You Don’t Win Friends With Salad

Eat more salad, they told me.

And yet the whole time, this clip from a older episode of The Simpsons (Lisa the Vegetarian first aired in 1995) was running through my head:

I’m not opposed to eating vegetables. I’m not opposed to eating salad. I just thought, previously, that I was doing ok with my ratio of food-type consumption.

First, a Dietician told me that I needed more leafy greens in my diet. Then, a Natuopathic Doctor. It took two professionals to set me on the right track.

And you know what? 9 months later I can honestly say it’s been a long time since I’ve felt as good as I do now. It’s not just that I eat salad. I made a lot of dietary changes. But salads have probably been the biggest change and the most challenging to integrate. At first, ideas for salad didn’t come naturally. And they don’t always now, but it’s getting easier. I have to meal plan. I have to make new choices at the grocery store.

I had to decide it was time for a change.

I’ve learned to embrace salads as a daily food choice, as part of my meal planning, and part of my grocery budget.

Know what else? I’ve won friends with salad.

I’m slowly becoming known as the friend with all the salad ideas. People have mentioned that my constant barrage of salad pictures on Instagram inspires their own salad-making!

Guacamole

Guacamole, or “whack-a-mole” as we often refer to it at home, is probably one of my all-time favourite foods. And it’s was one of the few Mexican foods I can could eat since taking some food-related irritants out of my diet (more on that another time though). I can still eat this, but I have to be more careful about how much and how often I indulge.

One of the things I love about making this dish, is that it’s very versatile. That is, there are a few necessary staples. And everything else can be added according to preference, or what you happen to have on hand (You can even easily divide a single batch into portions to accomodate everyone’s taste preferences).

Me? I add a bit of everything! I love my guacamole with LOTS of tomatoes and garlic. And only a bit of heat. And a good amount of fresh cilantro.

S has similar tastes, but likes fewer tomatoes and more jalapeno. And NO cilantro. Sometimes I sneak in a bit of dried cilantro because the flavour is mild.

I think he might be one of the unfortunate few who taste soap…

Ingredients

  • 5 small Hass avocados
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Flour tortillas to make chips

Optional ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • Fresh cilantro

Substitutions

  • Lime: 1-2 tablespoons of concentrated lime juice
  • Hass avocados: Jamaican avocados (the taste is milder)
  • Fresh cilantro: Dried cilantro has a much milder flavour
  • Vine-ripened tomatoes: Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Flour tortillas: Corn chips or naan bread

Directions

  1. Prepare all of the add-ins: mince the garlic, chop tomatoes, slice an onion, juice a lime. Have everything EXCEPT the avocado ready to go.
  2. If you’re making your own tortillas into chips, slice your tortillas now and toss them in the oven to crisp up. Watch them closely so they don’t burn. If you’re using a bag of chips, open them up and put them in a fancy serving bowl.
  3. Slice and scoop the avocado from the husk.
  4. Mash it! I like to use a potato masher.
  5. This is a good time to divide into portions if you want to make a few different combinations.
  6. Add the fixings (garlic, salt, lime, and anything else you’ve prepared).
  7. If you like the dip chunky, mix it quickly and you’re done! If you like the dip smooth, mash it up some more before serving.
  8. Serve with chips.

Storage tips

  1. Reserve the avocado pit and put it in any leftover guacamole.
  2. Add a bit of extra lime juice on top of the dip, don’t mix it in.
  3. Cover the leftovers with a piece of plastic wrap that is placed directly on top of the dip, smooth it down to push out any air bubbles.
  4. Store it in an opaque container so no light gets in.

Dairy-Free Creamy Mushroom Soup

At home, I try to cook without dairy, but it’s generally not the end of the world if I eat some — in moderation — while out. And by moderation I mean some butter on the food, a splash of milk, or a nibble of cheese. But I wouldn’t eat a creamy soup.

Avoiding dairy seems really restricting at times. Passing up homemade cheesecake at family functions is the worst. And I always hesitate before saying no to whipped cream.

A few weeks ago I had a craving for one of those dairy-filled foods that I had almost completely forgotten about. Cream of mushroom soup! (Which is weird to me because I refused to eat mushrooms as a child, and couldn’t eat the dairy by the time I was an adult)

Anyway, I set out to make a dairy-free version, which could easily be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock.

My initial thoughts:

  • I made wayyyy too much. I had satisfied the craving by the third bowl of soup and didn’t want to eat any more. I would divide the recipe in half next time.
  • A variety of mushrooms would have made the soup more flavourful.
  • I would make this again, but as an appetizer, not a stand alone meal.

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds mushrooms (I used regular white mushrooms because they were on sale. Next time I would use a mixture. Maybe some shiitake, oyster, enoki and crimini)
  • 1 spanish onion, diced
  • 2 cans of coconut cream
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Directions

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to frying pan and sautee the onion until translucent, then set aside.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to frying pan and sautee the mushrooms, then set aside.
  3. When onions are cooled, blend with 1 cup of the chicken stock. Add a bit more chicken stock if needed to blend until smooth.
  4. When mushrooms are cooled, blend with 3 cups of the chicken stock. Add coconut cream if needed to blend until smooth.
  5. Add blended onions and mushrooms to a cooking pot. Add any remaining coconut cream and the thyme.
  6. Cook until hot, then serve and enjoy!

Beet and Wild Rice Salad

For me, this recipe screams Fall! Thanksgiving! Family time! One of my aunts makes a variation of this salad for family get togethers. This is a copycat version of her recipe.

The original recipe calls for regular feta cheese, if you prefer.

My family uses Black Duck Wild Rice, from Peterborough, Ontario. This rice is roasted with maple wood and makes your entire home smell absolutely amazing!

Beet and Wild Rice Salad

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Ingredients

  • Beets
  • Wild rice
  • Dill (fresh), chopped
  • Goat feta cheese, crumbled
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Maple syrup

Directions

  1. Cook beets and wile rice at the same time. Boil the beets until cooked through, and cook wild rice according to directions (I made about 12 beets + 1 cup of wild rice).
  2. Rub beets with a paper towel to remove the skin (and wear rubber gloves so you don’t dye your hands). Seriously, this works really well and there is less waste than if you try to peel with a pairing knife.
  3. Slice beets into bite-sized pieces and add to wild rice.
  4. Add dill and goat feta cheese, then stir.
  5.  Mix the vinaigrette (2 parts olive oil, 2 parts balsamic vinegar, 1 part maple syrup).
  6. Pour vinaigrette over salad.
  7. Enjoy warm or chill in the fridge and serve later!