Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary
I`ll admit it: I`m only a recent convert to the salad. I used to hate leafy things. Well, I`ve always loved brussel sprouts and spinach, which I`ve long been assured shows hints of my inner insanity. What toddler gobbles that stuff?I don`t see why brussel sprouts aren`t loved by all children, actually, as it is really fun to unwrap them. It`s like a little present for the dinner plate!
But besides for my long term veggie soul mates, I`ve hated salad. The leafy end of the veggie world was seldom visited by me, and I used to eat three leaves or so to fulfill my mother`s dinner salad requirements. Real effective source of fiber, I know. I lost this little bit of greenery around seventh grade, when my first pet was a guinea pig named Markers, and a rather sickly child of hers named Gigi. (Gigi lasted only that year and ended with bronchitis, but Markers lived until the earthquake last Summer shocked her. Don`t worry, she came to me when she was already four years old, so she was pretty ancient by the time she was gone!)
But sometime in the middle of senior year I had a bit of a break through. I still didn`t like salad, but I decided it was a necessary thing. I started finding ways to force it down, and after a lot of misgivings, I grew to really appreciate it when seeds were added to the mix. My friends are always joking that I have a secret dream to be a bird, as I ate so many light meals so frequently, and I seem to always have a few seeds lying around!
I`ve started to actually like my salad, and I have developed this odd addiction of having a bowl full of salad whenever I watch a sad movie. I eat it with my hands, like a bag of chips, but there`s no real need to do the roasting and flavoring many bloggers do for their kale. (my salad mixes don`t contain kale, as I still haven`t converted for the spicier greens) It`s kind of a guilty pleasure to eat it in such an uncivilized manner. I think the pint of ice cream is starting to get jealous!
1. Vietnamese Summer rolls. I particularly like my remixed version, but we`ll get to that post when Phyllis is feeling better. (I caved and just bought a new charger- but it hasn`t arrived yet. It is pretty ridiculous that I haven`t been able to post my own pictures this whole time!) Shrimp is classic, but here is a bit of a twist with kohlrabi, from Havedessertfirst.
2. Sushi handrolls. You also get to skip some of the carbs and simple sugars of all the other rice you’d be eating in rolled sushi, which would be fine if your body wad adapted to that BUT my ancestors come from hunter gatherer stock. I like these fancy Malaysian handrolls, or an easier to buy for asian fusion asparagus salmon handroll from Marissa Bagget`s blog.
3 Veggie soups with tons of veggies thrown in. I love Chow`s recipe for butternut squash soup, but I think it works better with some more veggies thrown in for some flavor variation. I like the addition of parsnips, celery, and pumpkin seeds.
4. A rawtarian entree. These things are made up of salad ingredients, but are purposely crafted to taste as good as normal food, so that it can be part of someone`s full diet 24-7. I personally am a huge fan of veggie lasagna, like this recipe from Rawmazing.
5. A salad! I know it`s basic, and not really hiding the salad at all. But you can always spruce them up by making things a little crazy. I threw some shrimp, lime, and mint in with a lettuce mix for lunch today, and it was really awesome!
I don`t recommend just going for the green juice, as it actually isn’t good for most people! Some people’s systems are made so they can easily metabolize sugars, but many people, including myself, need to go low sugar to lose or maintain their weight. Besides, when you drink your ‘ virtuous’ green smoothie, you are often having the same amount of sugar as a piece of cake. Wouldn’ t you rather have an actual dessert? The problem with your smoothie gets worse: all of that prized fiber goes right out the door!
I know, some people keep the fibrous shavings to throw into other foods as a thickening, but why not just get some unadulterated veggies in there? I promise they really do taste good, especially the fresh kind. I remember being so shocked when I ate my first store bought spinach, it tasted nothing like the goodies we got as souveniers each weekend when we used to visit my grandparents hobby farm. Too bad they moved a few states away. Now, we have found that frequent trips through the countryside and visits to the farmer`s markets are almost as good sources of real produce. It is very healing to the city battered soul, as well.
Another downside is that that beautiful green shake is usually stuffed with fruits. Why do you need help getting more fruit into your diet? It is already sweet, and tasty, and sugary, and I just have a piece or two a day like cake. Because it really is the same amount of sugar as cake, and tastes just as good. Better, if the kind of cake your`ve been eating is that cloyingly sweet stuff that has a basic American (meaning specifically the U.S.) butter cream frosting. I just think that is a little icky. Or, well, not the frosting itself, just the fact that there seems to be an inch thick of it on most bakery and store bought versions, and it seems to be just as bad when home made.
I`ll be honest, I do actually drink the occasional green smoothie. They do taste good, and are a great contender with other treat beverages like sparkling cider, lemonade, orange juice, and sodas-which I don`t particularly like, and don`t often waste sugar count on them. It`s just silly to think of them [green smoothies] as some harbinger of glowing vitality. They are treats, and usually have about the same amount of sugar as sodas. (A fact which, it is important to note, applies to most every juice, smoothie, and other similar creation. Fruits are naturally very sugary, they are only healthy in small dose because of the great quantity of fiber they have in their natural form.)
Actually, I ate all of the above yesterday. A side salad for breakfast seems pretty weird, but so is cold pizza and dessert. And who can honestly say they`ve done neither? I promise you, if you`ve ever had a pastry, or doughnuts, most modern versions of ‘muffins’ (which are really unfrosted cupcakes, and some are so outrageous they include the frosting as well!), or even pancakes, you`ve had dessert for breakfast! Yummy, but one of those little treats in life. I`m starting to learn that the satisfying crunch of romaine and the feathery feeling of some of the fancier lettuce varieties is in itself a lovely treat.
Mmm. The poetry found everywhere in life. But to think today`s would be hidden in my meals!
So I now love salad. I think you will, too, after trying out a few of my ideas. And the fact that most of my recommendations are not technically in the salad family? What my friends don`t know, won`t distress them. You can follow that bit of logic yourself, or you could just blow caution to the winds and breeze into your office/class tomorrow, announcing that you shirk from the confines of tradition and have salad in hand roll form. More power to you, man. More power to you.
What suggestions do you have to lead others on the path towards salad conversion? What tricks have you used if you yourself are a salad convert? And what is your favorite salad recipe in general?