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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Salads

I can remember going to a salad bar and thinking, "Salads, healthy. I am safe." That idea was long before I even gave thought to becoming "plant strong." Truth was, I would pick greens and veggies (many prepared in oil), then douse them in a heavy animal based salad dressing. In fact, I had a system.

First, I would go to the salad bar and eat greens, and only greens. Covered in dressing. Then, my next trip would be for "protein," and this mainly so I could get my "money's worth" at the salad bar. In my head, I thought I was eating healthy, because after all, I was at a salad bar. I also paid attention to the little jars filled with sunflower seeds, croutons, raisins, etc. Thankfully, the spoons were small and so it cut down on portion size. But, I wondered why I couldn't lose weight? The salad bar was more like a trough.

Today, my trips to salad bars are fast and quick. At Whole Foods Market, you can eat a bounty of really delicious products, thanks to the ease of "Health Starts Here." Last night, I knew that I didn't want to cook dinner, so I hit the salad bar at WFM and loaded up with kale, heirloom beans, corn salsa. That was my dinner and it was SO good. Filling and delicious. Two years ago I wouldn't have even eaten that, especially because there is a silent rule that Friday is pizza night.

Being Plant Strong gets easier and easier every day. It really is like being on a journey, or maybe studying a foreign language (the more you practice, the more proficient you become). The further you are from your journey's beginning, the harder you realize it would be to "go back." It all has to do with being patient with yourself. Never, never, ever think that you are on a "diet." That will screw up your mind, because when you are on a diet, there is magical "done bell" you think you need to touch with the diet is "over." When you are plant strong, the journey is never over. Never.

One funny thing. Someone suggested to me that I should be plant strong six days a week, and on the seventh day, "go all out and eat whatever you want." I do eat whatever I want, and all of it is plant strong and delicious. No need to go back and visit the "other side."

Back to the salads. The dressings are the killer. Loaded with oil and salt. Even sugar. Sometimes I miss oil and salt, especially on a salad. I recently stumbled upon a really good salad dressing recipe in the Forks Over Knives companion book. I am going to post the basic, and then tell you what my Italian palate did to it.

Be a detective at salad bars. Ask to see an ingredient list. Or better yet, make your own dressing and take it with you when you eat out.

Here's my new favorite dressing, but be warned, that you should use it sparingly, This is really delicious and super creamy.

Favorite Easy Salad Dressing (by Brian Wendel)

Raw Nuts of your choice (cashews, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
Orange Juice (freshly squeezed is best)

1. Calibrate amounts based on how much dressing you will be serving and the desired creaminess.

2. Blend orange juice, a small amount of raw nuts, and a few slices of tomato together. Serve over your favorite salad.

Char's Additions

I prefer a dressing with a little more kick, so I added ONE garlic cloves and a quarter of an onion. I used 1/4 cup cashews, 1/4 cup oj, and 1/2 tomato. If you want a thinner dressing, add more juice.

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