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Friday, March 28, 2014

Warming Up Your Salad Days

Salads make a great lunch.  For those who like the sexy feeling of a slender physique, salads are still supreme (when there is quality dressing in small amounts).  Cooling and full of vegetables, salads are a wholesome habit. The problem for many people, is their idea of what a salad is. 

Like any dish, it's all what you are exposed to that will bring an image into your mind.  So you maybe you think a bowl of boring lettuce, with a few raw bites on top is a salad.  That sounds like rabbit food to me too.  Some people think of a tiny stark plate with several stalks of asparagus and slivers of radish.  If you're having salad for main dish it can be a great big beautiful creation with lots of vegetables, a protein and even incorporate a grain.

If you are in Los Angeles right now, and it's 80 degrees and sunny, then salad with carrots, lettuce, tomato, avocado black beans and brown rice might sound pretty good.  If you are in Minnesota where more snow is expected despite spring showing up on the calendar, that might sound chilling.  So what can you do to mix things up and still get the lush benefits of a salad for lunch? (or dinner)

One solution is to leave the lettuce crunchy, but roast some of the heartier vegetables, like fennel and carrots.  Use a toaster oven with it's self timing switch and you can roast while doing other things and not worry about them.  Add a little fresh mint or thyme into the roasted vegetables when you toss with oil and a pinch of salt.  (400 degrees for 25 minutes in the toaster oven works great in a Pyrex dish.) Roasting is a warming cooking style and helps to balance the cooling ingredients like lettuce.

Another salad might be chopping green onions and carrots and mixing them into hot, just cooked quinoa.  Serve on a bed of greens and topped with fish, chicken or seitan.    Mix things up like spring does with some warm, some cool, and enjoy your salads by being playful with constantly changing the ingredients. 

You'll be so happy in your body when bikini season rolls around, and won't feel a bit of guilt when you want to indulge in some of your favorite treats.  These are your salad days...

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