Sunday, June 17, 2012

Deconstructed Salad Dressing

I have loved making some of the nut- and seed-based nutritarian dressings first inspired by the recipe collections and member posts, as well as Chef A.J.'s "Hail to the Kale" salad. My own versions of these dressings are available on this blog under the "salad ideas" tag. But in an effort to be more deliberate in my measurements of seeds and nuts, and to enjoy them fully, I have started "deconstructing" these dressings, including their components in their original form instead of blending them into a dressing.

Spinach salad with roasted garlic

Tonight, for example, I'm having a salad with a Middle Eastern spin:  dark lettuces, red onion, halved green grapes, diced cucumber, some pinto beans, one pressed garlic clove, the juice of a quarter of a lemon, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and some toasted pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds).

Yesterday I had a similar one with a California spin: dark lettuces, a few raisins, diced tomato, diced pepper, a mix of sprouted beans, one pressed garlic clove, a grating of fresh ginger, and toasted almond slivers.

The other day I did one with a Mexican spin: dark lettuces, Vidalia onion, diced tomato, diced green pepper, pinto beans, one mashed garlic clove, a dollop of salsa, and the juice of a quarter of a lime.  I saved the nuts for peanut butter on an apple on the side.

The key is to mix the "dressing" ingredients together with the beans and wet veggies (tomato) in the bottom of the bowl, then toss the leafy and hard veggie bits and fruits with this mixture and enjoy! I really like they way it helps me wean myself away from the idea of a dressing from a bottle or jar and to just enjoy the flavor that the fruits and vegetables give to the salad.

What are some other possibilities for this technique?

  • Tropical/Jamaican:  tomato, hot red peppers, pineapple, green onions, black beans, coconut?
  • Italian:  softened sun-dried tomato, fresh basil and rosemary from the garden, white beans, pine nuts and/or marinated olives
  • . . .
Update June 20:  Today I'm having pinto beans, garlic, a squeeze of lime, a dash of blood orange vinegar, sweet cherries, toasted almond slices, lettuces, baby greens, onion, and yellow bell pepper. It's great!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Burrito/Tostada Bar

The other day I needed to make a hearty dinner for my hungry family, and I wanted it to be nutritarian-friendly but also mainstream for family members not on the boat with me. :-)  So I created a kind of burrito/tostada bar like this:

Burritos *

Burrito/Tostada Bar
(non-nutritarian items in parentheses)

(Ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning)
(Shredded cheese)
Black beans
Finely chopped mixture of dark lettuces, onion, tomato, and bell pepper
Greek yogurt (soy is fine) mixed with sliced garlic and fresh cilantro
Corn tortillas (topped with reduced-fat cheese) and baked at 375 until crisp
Multi-grain flour tortillas

While I stood at the stove and heated the flour tortillas by sweeping them across the glass surface burner turned on high, family members assembled their own personal meals.  Mine was a corn tortilla with 1/2 oz. reduced-fat cheese used to dip up a mixture of the yogurt and salsa and beans as a dip, plus a warm tortilla with a single ounce of the meat mixture and a LOT of the veggies.  The versatility can keep everybody happy!

Of course you could use tempeh crumbles in place of the beef and Daiya in place of the cheese, though my own approach is to have very small amounts of traditional items instead of vegan items, and mostly to make the whole plant foods the major focus. You could make it even more festive with avocado and corn.

Verdict: Excellent!

* Not my burrito, but a cousin from Flickr.  Thanks, db0yd13!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Routine Oatmeal

Sounds boring, doesn't it?

But I really enjoy my morning oatmeal--it satisfies and sticks with me to a late lunch.  Here's what I've been doing lately--give it a try!

Basic Plan
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 fruit, diced
2/3 cup water, give or take, depending on the moisture in the fruit
1/2 oz nuts, chopped and lightly toasted (I use my toaster oven and the chopper I keep right beside it)
spices to complement the fruit
(sweetening if needed -- I keep it to about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar with sour fruits, but dates or other sweeteners will do the job if you prefer those. Taste it first, then try the least sweetening possible.)

Combine the oats and fruit and water in a large bowl and microwave for one minute. Stir, add spices, and microwave for one additional minute. Top with toasted nuts and enjoy!

Apple with walnuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg
Apple with almonds, ginger, and cardamom
Pear with almonds and cardamom
Peach** with pecans and allspice
Banana (added for only the second minute) with walnuts and cinnamon
Sour cherry** with pecans (definitely needs some sweetening, perhaps with apple)
Blueberry (added AFTER the oatmeal is cooked) with almonds and nutmeg

Do you have an oatmeal favorite combo?  

** I use peaches and cherries from our trees that I dehydrated with my Excalibur last summer--no additives!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Today's Salad: Western Asian

School's out for summer!  And I'm back. . . .

Since the Roman world considered Turkey Asia, and India is in that direction, too, I'll call this salad Western Asian.  I like the routine of a big nutritarian salad for lunch, but I like variations, too, and making the most of the ingredients I have around.

The Basic Plan

6-8 cups mixed lettuces (I buy the 1-lb box of baby lettuces from the grocery and it lasts me a bit under a week, supplemented with other lettuces like romaine hearts or whatever looks good)
1-2 cups other veggies (leftover cooked veggies that appeal, as well as carrots, cucumber, radishes, and other things for flavor or crunch)
1 fruit (diced apple or pear is one of my favorites, but sometimes I'll do a few raisins or other dried fruit, sliced grapes, or citrus)
1/2 - 1 cup beans (chickpeas, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, whatever -- home-cooked or rinsed from the can)
1/2 - 1 oz seeds or nuts (sunflower seeds, almond slices or slivers, walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds)
Vinegar, lemon juice, plain yogurt, and/or small amount of salad dressing to "spin" the salad in a particular direction

Making sure the salad has the beans and the seeds and the fruit gives it enough calories (300-plus) to satisfy, and the fruit gives enough moisture that the dressing is truly a condiment--just a touch. I sometimes like to create a dressing (recipes on this site) based on seeds or nuts, then portion it out so that I'm not doubling up on those.

Western Asian Variation
6 cups baby mixed greens
2 cups iceberg lettuce mix
1/3 large cucumber, diced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tomato, diced
1 pear, diced (apple might have been better)
3 radishes, sliced
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup Tasty Bite Madras Lentils, warmed (I just had this around -- no requirement for it to make the salad!)
1/2 oz lightly toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 oz grated fresh ginger
juice of 1/3 lemon

Put all these ingredients into a mixing bowl or serving bowl in roughly this order, then stir a bit to mix. The fruit adds most of the moisture needed for the salad, but the lemon juice and ginger added a bit of zing.

Verdict: Very Good.  I love my lunchtime salads, but I reserve "Excellent" for the really outstanding ones.