Fave Fridays – Keeping it Simple

I love salad!

I can envision all the eyes rolling.

But before you think I’m getting all “Nutritionist” on you and up in your face with my veggie loving ways, I just have to say that this love stems way back to my roots, long before I consciously went down this path.

When I was younger, I was never one of those picky eaters who wouldn’t eat her vegetables. That was my brother. I was the one with the “healthy appetite”, as my parents liked to tell people. I think I inherited my love for vegetables from my dad, who was known for making hearty salads and robust vegetable soups. In fact, I have many fond memories of patiently waiting at the kitchen table in anticipation while my dad whipped up a big salad for us to share. My mom and brother on the other hand never really shared the same appreciation for this type of meal.

Flashback to today, my love for salad has only grown bigger. In fact I love huge salads that eat like meals, especially now that the weather is getting warmer and the spring bounty is cropping up into grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

Just like the seasons, our desires for food are also cyclical in nature. I know in the winter I crave more cooked and warming foods which tend to be a little more dense, while come spring and summer I tend to gravitate towards cleansing foods like raw fruits and veggies which are naturally lighter. We need to trust our intuition in knowing that the foods that serve us in the cooler months, might not lend the same effect come spring and summertime. Sometimes we just have to trust that our bodies will tell us what it truly needs. Unfortunately, if we are numbed by the effects of the Standard American Diet, otherwise known as the SAD diet (which it truly is), you may not be getting the message!

Here’s a look at one of my favourite salads that is super satisfying and very simple to prepare. I have to say I’ve been eating this a lot lately because I truly enjoy it that much!

My Favourite salad!

I start with a big bowl of green leafy lettuce – lately I’ve been using red leaf lettuce.

Next I cut up whatever vegetables I have on-hand. Sometimes it will be as simple as crispy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes, while other times I’ll include spring onion, mushrooms and colourful bell pepper. I also like to throw in sprouts – alfalfa works nice here. Or pea shoots, pictured in my salad above. Furthermore, I’ll throw in some fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley or cilantro.

Next comes the best part. I top it with one whole chopped avocado. This is what makes this salad a truly satisfying meal, and one that can easily satiate my appetite come mealtime. Because I spend most of the day in an office environment behind a desk, I really don’t like to eat heavily for my mid-day meal. I find a lighter meal leaves me feeling much more energized and allows for a more productive work-day. By the same token, I also often enjoy this meal for dinner, but depending on my appetite I might throw something else into the mix such as a baked sweet potato if I feel like a bit more.

For this simple salad, I like to top it with a simple dressing. Homemade of course and never bottled!

In fact, bottled salad dressings are one of those things that I suggest people boycott completely. Why take a perfectly healthy salad and drench it with chemical preservatives, artificial flavours and processed fats? Avoid them even if they are low-fat or fat-free! In fact, these types of dressings are oftentimes more offensive to the body than their full-fat counterparts. Besides, making your own dressing is super simple.

In order to make a good salad dressing at home, all you need to include is 3 things – an acid, a sweet and a fat. Three ingredients – that’s it! Further flavourings can be added by using chopped garlic, dried or fresh herbs, and a little sea salt. But these additions are all based on preference.

For example, when eating the above salad, I like to make the following dressing. For the acid component I use the juice of one whole lemon, although you may prefer to use your favourite vinegar. For the sweet I opt for a packet of Stevia, which is a natural sweetener with almost zero calories and won’t affect blood sugar. You can find it in your local health food store in either liquid or packets. And for the fat, well in this case since I’ve topped my salad with avocado it’s not really necessary to add any oil. If I were to eat this salad sans the avocado, however, then I would include a little extra-virgin olive oil. The same goes for cheese and nuts. If I include a little goat cheese or a handful of slivered almonds on my salad, I find I can skip the oil and instead just do an acid/sweet based dressing with lots of fresh chopped herbs and a little sea salt.

Here’s to keeping it simple!

Elaine

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