Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"s" is for seeds, salad


Seeds are new to my every day eating since I discovered that "fat doesn't make you fat." Turns out that some fats (especially plant-based fat) are actually GOOD FOR US! So, I've been experimenting with all kinds of seeds. Like nuts, you need to read the label to see what they've done to the seeds before packaging - they'll often deep-fat fry them, adding salt and other chemicals. I try to purchase the "raw" version, and I roast them myself. It doesn't take very long, and it makes the house smell great! For just munching or adding to salads, I like sunflower and pumpkin seeds. For cooking, I really like adding sesame seeds to all kinds of dishes (right at the end, for a bit of crunch and flavor). In my smoothies, I add flax (must crack/crush them first) or chia seeds. I have really grown to like chia seeds for their protein, soluble fiber, and when added to liquid they exude a gelatinous substance. There are recipes for "chia jam," which are basically fruit and chia seeds all smashed together and then allowed to sit and "gel." I really want to try this, but haven't yet. The one seed that I haven't tried is hemp. My trainer recommends it, but I have a glitch. As part of my health agreement, I submit myself for regular drug-testing. My doc recommended that I NOT consume hemp seeds during this time, as it may produce a false positive. Interesting, huh? Oh, well... lots of other seeds to enjoy!


Only recently have I begun to really enjoy basic salad. I have always like the kinds of salad I can order at restaurants: the kinds with cheese, meat, bacon, blue cheese dressing. Who wouldn't like that? Really, the lettuce is just there to hold together the good stuff. My sister makes a really good salad at home, but when I try to emulate her, I end up putting too much stuff in... and salad should really be simple. Since eating more nourishingly these days (and for the last 18 months or so), my tastes have changed, and I find myself sometimes WANTING a salad! Really! And, when I started to add beans into my regular eating, that made salads into a meal. So, now I keep salad fixings in my fridge all the time, and I'm making quick salads several times each week.

The secret to my new salad-loving is my salad dressing. I always want the creaminess of blue cheese, but the calories (and lack of nutrition) are a problem. I've solved it with a mixture of hummus and Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing. I take 2 tbls of each and put them in the salad container. I put on the lid and SHAKE IT until it's all mixed up and a little bit wilted.

Here's what I like (I cut all my ingredients into small pieces):
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cucumbers (I especially like the English long seedless)
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans (whatever can is open: garbanzo, black, white, kidney)
That covers the basics of every salad. The following are add-ins dependent on whether I have them in the fridge and whether I need more protein or more fat.
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Olives
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Bean sprouts (these don't last long in the fridge, so they're a treat)
  • Avocado (1/2)
  • Meat (grilled or rotisserie chicken, salmon, pork, beef, whatever's leftover in the fridge)
For me, the trick has been to keep it simple. More is not better when it comes to salad. Also, it's faster to make this way, so I'm more likely to do it!


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