UPDATED JANUARY 20th, 2018
I have to confess, this last year has been a difficult one for our family, with various health and wellness issues. As a result, I have let Cuisinicity languish a bit. Those of you who follow me diligently probably noticed that I haven’t made a single new video in my kitchen for over a year now. That requires energy and conviction and love, not to mention time, and all that was spent elsewhere! I can’t fake this stuff! The good news is that things are looking up now and I will be fully back for you guys soon, I promise! The bad news for me is that I have gone off my own healthy ways a bit and indulged a bit too much in non-cuisinicity indulgences (yikes!!) when stress and sadness got to me. Between that and menopause and ever less enthusiasm for my zumba classes, leading to less and less exercising, I have, for the first time in my life since I was a teenager, gained a good 10 pounds! ARGH!!! So, here you have it, I confess: Miss Cuisinicity over here needs to get back on the wagon fully, and I am thinking maybe some of you are with me on this, for your own reasons….
So today, I thought for a start, I would bring back my “Fresh Simple Salads” blog I wrote a couple years ago and get back in the swing of things with you! I will bring back other blogs geared toward our common goal as well, over the next few weeks. Again, it’s not about feeling deprived or even going ON a diet as you know. Rather, it is about loving food that loves us back but really LOVES us back not just comfort us back–BIG DIFFERENCE!
Needless to say, I am heading back to the gym too because no matter how healthy my recipes, the energy balance of CALORIES IN-CALORIES OUT still holds! So, if you are with me on the calories-in side, I hope you are with me on the calories-out side too! It’s crucial for our health and our well-being, no matter what, so even those of you who don’t need to lose the weight, it’s a valid and important formula!
So are you with me?……
Back to my blog from a couple years ago:
Now that the holidays are behind us, it’s time to “uncomplicate” things a bit for our palate and simplify our menu with those wonderful salads that you can just whip up without much thought–or at least with this little bit of guidance, I hope! Sometimes, that’s all it takes–a little word of encouragement and an easy plan to put it into effect, and these extra pounds just start to shed!
This week, I am keeping it very simple. I just want to throw out ideas for what a basic “clean” salad can be, and just leave it to you to do your thing and take it from there–We are not talking iceberg lettuce with bacon bits, croutons and ranch dressing here!
Try this “formula” for a spa dinner every night this week! No fuss, no “suffering”, just use the same base every day of all you can eat fresh mixed greens with lots of fresh cut veggies–with your plate overflowing with them–and then, each day, vary one small portion of lean protein of your choice.
FRESH ORGANIC MIXED GREENS:
AS MUCH AS YOU WANT EVERY DAY
It should fill your plate (have it overflow even–you can’t have too much!) and it can be as diverse as you’d like:
Baby spinach, Arugula, Kale, Boston lettuce, Romaine, Radicchio, Chard, Green Leaf, Red Leaf…..(You can even take advantage of the pre-washed ready-to-go bags to make it easier for you).
FRESH VEGGIES: AS MUCH AS YOU WANT EVERY DAY
As much raw chopped vegetables as you can pile on (tomato, carrot, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, alfalfa sprouts, fennel, cauliflower, string beans, snap peas etc…). You can’t have too much!
I recommend a mandolin slicer for perfectly thin slices for some of the harder veggies, or just simply your vegetable peeler knife you can get at the supermarket, to cut carrot “shavings”–it’s so quick and easy. You can also grill your vegetables–see Grilled Veggies and of course, any of my veggies options from my Simply Wholesome collection here.
SOME LEAN PROTEIN: PICK ONE FROM THE LIST BELOW EACH DAY
Plain canned beans, well rinsed (black, red kidney, chickpeas, cannellini, Great Northern, fava). A wonderful variation that my daughter Natalia came up with is to add a big dollop of hummus to your salad, which makes it creamier and takes care of the protein! Really delicious! You can also use my Black Bean Tomato and Corn Salad.
Plain cooked lentils (you can also used canned, well rinsed) or my recipe for French Lentil & Sweet Potato Salad or Carrot Quinoa Lentils that keep be refrigerated and are great cold! You can also Check out my new Healthy Cooking Basics (click here) for exact cooking instructions !
Plain or marinated Tofu— There are many varieties for you to choose from. I am only now acclimating to that option, so I defer to you on the best tasting ones. Just watch out for the added sodium, if marinated.
Some non-vegan options:
Hard boiled eggs, organic, free-range and Pasture-raised. The latter means that they come from chickens that enjoy the most freedom and space, spending the majority of their days outdoors. The problem with that is that Pasture-raised eggs are harder to find, which is why, even though eggs are nutritionally sound, in moderation, I am exploring more vegan options to replace eggs wherever I can.
YOU CAN ALSO ADD PLAIN COOKED WHOLE GRAINS:
Bulgur Wheat, Farro, Quinoa, wheat berries are some great options. Check out my new Healthy Cooking Basics (click here) where I give you simple straightforward nail-it-everytime cooking instructions for a variety of wholegrains and legumes!! I recommend you make a batch and keep it stored in a tupperware in the fridge. it will keep fresh for a week. You can also use my recipe for Simply Quinoa, or Mediterranean Couscous salad.
IF YOU’D LIKE, FEEL FREE TO TOP YOUR SALAD WITH:
Fresh Sliced Fruit: Strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, avocado are great options.
Some nuts and seeds: Walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hempseeds (they have a lovely nutty taste), hazelnuts, pistachio, pignoli nuts and many others are a delightful and nutritious addition, as long as they are raw or simply roasted with no additives (sugar coated pecans won’t do HAHA!!).
Finally, for the DRESSING: KEEP IT SIMPLE! This is where a perfectly healthy and nutritious salad can go awry: No processed ranch dressing and bacon bits here!!!
Just drizzle extra virgin olive oil and vinegar of your choice ( I love balsamic vinegar but cider vinegar or white or red wine vinegar is lovely too). If you prefer, you can replace the vinegar with fresh squeezed lemon–a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper and toss, some fresh herbs to top it off, if you’d like….and that’s it!
If you prefer a creamier dressing, I recommend adding a big dollop of my fat-free Simply Spinach Dip to your salad, before tossing (I show you exactly how to make it in this video–ridiculously quick and easy!). You can make a batch and store in a tupperware in the fridge. It will keep fresh for a week, so don’t hesitate, if creamy is your thing, this is the dressing for you! Alternatively, you can add a dollop of hummus instead (Natalia’s wonderful idea–see my tip above). Either addition is not only delicious but it also adds nutrients (and protein) to your salad to boot.
If you prefer exact recipes for fresh salads, here is a nice glossary so you can pick and choose!
I think if you try this “formula” for a week and skip dessert too (yep, even my healthy desserts that have a little sugar, just to get your tastebuds “desensitized” to sweet, you can always have my simply cinnamon apples on hand in your fridge if you want, so satisfying without the calories!), you will be surprised with the result:
For one, because you can plan this ahead of time for the whole week. You don’t have to worry about what to make for dinner every night because everything will be ready to go in your fridge or your pantry. No fuss–I love that!
Secondly, because of the high volume of veggies in these salads, you will fill up on fewer calories and will find yourself not only satiated and satisfied and may well notice those pounds shedding off steadily. Add to that, some physical activity to get your heart pumping each day–use the stairs, go for a brisk walk, dance (my favorite!), join a gym, do some jumping jacks, whatever you can add to your schedule (even 20 minutes makes a difference)–and you are good to go!
So, there you have it, take it away and make it your own and know that I’ll be right with you, by your side, doing exactly the same thing…most probably dancing to my favorite song (just skip the pie!): LET’S DO THIS!