2015-05-24 14.27.51

Gorgeous (Nearly) All Green Salad – Avocado, Asparagus, Grapefruit and Baby Spinach

The asparagus has been amazing, this year. I see it on a ton of menus, and every time I find it, even in the most “regular” of grocery stores, the spears are thin, tender, and gorgeous. Yay asparagus. For this recipe, I sauté them, very lightly, with some olive oil and lemon, as a means of brightening them and making them stand out against the dressing.

Also, the vinaigrette for this is made with mustard and fresh grapefruit juice. I love this so much, for a variety of salads, but particularly with avocado. Delicious! It is one of the ways that I am using my mother’s Christmas gift to me: a NutriBullet. I poo-pooed this contraption before getting it–because, my heart belongs to the Vitamix that I don’t yet have. But, I’m happy to say that I’ve found a variety of uses for this wonderful contraption–it does a really wonderful job for not only smoothies, but salad dressing, soups, and more. Anyway, enough with my testimony! On to the recipe…


(Nearly) All Green Salad

2015-05-24 14.27.43Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: as entree, 2 people; as side-dish, 4 people

Salad Ingredients:

  • sauted asparagus
    • 10-15 spears asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
    • 1 t olive oil
    • 1/2 lemon
    • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 1/4 fresh red grapefruit
  • 1/2 small Haas avocado
  • 2 T roasted pumpkin seeds

2015-05-24 14.20.14Dressing Ingredients:

  • juice of 1/4 fresh red grapefruit
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 1 T cider vinegar
  • 1 T dried herbs (your choice)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t fresh ground pepper
  • 2 T olive oil

Directions:

  1. Heat, on high, a small sauté pan. When hot, add olive oil.
  2. Add asparagus, and quickly move around the pan to coat with oil. Add salt and pepper and then squeeze lemon over the asparagus.
  3. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until bright green and lemon juice is completely evaporated.
  4. Pull off of the fire and let cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  5. Separate the flesh of 1/4 of a grapefruit (from the “salad” ingredients list) in a large bowl. This is a bit messy, but try to keep the sections into chunks. There will be some juice that settles in the bottom of the bowl. Pour that juice into the blender cup.
  6. Make the dressing by first squeezing the other 1/4 grapefruit directly into the blender or blender cup. Feel free to include some of the grapefruit flesh.
  7. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients to the blender cup and blend until completely emulsified and frothy (will be a light yellow and completely opaque). Set aside.
  8. Put all of the salad ingredients into a salad bowl and drizzle the dressing over it (dress as heavily as you desire–I tend to use only about 1/4 of the dressing, but keep the rest in the fridge for additional salads over the next week.

2015-05-24 14.27.55Serving hint: I like to keep the salad somewhat pristine as I put on the table. Toss the salad before actually loading onto plates. The avocado and the grapefruit will break up and make the salad even more creamy than the dressing, alone.

Knife Skills: How To Dice, Julienne, Brunoise & Batonnet by Jacob Burton from Stella Culinary

Every now and again, I try to brush up on my knife skill knowledge. I still don’t have the best cutting techniques, but I’m always trying to work on them. Stella Culinary has some great instructional videos, to this end. Today, just a review of those little cuboids and cuboe: julienne, brunoise, and batonnet.

Raw Beet & Carrot Salad

2015-05-20 19.16.51Oh this salad! This salad is one of the most beautiful salads that can ever exist! It is wonderful in the winter. It is incredibly delicious right. now. I do not peel any of the veggies, in this, and I shred them in my food processor.

The long of the short: it’s shredded raw beet and carrot in a vinaigrette. I suggest marinading these separately, and then putting them together to serve (because the carrot will all become beet colored). The combo color isn’t a bad one, but it is just far more striking if you can clearly delineate which is which.

Also, when grapefruit is in season, I really recommend a grapefruit dressing for this. Today, I used a simple apple cider/balsamic/lemon dressing, which you’ll find below.

Raw Beet & Carrot Salad

Serves: 4-6
Prep-time: 15 minutes + marinading time

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 t dried herbs of choice (I used a combo of rosemary, fennel, basil, and oregeno)
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • pinch of sugar or dash of agave or maple syrup

Salad Ingredients:

  • 6-8 large carrots, shredded
  • 2 large beets, shredded

Additional Suggestions for Garnish:

  • pepitas
  • roasted pine nuts
  • dollop of hummus

Directions:

  1. Optional step: Grind the dried herbs, pepper, and salt in a mortal and pestle, until herbs are a semi-powder.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients, and set aside.
  3. 2015-05-20 19.17.39Keep carrots and beets in separate glass bowls (beware of plastic for marinading, always-as the acid may leech some of the plastic-but also because of staining), and pour 1/2 of the dressing on top of each.
  4. If serving within a few hours: toss each and let sit for 1o-15 minutes (minimum). Try to toss every 15 minutes or so, until serving.
  5. If serving later or the next day (this keeps, nicely), toss every now and again (try to toss at least 2 times), and store, covered, in the fridge.
  6. Serving: put in a serving bowl as I show, above (carrot on one side, beet on the other).

Carrot Lentil Salad

Carrots and LentilsWell, I said that I was going to do a series on salads, and I completely dropped the ball on that. So, now, post-graduation festivities, and as a means of procrastinating on efforts for my upcoming move… salads it is!

I’ll begin with the one I actually made today! I originally posted this in August, of last year. It is one of my favorite go-to recipes, especially when I buy a gang of carrots for something else. This time, I enlisted my step-brother to over-buy carrots for the cold sesame noodles that I made for my graduation get together. Oops, but one that converts into one of the most satisfying salads that I make, regularly.

You can make this way ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, undressed. I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to a single portion, which made this super sweet but still delicious! I also recommend squeezing about 1/2 a lemon or so on it (you may want to serve it with lemon wedges, so folks can decide for themselves). The very earthy worlds of carrot and lentils feel lifted, just a tad, with the acid. During winter, I suggest leaving the acid off, for something far more comforting.

As I said in my original post: All of the flavor comes from the lentils, and the salad is dressed simply, with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Do not dress until you are ready to serve and eat, as the salad will simply absorb the oil and become really dry (I do add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl I carry to work for lunch–but it is certainly better when it is freshly dressed).

Ingredients:

  • 1 c dry whole red lentils
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 t whole fennel seed
  • 1/2 t whole coriander
  • 1/2 t whole cumin
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • 1 unsalted veggie bullion
  • 3-4 large carrots, grated
  • salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste
  • additional dressing, if desired: 1-1/2 t balsamic vinegar or the juice of one lemon

Directions:

  1. In a mortar, add the cumin and coriander, and crack with a pestle (not a fine grind, but until coriander is in 1/2 pieces or so)
  2. Add to a saucepan: the lentils, wine, water, bay, fennel, coriander, cumin, pepper, and bullion.
  3. Cover and bring the saucepan to a soft boil.  Once boiling, uncover the pan and turn the heat down to medium, and cook lentils until tender but not falling apart (20-30 minutes).
  4. Drain the lentils (if needed), and pull the bay leaf.  Cool lentils to at least room temperature.
  5. Combine the carrots and lentils.  Add salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.  Serve.

My Journal: Reading The Weight Escape, cont.

I know it’s been a very long time since I started reading The Weight Escape and journalling about it. I will admit, some of that has to do with my own avoidance of how I’ve been feeling in my body and my assumptions about the efforts it will take to bring myself to a state of health with which I am comfy. I have been avoiding.

I tend to avoid, when something isn’t pleasant. I prefer to run and hope something blows over or spontaneously fixes (which never happens), rather than look at it straight on and deal with it. But, the further I go in my life, the more I practice being honest with myself and others, the harder it is to avoid things.

Interestingly enough, the next step in The Weight Escape is to interact just with this part of myself. So, from pages 44-45:

1.  I distract myself through watching tv, tooling around the internet, talking to friends on the phone, eating, and shopping (sometimes in person and sometimes online). I surely use eating and cooking as distractions, sometimes.

2.  I surely “opt out” (what I call “avoid”) of spending time with friends, doing things I enjoy, and doing things that I know are healthy for me, because they are stressful or because I am stressed (and I some how “need” or “want” to stay stressed–really, it’s that I’m not ready to deal with the stress, yet). I don’t think I use dieting or anything like that to opt out. Instead, I just hide…. I go off the grid, stop answering phone calls and the like, sleep a lot, and stay in the house.

3.  I surely attempt to “think” my way out of feeling terrible. I will formulate strategies, plan my life as a means of trying to undo the things that are stressing me. I also try to rationalize the way that I am feeling–searching for the root causes of my anxieties, sadnesses, or other discomforts as a means of ferreting out and exposing the causes to, thereby, also remedy the feelings. This doesn’t always work, but sometimes by thinking, writing, and talking (when I stop hiding) about what I am feeling and where it comes from, I am also motivated to change the habits that I rely upon to keep fast those feelings.

Kurt Wenner's version of the sin, Gluttony (from Daily Mail).Kurt Wenner’s version of the sin, Gluttony (from Daily Mail).

4.  There are a number of ways that I self-medicate. Sometimes, if my body hurts, I do use OTC medicines. I have recently weened myself off of an herbal supplement for depression, but turned to herbs when I felt like I couldn’t control my reaction to the pressures of grad school (did this while talking to a therapist). And, I absolutely use food to punish myself. I overeat to the point of discomfort and despite what my own body tells me about what I am eating. I will sometimes push my consumption to the point of feeling nauseous (that “couldn’t have another bite” moment)–which I can feel a bit, now, as I write this. If I am in a cycle of doing this to myself, and it is interrupted by some healthy eating (often the result of my own routine being interrupted and eating being a matter of social engagement, and therefore my behavior curbed because people can see what I am doing–like a weekend with friends), I will realize that I feel much better with less food in my body. However, I often revert to my punishing behavior. I often do this when I am sad, lonely, and/or anxious.

5.  My social strategy is twofold: 1) I inhabit the sarcasm-as-funny role; 2) I play it super big, with a loud voice, lots of passion, and often my own version of “truth telling.” I often perform these as a means of participating but also distancing myself from my own senses of vulnerability. Also, I just get my feelings hurt very easily, and communicate that through anger–usually.

I like that the book situates the above conversation as a set of strategies that I use (we use) as a means of control, instead of the ways that I would frame them (as weaknesses, bad habits, punishments, etc.). Well, here I go back to reading.  I hope to be more consistent with this reading, and get it done this weekend.

Along with this reading, I am purging my house of things, in preparation for moving. Change is hard, it is no wonder that I am returning to my control strategies as I prepare to leave Nashville and head to Chicago, this summer (really, in a couple of months). I’m hoping that this book helps me return to being kind to myself, during this time (and as a new habit/strategy). Stick with me, and we’ll see.

Finally, and just to note: it is really hard for me to publish this. It feels like putting a very vulnerable part of myself out there for others to see. Still, I will do it. Right now.