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how to make an epic salad

Thanks for all the sweet and encouraging comments on yesterday’s posts.  Every single comment on this blog truly means so much to me!

Today has been pretty uneventful really…I’ve spent the morning working away on the blog and Outbox stuff, breaking just long enough for breakfast and lunch.   I do, however, have a new “eats” page at the top to show for it – so go check it out if you get the chance!

Jon and I did go out for a run this morning, which unfortunately turned into a half run half walk.  We intended to crank out 3 quick miles, but the return of the heat and humidity plus Jon running late for work got the best of us.  I think we may start hitting up the treadmill for our short runs until this heat lets up a little bit.  I am not a big fan of the treadmill, but I’m even less of a fan of sweltering heat.

Breakfast this morning was one of my all-time favorites

Cinnamon raisin Ezekiel muffin with 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter and half a sliced banana

And lunch was one of my favorites from last year.  When I was a teacher, I would make my lunch before I went to bed every night.  A version of this salad was one of quickest, easiest, healthiest and most popular meals I ever took!  Popular because several of my coworkers would always ooh and ahh over it’s color and beauty.  Now that I am at home for many lunches, I don’t make it as much, seeing as how I don’t have to worry about being on-the-go…but today it was resurrected!

So, in honor of our last few weeks of summer, here is a quick little tutorial on how to create an awesome salad.  Salads don’t have to be just lettuce. I’ll be the first one to say “I don’t like salads” if we’re talkin’ lettuce and a few tomatoes thrown on top. I know some people really dig that, but for me – they’ve got to be loaded with different flavors, textures and colors to be enjoyable and to keep me going throughout the afternoon.  So, here we go.

Pick your base

  • spinach
  • spring mix
  • romaine
  • kale

*Next, chop your greens and put them in a large bowl. This salad could get big, so leave plenty of room:)  I always chop mine up because I want every bite of salad to have a bit of everything.  Plus, I try to avoid shoving giant lettuce leaves in my mouth in front of my lunch buddies (which granted, now mainly include Olive).

Choose and chop your veggies. I like my salads to be bulky.  Lettuce really ends up being a smallish part of the overall masterpiece.  But you definitely want to create volume by tossing in lots of different veggies.  I usually use anywhere between 3 and 5 of the options below.

  • squash
  • zucchini
  • mushrooms
  • artichoke hearts (a must in my opinion!)
  • onions
  • celery
  • carrots
  • bell pepper
  • broccoli
  • snow peas
  • sprouts
  • corn
  • cold peas
  • asparagus
  • beets, shredded
  • green onions
  • tomatoes

Choose your protein. Every good salad has to have protein.  I’m going to stick to vegetarian suggestions.  For beans, I usually add in about 1/3 – 1/2 of a cup.  Sometimes I’ll go with 2 different types of beans and add 1/4 cup of each.

  • beans (kidney, black, chick peas, navy etc)
  • chopped egg
  • nuts (sliced almonds, walnuts etc)
  • tempeh
  • tofu

Choose your healthy fat.

  • avocado
  • nuts/seeds
  • olive oil

Choose your dressing.  Now we all know that a bad dressing can ruin the most healthy and delicious salad.  The great thing is that with all the flavorful elements you’re adding to this salad, you don’t need much of a dressing!  Here are a few of my personal favorites – just to add a bit of moisture.

  • balsamic vinegar, straight up.  I poor on about 1-2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and call it a day.  It adds the perfect amount of flavor, in my opinion.
  • olive oil
  • lime or lemon juice
  • salsa
  • hummus

And now for what I consider to be the best and final add ins. These are things that really add a huge punch of flavor or texture.

  • dried fruit without added sugar (cranberries are my favorite)
  • chia seeds
  • fresh fruit (apples, mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, pears, grapes)
  • seasonings – sometimes just a sprinkle of ground red pepper or oregano can add the perfect touch

Now that all of your ingredients are in a huge bowl, it’s time to mix it up!

This is one of the most important steps because if you just add everything onto a plate, layer by layer, then you won’t get a little bit of every ingredient in most bites.  And we definitely cannot deal with that.  So mix it up really, really well!

Lastly, dump it all out either onto a plate or in a to-go container. Now off you go with a super healthy, filling and tasty lunch that will make you the envy of everyone you know! ha.


Note: obviously some of these suggested ingredients can serve for more than one category.  For instance, olive oil could serve as your healthy fat and your dressing.  Or chia seeds could serve as a fun, crunchy add on or as a source of healthy fat or protein.  You get the picture.

If you’re someone who is always in a hurry when making lunch like I was was, I suggest using some time on the weekend to pre-chop your veggies that need it (rocket science, right?).  Then reserve a small space on one shelf of your fridge for “salad fixins.”  That way, when you get ready to create your salad, everything is ready to go – you can just snatch it out of the fridge, toss in a little of this and a little of that, throw a lid on it and go!

Along with creating this salad for lunch today, I also made a new and improved batch of hummus.

Spicy Garlic Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper

Directions

  • toss everything into a food processor minus 1 tsp minced garlic and process until smooth
  • transfer hummus to a small bowl and add remaining tsp of garlic to the very center
  • garnish with a sprinkle of ground red pepper

Well, I’m off to have a (hopefully) productive afternoon!  See you all later;)

What is your favorite salad topping?

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signing off + giveaway winner

Hey!

Today has been busy, busy, but I think I’ve gotten everything accomplished – at least the things that were crucial!  Now I’m scrambling around trying to finish getting packed and out the door.

As promised, I definitely filled up on veggies at lunch.

whole wheat lavash wrap filled with squash, cucumber, broccoli slaw, pinto beans, hummus, sliced pear (why not?!) and balsamic vinegar

Kind of an odd combo, but tasty.  Too bad you couldn’t have seen me eating it – it was an absolute mess, falling apart like crazy and broccoli slaw going everywhere!  I also had a side of leftover roasted brussel sprouts.

Okay, I gotta run.  We have to drop Olive off at a friend’s house for the night and hit the road!

But first I’ve got to announce the winner of the Operation Beautiful book!  The winner was chosen using random number generator from random.org.

PR_Cal

This week has inspired me. I’m going to make some positive changes and would love a copy of the book to help.

My post-it is:
My body relies on me for nourishment, I will be there for it.

Congrats, and I hope you enjoy the book!  Email me (candice@chiaseedme.com) your contact information, and I’ll get it shipped to you!

Thanks to all of you who entered!  I highly recommend picking up a copy of the book if you haven’t already – it truly is a great read.

I’ll see you all in Chicago!  Have a great night!

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a crazy week: part II

Hey hey!

First things first, and then I’ll pick up where I left off earlier today.

Trust me, I don’t want to keep you in suspense any longer than necessary;)

After my stint at the bookstore this morning, I actually managed to get some stuff accomplished!  After much debating I decided to start with Be Happy Without Being Perfect. So far it’s really insightful.  I’m recognizing a lot of stuff about myself since I quit my job and actually have time to process.  I’ll be writing a more extensive post on this topic once I have time to get through more of the book and think over everything a bit more.  Good stuff though!

Anyway, between reading, blogging and working on my PiYo class I managed to work up quit an appetite! Actually, I was ravenous!  I think it had something to do with the caffeine from earlier…

Either way I needed something, and I needed it quick!

bird bowl courtesy of my lovely sister as an early birthday present (my bday is not until the 10th:)

I went with a bowl of Amy’s reduced sodium vegetable lentil soup – my favorite!

A little while later, the hunger monster struck again, so I decided to whip up something special!

Since trying to cut back on our budget, I’ve decided to start making my own hummus.  Jon and I eat hummus like it’s goin’ out of style, so I figured it’d be a good place to start.

I started off with dry chickpeas (the cheapest and cleanest way to buy ‘em!).  I brought a large pot of water to a boil, dumped in 2 cups of chickpeas, removed the pot from the heat and let them soak for about an hour.  After soaking, I drained them, returned them to the pot with fresh water and brought them to a simmer, leaving them for another hour.  Perfect!

Classic Garlic Hummus


Ingredients

2 cups cooked chickpeas
juice of one lemon
3 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2-3 tsp minced garlic (we like our hummus super garlicky!)
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
4 tbsp water – I will probably use more next time
paprika (to garnish)
parsley (to garnish)

Directions

1.  Combine all ingredients excluding paprika and parsley into food processor and process until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides.

2.  Continue to add water until you reach desired consistency.  One thing I noticed is that my hummus thickened up a bit once I put it in the fridge – just fyi.

3.  Eat up!

adapted from Angela’s recipe

I partook in plenty of taste testing during the making of this hummus.   I also snacked on canteloupe.

do you sprinkle salt and pepper on your canteloupe??  It’s the best way! IMHO:)

And now for the best news of the day – the husband got a bonus at work! yay!  Way to go husband!

It’s no secret that we use anything as an excuse to go out and celebrate.  So off we went to one of our fave little cafes – Cafe Bella.

As usual I ordered the garden veggie with guac and hummus

and the husband ordered the falafel pita

I ended up a bit jealous and stole a couple of bites:)  I never lean toward ordering falafel, but every time I encounter it I love it!  What gives?!

Okay, now that the eats are out of the way, let’s pick up where we left off earlier, shall we?

So, we made it back to the ramp and began the process of loading the boat.  Due to very poor engineering on the part of the resort, loading the boat was not an easy task.  There is virtually no protection whatsoever from the wide open lake, so at this point we were taking a direct hit from the white topped waves as they crashed into the cove.  After much distress, the boat getting caught on something under the water and my sister very nearly losing her life (or at least a limb), we got the boat loaded and pulled out of the water, only to realize…

the tire on the boat trailer was flat!!  What now?  It is now lightening and thundering like crazy, and we can see the sheets of rain in the distance, inching closer and closer, threatening to drown is in the midst of our desperation.

We did the only thing we could do – began to slowly creep up the road, hobbling on one good tire in a desperate attempt to reach the free air station.

Just before the monsoon started we were able to figure out how to work the thing (the station was closed up tight!) and get enough air in the tire to make the 10 minute drive back to our cabin. We were SO thankful we made the last minute command decision to come in…it would not have been pretty otherwise!

Despite the rain, things seemed to be making a turn for the better as we curled up in the cabin, waiting for nighttime to envelope us in it’s sleepy grasp.

What we didn’t know is that we were in for an uncomfortably long night…

Stay tuned for part three tomorrow:)

Do you sprinkle salt and pepper on your canteloupe?  Or is that weird to you?  I say perfectly normal, the husband says weird:)
What odd food combination do you love?

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a savory morning

As I mentioned a few days ago, I have been craving savory breakfasts!  I used to live on oatmeal, yogurt or cereal for my early morning meal, but lately the sweets just aren’t doin’ it for me.

On my way home from piyo this morning (and admittedly a bit during) I started brainstorming breakfast.  I knew I wanted something savory, but I wasn’t really feeling eggs.  I contemplated hummus and toast…and then suddenly it hit me.

Savory oats.

I think I first got the idea for savory oats from Angela.  But honestly, I really didn’t think I could go there.  “There “meaning…to a world where we mix things like black beans and veggies with oats.  So, if you feel repulsed by this idea (ahem, Jon), don’t worry.  One day you’ll find yourself pondering what to eat for breakfast, and boom, it’ll hit you too.  Maybe:)

I immediately went to work.  First, I sauteed some swiss chard and corn in a skillet with garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper.

Next I mixed up some humnut sauce by combining a couple tablespoons of hummus with about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and some water for thinning.

Meanwhile, I cooked 1/3 cup of oats in 3/4 cup of water for a minute and thirty seconds in the micro.  Watch ‘em closely so they don’t overflow!

Lastly, I mixed the humnut sauce in with the oats, which created a cheesy, creamy consistency.  It was at this point that I started feeling pretty dang good about this recipe:)  mmmmm.

Once the chard and corn were finished, I laid them on top of the cheesy oats….and sprinkled on some chia seeds!

Barely able to contain herself next to the creamy oaty goodness:)

After our little photo shoot, I took my first bite and….

it was fantastic!  But still missing something.

How about some homemade salsa?

There…that’s it.

While savory oats aren’t my favorite breakfast ever, I definitely will be making them again and trying new variations! If you’re having trouble with the whole idea, just think of the oats as a grain rather than a breakfast food.  You wouldn’t think twice about adding humnut sauce and greens to bulgur or quinoa, would you?

Before I go, I’d like to say a huge thank you to my sweet blog friend, Heather from Where’s the Beach, for passing on the Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger award.

The rules of this award are to tell 10 little known facts about myself and pass it on to three to five other bloggers.  So, here goes!

1.  I learned to ride a bike when I was 3 (no training wheels!)
2.  I used a pacifier until I was 4…get the picture?
3.  I played basketball from the age of 5 to 18
4   I am obsessed with anything that has birds on it
5.  I flew in an airplane for the first time when I was 20 years old
6.  I am a clean fanatic.  I absolutely hate being dirty.  worked out great in Thailand:)

don’t judge;)

7.  I am a chapstick fiend.  As my husband says “you are obsessively freaky about it”
8.  I changed my major five times in college
9.  I love rainy days more than sunny days
10. I never get tired of spending time with my husband

I pass this award on to

Sarah at Gluten Free Tries Vegan

Sarah is one of my very favorite blog friends…if you haven’t visited her blog…go NOW!

What do you think about savory oats?  Can you “just not go there?”  Or is your mouth watering just thinking about them?

Tonight Jon and I received a special visitor who will be staying with us until Sunday.  Can you guess who it is?

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comfort food + chia giveaway winners revealed

Jon and I had great intention of running a 5k this morning, but we have a bad habit of chattin’ it up so much that our running suffers.  We ended up running/walking 2.54 miles in about 35 minutes .  Obvs. there was a lot of walking involved.  o’well…at least we were up and moving!

By the time we got back, I had to rush around to get out the door on time!

green monster to-go please!!

2 handfuls spinach, 1.25 cups soy milk, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop Amazing Grass, 1 tbsp natural peanut butter, chia seeds, ice

Need. Bigger. Cup. (I’m hardcore like that;)

After my orthodontist appointment (hi, I’m Candice and I’m 13 years old) I ran through S-bucks for a decaf soy latte.  I have cut down on my Starbucks runs exponentially; it’s funny how much better it tastes when it’s a rare treat. Totally worth every last cent today.

After a quick stop at the mall to do an exchange, I headed home for lunch.  Sweet Jon had it all prepared for me

Sunflower sprouts make their debut!  hooray!

whole wheat pita with hummus, Morningstar black bean burger, broccoli slaw and sunflower sprouts

with a side of juicy watermelon that I picked up last night

one of my thousand new obsessions.

And several hours of work later I dug into this new container of Sabra hummus with baby carrots.  Does anybody know how baby carrots came to be?  Do they grow them that way?  Curious minds want to know!

love me some carrots and hummus

Tonight I was in the mood for some comfort food because I received some bad news.  The ESL teaching job I told you guys I landed last week fell through. She called today and said that there had been some kind of hiring freeze and that they weren’t going to be able to hire me after all.  Sad:(  It hit me pretty hard because I was counting on that being a sure thing when I resigned from my job.

I’m trying to stay positive regardless of what happens.  I know that God will provide, and I know everything will work out for the best…I just have to have faith.

Someone quoted the following on twitter last week.  Please tell me if you know who it was because I can’t find where I wrote it down!

“This week shall rock!  I’m going to hold steady and strong at not digging up in doubt what I planted in full on faith.”

This has been my mantra since I read it last week…I keep repeating it to myself every time I start to sink into doubt.  I can’t lose hope the second things don’t go as expected.

Onwards and Upwards!

So, back to the comfort food.  I’ll give you 1 guess as to what comfort food was calling out to me.

You got it

Our specialty: homemade enchiladas.

  • Whole wheat tortilla
  • black beans
  • rotel tomatoes
  • soy cheese
  • Roll tortillas up and place in a baking dish
  • Pour canned green enchilada sauce over entire dish
  • Bake to perfection at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes

**We make six at a time because they are great for leftovers!

All jokes aside about our obsession with Mexican food...if you like enchiladas, you MUST make these.  They are like biting into a little piece of heaven.  No kidding.  You can make any variation – spinach, beans, cheese and onion or a mix of all three!  Let me know if you try them out, and I’ll post ‘em on the blog!

In an effort to save money this month, I decided to make a big batch of homemade salsa since we eat it like it’s goin’ out of style.  Below is the recipe I came up with tonight, but I think it still has room for improvement.  Let me know if you have any ideas for alterations!

Place the following ingredients in a food processor:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 jalapeno pepper, seeds and all!
  • ~ 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • small handful basil leaves, chopped
  • small handful cilantro, chopped

Process until it reaches the consistency you prefer.  Eat up!

There are millions of different ways to make salsas – peach salsa, chipotle salsa, black bean and corn salsa, the list goes on and on…

Jon and I prefer just basic, spicy salsa – we’re not crazy about all the add ins.  I’m excited to experiment with this a bit more.

Okay, okay, now for what you’ve all been waiting for.  I selected the winners using True Random Number Generator from random. org.

Drumroll please.

The winners of the chia seeds so graciously donated by Monterey Bay Spice Company are….

Rhea from Happy Greek Feaster

and

Amber from SAHM’s Musings

Congrats Rhea and Amber.  Email me your information, and we’ll get your chias shipped asap!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  And a very special thanks to Monterey Bay Spice Company for being our lovely sponsor.  Hop over and check out their website when you get a chance.  Chia seeds are only the beginning of their amazing products!

That’s all for tonight, friends.  Hope you all had a fantastic Monday!

What kind of salsa is your favorite?  Any tips to improve my recipe?  I’m all ears!!

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