UPDATED JANUARY 7th, 2017
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…and I ought to know: For me, menopause has finally caught up and all those extra holiday desserts, as healthy as I make them, just added up a bit on my scale (ARGH!!), and it’s time for me to “uncomplicate” too!
So are you with me? Let’s do this together!
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–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 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. 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!