Sunflower Seeds

Combine all ingredients except avocado. Toss. Address vinaigrette and avocado. Toss again. Enjoy!

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:

1 Teaspoon Each:

  • Honey (or Agave if Vegan)
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice

summer saladOne important thing to note about this salad is that these proportions are not mandatory. I don’t like much tomato or onion in my salad, so I limited the quantity. One the other hand I love lettuce and avocado so I added a bit more. If you feel the opposite, just adjust your quantities accordingly! This is just a starting guide, really. The dressing, Honey Dijon Vinaigrette, is one of my favorites, and is generally my go-to for a vegetable salad. You can make a big batch and store in a mason jar, but it only keeps for a few days.

This salad is easy to make and pretty tasty. Plus the fiber and nutrients make it surprisingly filling, even though it is fairly low in calories (around 250). It’s just a nice, crisp and refreshing bowl of vegetables that works best in summer, but could probably be enjoyable all year round!

Juice Cleanse Recap

A week later, I’ve gotten some clarity. The short synopsis: Juice cleanse is awesome! It was hard. Sometimes really hard. But definitely worth it. It did everything it was supposed to do. I feel healthier, cleaner, and back on track. Also, it’s weirdly addicting and I kind of want to do it again.

green juice

It’s such a strange experience. After my last post, I took a turn for the worse. I did the juice cleanse from Sunday morning to Thursday afternoon and my reaction got progressively worse. I’d read more than once that the first day is the hardest, but that wasn’t my experience at all. I felt really good the first day, but pretty normal. The second day, which I’ve already written about, I went a little crazy. Felt real weird. Almost cried in public. Slept a million hours. The third day was similar to the second. I was less crazy maybe, but I felt more lightheaded. I couldn’t focus on anything at all. The fourth day, the headache arrived. It was terrible. Also, I slept a million hours again. I barely even got out of bed that fourth day. I ended up eating a modified version of my clean southwest salad because I was feeling so weak. The fifth day was a half day, which was my intention. And, it was for the best because I was legitimately sick by that point. Maybe the sickness meant that I should have kept going to get past the detoxing, but it was time to stop. I was so nauseous and my headache was even worse.

So, my description probably makes it sound really terrible. But somehow, it really seriously wasn’t. Like, the bad parts were bad. But overall I could tell it was working, which is what’s important.

And all weekend, after the cleanse was over, I felt amazing. I still do! I’ve been having a 16 ounce of green juice everyday for breakfast, which is good for two reasons. First, it’s really the best way to consume as many greens as possible, and it’s a nice way to ease your metabolism into the day. Second, it’s a really good way to remind me to keep up the clean eating for the day. If I have kale-pear juice for breakfast and feel really fresh after, I don’t want to ruin it later.

So for anyone who might be interested, I thought I’d post my juicing schedule. Juice Cleanse

A few of the recipes are on the last couple of blog posts I’ve made. It would take a long time to post the full recipes of every single juice, so I’m not gonna do that unless I get some requests. But in the meantime I have some basic rules for how much to use of each ingredient.

    • Kale: 6-8 leaves. (If you buy Cal-Organic, it’s one bunch.)
    • Spinach: 1 cup.
    • Romaine: 4-6 leaves.
    • Cucumber: 1 cuke.
    • Celery: 5 stalks
    • Carrots: 4-5 carrots
    • Beet: 1 large beet or 2 small
    • Apple: 1-2, depending on taste preference or how many other ingredients are involved
    • Lemon: 1 fruit.
    • Ginger: 1 inch chunk.
    • Grapefruit: 1 or 2 depending on how many additional ingredients you have.
    • Mint: Handful of leaves
    • Parsley: 1/4 cup
    • Pineapple: 1 cup

Obviously, I just included the first three days, because that is how long I prepped. The fourth day I recommend taking your favorites of each category and having those. You can also experiment with combos that use these basic ingredients. I made choices partially based on what I had left from my big shopping trip. For the fifth day, do one green, one citrus, and one root, then eat produce and seeds/nuts for dinner. Avoid animal products and sugar especially. You should also stick with vegan for a couple of days after, too.

Hopefully if you try it out you find it as rewarding as I did. Please let me know if you have questions!

-lj

More Juice

Wow okay. So the juice cleanse is…intense. Well, maybe intense isn’t the right word. I should say weird. It’s been real weird. For instance, it took me three tries to write this coherently!

I meant to post something yesterday, but I fell asleep halfway through writing it and basically slept for the next 14 hours. I told you, it’s weird. So I’m posting about yesterday today! And maybe I’ll post again with more tomorrow.

Physically, I’ve been pretty okay. It’s been a lot more manageable than I expected, aside from sleeping a million hours. One weird thing is both nights I’ve woken up at like 4 a.m. with the most insane headache. I’ve had a lot of headaches, and a lot of different kinds but nothing really like this. Maybe the headache when I had a minor concussion…that’s actually the closest I can think of. It felt like someone had hit me really hard with a really heavy bat. But I went back to sleep pretty quickly and felt much better in the morning. Today, a much milder headache has come and gone but other than that I’ve been good.

Yesterday was a lot harder. I don’t know if it’s because I was doing too much or what but I went a little nuts in the middle. I felt so loopy. I almost started crying at an office supply store. Eventually I had to stop and get a gluten/sugar free granola bar because I felt like I was drunk driving and was worried about making it home. I’m guessing it was a combination of low blood sugar (stemmed from not following my juice schedule closely enough) and the detoxing process. Luckily it just lasted a few hours.

Other than the afternoon weirdness, I’ve been feeling really good. All of the juices I’ve made have been pretty tasty. Some have even been super delicious. Here and there I’ll feel hungry or I’ll really wish I could get some Indian takeout (or whatever) but for the most part, the consumption part has been no problem.

2013-03-18 17.01.43

In fact it’s going so well that I’ve decided to extend the cleanse, but on a modified level. Remember those old Slim Fast diets? A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and then a sensible dinner? I’m thinking about trying something similar but with juices. I have no idea if it is a good idea or if it even makes sense, but it’s something I’m going to look into. I used to be a consistent habit of starting the day with a liquid, and I realize now it’s something I’ve been missing.

Also, I am adding on a fourth day to the full-on cleanse. I had enough produce leftover so I think I can fill up the whole day tomorrow. I definitely did not expect to want to keep going but I’m not sure three days was long enough.

So, that’s my experience with juice cleansing so far!

Here are a couple recipes that I have enjoyed:

Sweet Green Juice

  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 4 Stalks Celery
  • Handful Mint
  • 1 Pear

Tropical Carrot Juice

  • 1 1/2 Cups Pineapple
  • 1 Orange
  • 5 Carrots
  • 1 Inch Ginger

I would include pictures but I forgot to take some! Let’s blame the juice cleanse…

-lj

Vegging out.

So this week continues my on-going quest to insert more vegetables into my life. Having recently passed the one year mark on this operation, it’s time to step up the game. My body understands the difference between healthy and unhealthy now, finally, and it’s time to escalate to the next level. I’m marking the occasion with a juice cleanse! 

Honestly part of it is to initiate next level status, but part of it is because I have been having frequent headaches and other illness-y symptoms recently and I want to get out whatever toxins are making me sick. To prep for a juice cleanse, the juice company recommends taking a few days to work your way into it, which means a mostly vegan, gluten-free, unprocessed diet. I’ll talk more about this later but I wanted to set the stage!

I don’t mind eating mostly produce at all, certainly not just for a couple of days, but my body gets annoyed if it doesn’t have what feels like a real meal. And, I figure three days of nothing but cold-pressed juice is coming up, so I don’t really want to eat a whole bunch of vegan soup leading up to that. So I thought about meals I’ve made in the past that are solid food, warm and almost entirely plant-based. I really love spaghetti squash so I decided to think about something like that.

zucc marinara
Zucchini Marinara

Continue reading “Vegging out.”

The Lazy Girl’s DIY Sushi

Do you ever get on kicks where you could eat the same food every day? Given how many times I’ve blogged either curry or oatmeal, it should not be a surprise that this happens to me fairly frequently. Currently, my food addiction is sushi. Specifically, sushi rolls. I know there are plenty of other kinds, which I also like, but give me a couple of maki rolls and I am good to go. The complimentary flavors, the mix of textures, the vast assortment of possibilities. YUM. I’m into it.

The good news is that it could be a lot worse, nutritionally speaking. But as foods go, it’s so elusive. It’s the kind of thing that is really better at a restaurant. A lot of the ingredients can be hard to find and it is a bit of a production to prepare. But then the restaurants have problems too. White rice. Lots of fried ingredients. Lots of sugar. Insane amounts of sodium. In and of itself that wouldn’t be a deal breaker because there are plenty of things on the menu to sustain a fairly healthy meal. The biggest problem is that it is expensive. It’s hard to get enough to eat at a sushi place for less than $25.

So I decided maybe I could figure out a way to make something at home. At first I thought about learning how to make actual rolls, but I ran into a couple of problems before I even got started. First, a lot of the ingredients are not the easiest to find around here. Let alone supplies like a bamboo mat. I’m sure I could find things at Whole Foods or similar places, but the weather is bad this week and it’s a little bit of a drive. Plus, if I’m going for cost-effectiveness, buying all kinds of exotic supplies kind of defeats the purpose. The second problem was that even if I did spend the time and effort getting everything I needed, I’d have to actually do the dicing and shaping and rolling and all that stuff. In the ever eloquent words of Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m not great at dicing, and my touch is not particularly delicate, so I just envision crafting the rolls really poorly.

But then it occurred to me, I probably had nearly all of the necessary basics, or acceptable substitutes, and if it’s really the ingredients I like the best, why not just throw them all into a dish together, burrito bowl style?

The result was a very lovely “sushi salad”.

Sushi Salad OR the Lazy Girl's DIY Sushi Roll
Sushi Salad OR the Lazy Girl’s DIY Sushi Roll in a Bowl

Continue reading “The Lazy Girl’s DIY Sushi”

Diversifying My Vegetable Repertoire

This week, as promised, has been a huge improvement! I’m finally getting over my passive attitude toward fitness. That means, in addition to more (and better) workouts, I am back on an active search for new vegetable-heavy recipes to try. Nutritionists suggest the majority of your calories should come from vegetables, but since vegetables have the least amount of calories of any food group, it is a bit of an algebraic conundrum. I mean, an ounce of spinach is 10 calories. That is hard to work with when I also should really not eat fewer than 1400-1500 calories per day after workout. So it’s a challenge! Find ways to incorporate more vegetables!

One way I incorporated more vegetables this week was with a super delicious Moroccan salad featuring harissa, a semi-spicy red pepper paste…it almost has the consistency of a red pepper pesto. I had it on a salad at a Moroccan restaurant a few months ago and have been meaning to buy a jar ever since. It’s available at higher end grocers like Fresh Market and I’ve also seen it at Crate & Barrel/Williams Sonoma sort of places. Maybe you have a more diversified local supermarket than me and it’s available there for you as well!

I have always liked Moroccan Carrot Salad, which usually features orange and raisins, and I thought it would be interesting to combine the two Moroccan food-things with which I am most familiar. I looked up some recipes for the carrot salad online and found a few that were all variations on a theme, and I went from there.

moroccan carrot salad

Continue reading “Diversifying My Vegetable Repertoire”