After a brief break…some salad!

After the long weekend, I’m back on track. My weight bounced up a couple of pounds while I enjoyed a weekend at the Beach House owned by my friends and partners-in-crime, but a good day yesterday fortified by a run and I’m back on track. I’ve also used up my very last Optifast shake, instead of eating my usual big lunch salad yesterday.

Speaking of salads, they can be horribly deceptive and as “diet food” they are not always all they are cracked up to be.  One of the most enlightening exercises I did when I was first learning to manage my weight was to write down everything I’d eat in a normal day before I’d started working on weight management, and add up the calories based on my new-found knowledge of food and portions. I was shocked to discover that the “healthy” salad I had regularly eaten from the company cafeteria approached 800 calories! I thought anything that came on a bed of lettuce would be diet food but once they’d added in the dried cranberries, honeyed walnuts, blue cheese, bacon, creamy dressing, croutons, etc, it was a diet nightmare. Now, any of those foods on their own and in moderation, may be a perfectly honest weight management choice. But they were not in moderation, and in combination they packed a massive caloric punch and I was clueless. Couldn’t understand how I could be eating healthy but still not lose any weight. Because I didn’t have a basic understanding of caloric density and portion control.

All that being said, I make a good salad. I’m almost always put on salad detail in my house, despite my cooking aversion, because I make a nice one. I’ve spent a lot of years with salads, and most restaurant salads leave me disappointed. Here’s my quick, easy salad:

  • Bed of interesting lettuce*/spinach/greens
  • diced tomatoes
  • carrots shredded in the Cuisinart (ain’t nobody got time for hand-shredding carrots)
  • jicama shredded in the Cuisinart (see above)
  • diced up apple if I’m feeling saucy
  • sprouts if I have any and everybody eating the salad agrees (sprouts seem to be a polarizing item)
  • some feta cheese crumbled over the top (yum! not too much though…)

And then, because it hasn’t occurred to me to buy pre-made salad dressing in over 10 years, I make salad dressing. This is a pretty basic, simple balsamic vinaigrette recipe that’s been serving me well for years:

  • 1 clove garlic crushed or diced finely
  • 1 part olive/sesame/truffle/whatever-kind-of oil I’m in the mood for
  • 3 parts balsamic vinegar
  • spoonful of grey poupon or whatever kind of dijon mustard I have on hand (I prefer the finely ground type for this recipe to the ones where you can see the seeds)
  • small spoonful of sugar, less is usually better as I don’t like sweet dressings
  • IF I feel like it, I may add a dash of soy sauce

I don’t measure anything, just eyeball it, which is why I can’t give you exact measurements on the ingredients, but if you try it a few times you’ll find that it’s hard to screw it up. I put all the dressing ingredients in a little jar and shake it up then pour over the salad and mix the whole thing together (I like pre-dressed salads with good dressing saturation, also this way the feta mixes with the dressing for a really nice, tasty cheesy coating).

Weight this morning: 190. Still making progress.

*Iceberg lettuce is an abomination. Don’t make your salads with it unless you want to be disappointed. Use red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, Romaine, escarole, spinach…there are so many tasty varieties of lettuce and leafy greens out there, why punish yourself  and your salad by using tasteless, bland iceberg lettuce?


4 Responses to “After a brief break…some salad!”

  1. Karen Williams Says:

    Great salad recipe. My husband makes a wonderful salad starting with broccoli, with all of the clusters broken apart so it’s almost like leaves of lettuce. He makes wonderful salads in general, and makes his own vinaigrette. You should compare recipes. (We also have bacon in our salads, but it’s really good bacon, sometimes homemade.)

    As for lettuce, I discovered I love arugula, which surprised me because I find iceberg lettuce uncomfortably bitter. Also, the leaves of the fava bean plants are delicious (even our cat vociferously agrees).

    • Laina Says:

      I’m positive that your husband makes a delicious salad, because I’ve tasted his other food. 🙂 Also I learned my vinaigrette recipe from an Englishman, so maybe it’s a Thing over there to make your own.
      I didn’t even know fava bean leaves were edible. I’m dying to try that now!

  2. fairegoddess Says:

    My basic salad is romaine and spinach, hardboiled egg, mushrooms, red onion, tomato, kidney beans, bell pepper, and sauteed marinated tofu. I’ve been making a cilantro lime dressing lately that’s pretty awesome, with lots of flavor!

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