Archive for Salad

Snowed in for The Week – Winter seasonal recipes

It looks like I owe you readers (particularly those in the Northeast) an apology, because I think I jinxed things with this week’s theme. “Oh, hey, it’s the middle of winter,” I thought, “Let’s do another winter seasonal recipe week.” And just a few days later…

Miles on top of Mount Snow

Was it the siren song of dark, leafy greens, one of the staples of mid-winter seasonal eating?

Or the lure of the hearty taste of roasted root or cruciferous vegetables, tossed with crunchy sunflower seeds?

Whatever brought it calling, the blizzard’s sweep through our north-of-Boston town sure provided me with a timely backdrop for this week’s recipe theme.

I first tried out the roasted cauliflower, beet and greens salad pictured above after my husband earmarked it in the recent Nutrition Action issue. It’s a classic combo of those dark greens and root vegetables that are key to many winter seasonal recipes – salads, stews, pasta dishes and more. But this time of year, there are also great ways to make use of the bright, crisp citrus fruits that thankfully become plentiful.

I’ve rounded up a week’s worth of recipes that showcase winter’s surprisingly tasty variety. You should try them once you’ve dug the car out of that 5-foot snow drift:

  • Roasted cauliflower and arugula salad from Eat Life Whole (here)not the actual recipe I made, which has not yet been posted to Nutrition Action’s website. But if you omit the cheese and add in some cooked, diced beets, this is the same basic idea.
  • Turkey stew with root vegetables from Simply Recipes (here)
  • Winter pasta salad from The Daily Green (here)
  • Citrus curried couscous with brussel sprouts from Cooking Light (here)
  • Winter vegetable curry from The Food Network (here)
  • Skillet gnocchi with chard and white beans from Eating Well (here)I think I’ve featured this before, but it’s certainly tasty enough for two mentions
  • Snap pea, grapefruit, maple and nut salad from Lunch Box Bunch (here)

The Missing Week: Magnesium’s turn in the spotlight

There are several rockstar nutrients – calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin C – who can’t seem to share the spotlight with the rest of the cast. But somewhere a few steps off the red carpet, there’s a lesser known but hard-working mineral that deserves some attention: magnesium.

This salad will make a lot more sense after a few paragraphs.

Magnesium keeps bones strong, helps nerves zzzzap like normal, and is needed for a few other minor tasks like, oh, keeping your heart beating. (Lots more info here) But apparently that isn’t glitzy enough for the average eater, because nearly half of people age 1 and older have inadequate intakes (pdf).

Why? Well, our love of refined grains may be one culprit – wheat’s germ and bran are rich in magnesium, but those get stripped out when processed into flours and such. Green Veggie Phobia is another contributor, because if you aren’t eating your greens, you’re not getting the magnesium-rich chlorophyll.

I think we all agree that we like non-brittle bones and still-beating hearts, so what should we eat to get more magnesium? In general, whole grains, vegetables (especially the green ones), legumes, seeds and nuts are the way to go.

And that brings us to the salad I tossed (har) together that boasts several magnesium-rich foods on the marquee: garam-masala-roasted cashews, curried black lentils, and spinach, along with sweet potato and a simple dressing. Not only does this salad have a sweet and spicy crunch, but it delivers approximately half the magnesium required daily by the average adult.

The salad recipe follows below, and here’s a few additional ways to add more of the magnificent mineral to your meals:

  • “Good morning blend” yogurt parfait from Rodale (here)
  • Poached egg with walnuts and spinach from Cooking Light (here)
  • No-bake molasses, dates, seed and nut bites from Oh My Veggies (here)
  • Jumbo prawns with balsamic-orange onions from Eating Well (here)
  • Grilled halibut with roasted tomatoes from Rodale (here)
  • Papaya avocado salad from Eating Well (here)

Spiced cashew, curried lentil and sweet potato salad

(4 servings, approx. 460 calories each)

Ingredients:
1 cup cashews (unsalted)
1 Tbs garam masala
3 Tbs orange juice, divided
½ cup dry black lentils
2 cups water
1 tsp curry powder
2 medium sweet potatoes
6-8 cups fresh spinach
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar

Roast the cashews: Heat the oven to 250F. Mix the cashews, garam masala and 1 Tbs orange juice in a bowl. Spread the cashews on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time.

Cook the lentils: Combine the lentils, water and curry powder in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20-22 minutes.

Cook the sweet potato: Pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork. Microwave each for 3 minutes on one side, then flip and microwave another 2-3 minutes.

Mix up the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar and remaining 2 Tbs orange juice in a small bowl.

Put it all together: Divide the spinach among four bowls. To that add ¼ cup of the roasted cashews, one fourth of the cooked lentils, ½ of a sweet potato (sliced/cubed), and ¼ of the dressing (roughly 1.5 Tbs).

 

A week on the side: new salads for the “thing, thing and thing” rule

“A thing, with a thing and a thing.” That’s how Tim, my husband, describes his meal philosophy. He doesn’t mean a plate of Dr-Seuss-themed foods, but rather a simple meal consisting of an entrée and a couple sides.

This came up because I tend toward all-in-a-bowl meals – big salads, stir fries, pasta loaded with veggies and seafood. Maybe it’s because our dinner table is small, or because I don’t like slogging through a billion dirty dishes, but give me a meal with minimal plateware and I’m good to go.

That won’t always cut it for Tim, though, so we’re often serving up our default sides: a spinach and carrot salad with soy sauce (me) or blue cheese dressing (him), and a slice of toast. But there are only so many times a person can eat the same salad night after night, so I went in search of some new Things 2 to accompany our Things 1.

I landed first on this edamame slaw from Diabetic Living, via Pinterest. I liked the sound of a mix of colorful produce, a shot of protein from the edamame, and sesame oil-based dressing. It wasn’t nearly as quick to throw together as out spinach-and-carrot deal, but it was a welcome change. The leftovers even made for a good refuel after this weekend’s 9-mile run.

Then I realized I needed a list of Things 1 through 7 to round out the usual week’s worth of recipes, so I dug this list up. Let me know if any of them help break you out of a salad rut (extra points for comments left in the style of Dr. Seuss):

  • Edamame slaw in lettuce cups from Diabetic Living (here)
  • Greens & green bean salad with blueberry dressing from Disease Proof (here)
  • Zucchini, mango & avocado salad with beet chips from Fueling Endurance Performance (here)
  • Brussel sprouts salad with warm bacon vinaigrette from Cooking Light (here)
  • Lentils with fennel, apple and herbs from Serious Eats (here)
  • Three-bean salad with jalapeno-cilantro vinaigrette from Cooking Channel (here)
  • Celery and parsley salad with golden raisins from Cooking Light (here)

Lettuce Week: Salads are great, but…

Lettuce  just get the pun out the way up front, so we can jump right in and make good use of the leafy green bounty in the spring garden.

From the Lynch Farm

I’m pretty thrilled that our little lettuce crop survived the bizarre hot-and-dry-then-rainy-and-cold spring, and didn’t end up as groundhog food. But now there’s the question of how to use all of it. We’ve been eating plenty of simple green salads, and tried a strawberry and goat cheese salad from Eating Well that was very tasty. Some of our lettuce also has ended up in tacos when we had make-your-own taco bar recently.

From there, though, I ran out of lettuce ideas besides just eating green salads for 27 days in a row. Thankfully, Teh Internets provided a week’s worth of recipes that make creative use of the leafy green stuff. Head past the jump for the list & a recent award.

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Stalking the Week: Waving the magical celery wand

Maybe it’s the wand-like shape of a celery stalk which suggests it is imbued with magical, “negative calorie” powers. Let’s just get this out of the way up front: it’s a myth that you burn more calories digesting celery than are actually in the celery itself. And nutritionally, it’s not really a big standout – there’s a reasonable amount of water and vitamin K in each stalk, but mostly it’s just a fiber delivery system.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy this relative of carrots and parsley for its other merits, like the crunchy texture and clean, distinctive flavor. Those firm green ribs stand up great to all sorts of dips and schmears, making celery a perennial favorite on the veggie-and-dip tray at parties. But there are several other ways to enjoy it, especially in crunchy salads with fruit or other veggies.

The recipe that got this all started for me was a vegan creamy celery soup in the recent issue of Vegetarian Times. But that recipe isn’t yet posted on their site, and I’m not a big fan of copyright infringement, so I can’t share it with you here. I did manage to find a very similar recipe from Pamela Goes Primal, however, linked in the recipe list at the end of this post.

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Cauliflower Week: The wallflower steps out

For me, things like kale, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, spinach, nut butters, beans, and carrots are always top of mind. They get scribbled onto our grocery list week in and week out, and their absence in the fridge or pantry is immediately noticed. But on the other end of the spectrum is a food that rarely emerges from the recesses of my edible memory, one that when I stumble upon a recipe using it, I honestly think, “Oh, right, people eat that.”

Cauliflower doesn’t really deserve the wallflower treatment – inside those nubbly white florets are the nutrients common to the cruciferous vegetable family to which it belongs. Plants in this family are rich in sulphoraphanes (or in cauliflower’s case, precursor glucosinolates), which are associated with a lower risk of many cancers. But what finally snapped my neck in cauliflower’s direction was not the nutrition nerdery, but a simple roasted cauliflower soup:

Thick, earthy, and crunchy with the hazelnut topping, this soup from Sprouted Kitchen was all that. The mushroom-y flavor makes no sense (because there are none in there), but it is fantastic. The leftovers were nearly turned into a 10:00 am lunch, I was so eager to dive back in.

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Can’t beet this Week

Jacksons Michael and Janet, Gloria Estefan, Public Enemy, and many more that will really date me – there are a lot of musical references that could lead into this week’s theme. But after a week of exams and a new volunteering gig, I’ve got decision fatigue like you wouldn’t believe. Since I couldn’t pick just one, humor me and hum the “beats” related song of your choice while gazing on these:

Are beets musical? No. Good source of vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and beneficial pigmented phytochemicals betalains and anthocyanins? Yes. Tasty when roasted, boiled, or even grated raw, and especially well-paired with earthy soft cheeses like brie or goat cheese? Oh, heck yes.

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Green on the red carpet: Kale Week

It probably won’t be found on the red carpet anytime soon, but green leafy kale certainly is a food superstar.

And we’re not talking one-hit wonder, either. Kale – a relative of cabbage – boasts a huge amount of vitamin K to help build bones and promote normal blood coagulation. It also contains good amounts of vitamins A, C, iron, and calcium. Carotenoids found in kale are essential for visual function, and some may protect against vision loss associated with aging. It provides fiber and a reasonable amount of protein, and several compounds in kale may be protective against several types of cancer.

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Eggplant Week: Agent Double-0 Aubergine

Who would have thought that a bulbous shape clad in shiny purple skin represents the cutting edge in radar-evading design?

Most weeks, I’ve told Tim (Mr Eating The Week) what theme I’m cooking up (get it?) for an upcoming blog post. But somewhere in the middle of coordinating babysitters, visiting friends for dinner, and our increasingly complicated workout schedules, I forgot to mention that eggplant (aka aubergine) would make repeated appearances on this week’s menu.

There’s no ulterior motive, like trying to fool Tim into eating something he doesn’t like. I promise he’s a fan of the purple beauties – after all, he planted the ones that recently ripened in our vegetable garden.

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The Missing Week: Fiber

Fun fact: for a year during middle school, I was a cheerleader. Pleated skirt, herkie jumps, the whole nine yards. Back then, I was cheering for our basketball team (go, Bulldogs!); but since then, I’ve focused my boosterism on an entirely different area.

If you can’t make out that scribble in my anatomy & physiology class notes, it says, “Yay colon!” I’ve researched it for work, read about it in school, and even toured it (twice!) when the Colossal Colon exhibit visited Boston many years ago.

Inside the Colossal Colon (photo by David Lapidus)

Sadly, not everyone shares my love for the large intestine. Why else would roughly half of North Americans fall short of their daily recommended fiber intake? (For reference, women should target 25 grams daily if under 50 years old, 21 grams if 50+; men should get 38 grams if under 50 years old, 30 if 50+) So why do we care? Head past the jump…

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