The sad sad salad. Oftentimes it’s made a mockery of and not taken very seriously. Like, when you are a vegan and go to Red Lobster to be social, order the salad, and get croutons and iceburg… But it is an explosion of possibilities hiding behind some unassuming green leafys! We lived on salads for months and we experimented with veggies, dressings and fixins’. Whether you’re vegan, paleo, gluten-free or whatever, you can always have a salad that suits your taste. Summer is coming with markets and fresh produce galore! Here are plenty of ideas:
- Green/Red leaf lettuce: Hard boiled eggs, raw milk blue cheese, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, onion, tomato, cold peas and balsamic/oil dressing
- Spinach: Sliced strawberries, red onion (soaked in balsamic for 5-10 mins), parmesan (optional) and balsamic/oil dressing
- Romaine: Walnut taco “meat” (recipe below), thawed or fresh organic corn, bell peppers, black beans, onion, carrot and salsa for dressing or cilantro lime jalapeno dressing
- Shallots (tiny onion-like and delicious!)
- Red/Orange/Green/Yellow peppers
- Hemp seed
- Sunflower seeds
- Mung bean and/or alfalfa sprouts
- Mandarin oranges
- Shrimp, salmon, chicken
- Arugula, kale, dandelion greens, etc.
- Cranberries, raisins or currants
- Fresh dill, cilantro, basil, etc.
- This could be a long post! More ideas here
Sure it may seem like a cop-out blog, but there aren’t many meals out there that make me feel amazing, healthy and satisfied after, like a salad does. No croutons or meat necessary! You can get protein from hemp seed and eggs. I can say from experience that no, Marie Callender’s blue cheese vinaigrette, will not help if you are trying to lose weight. Fat hides in a beautiful salad dressing bottle like you wouldn’t believe! And usually not the good healthy kind, more like the hydrogenated/xanthan gum/sugar-riddled kind. Honestly it’s more economical, healthy and diverse to make your own dressings. If you have a blender or food processor (even a bottle to mix vinegar and oil) you can make your own dressing. It’s more time consuming to try to read the labels at the store than it is to throw together some shallots, vinegar, oil and mustard. THAT recipe doesn’t even need a blender!
Walnut Taco “Meat”
- 1 cup walnuts (or 1/2 walnuts, 1/2 other nut) soaked for 2-4 hours
- 1 T cumin
- 1 T coriander
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2/3 tsp good salt
- 1 tsp aminos or gluten-free soy sauce/nama shoyu
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/2-1 tsp chipotle chili powder
- Additional add ins: sundried tomatoes in oil, cilantro, salsa
- Process nuts, then mix with rest. Add more oil or a little water if needed and adjust seasonings to taste. The texture shouldn’t be walnut butter smooth, but semi soft and chunky so that it looks like ground taco meat. Give yourself a delicious scoop and wait for all the “oohs” and “aahs”. This has been ‘man-tested’ and given a stamp of approval.
Now, for my 3 FAVORITE salad dressing recipes!
Spicy Asian Dressing
- 1/4 c liquid aminos
- 3 T rice vinegar
- 4 T water
- 2 T sugar (sugar-free? maybe try a bit of agave)
- 3 T sesame oil
- 3 tsp chili paste
-Put in a bottle and shake! Adjust chili paste for more spice!
- 1/8 tsp good salt
- 1 T red wine vinegar
- 1/2 small shallot, minced
- 1/2 dijon
- 3-4 T olive oil
-Soak shallots in vinegar for 10 minutes, then add ingredients and adjust to taste. I LOVE lots of mustard and usually end up making this recipe just using the ingredients and never measuring.
Japanese Ginger (aka Crack) Dressing
- 1/2 cup liquid aminos
- juice of 1 lemon (save for zesting if desired for this recipe)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 T fresh ginger root, minced
- 2 tsp dijon
- 2 tsp agave
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 1 T raw tahini (great for nut allergies, since this is a sesame product)
-Whisk, blend, process, whatever the ingredients above. Adjust flavor as desired. I love the ginger!!
Jon and I couldn’t remember the last time we had tacos. Seriously. We haven’t purchased ground beef, or turkey in at least a year, and the ground bison we buy is usually for the chili. It’s almost like we had forgotten it was a dinner option. Almost. Plus Jon loves flour tortillas and I love hard corn shells so we compromised.
Almost Paleo Tacos (serves 4)
- Organic corn tortillas (probably not paleo, but they’re gluten free and deeelicious)
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 lb bison
- 1/4 c water
- Chipotle chili powder, minced fresh garlic and cumin-you can also buy taco seasoning, but they can have loads of sodium and possibly MSG and other junk
- Onion, diced
- Raw milk cheddar, shredded (possibly not paleo…but I don’t care)
- Lettuce, chopped (salad lettuce worked just fine)
- Tomatoes, diced
- Salsa (a common offender in the “why is there sugar in this?” category)-try to get the kind that only has food in it
- Cilantro, diced
- Corn tortillas work best when they are fresh because moisture buildup can make them stick. No holes in tacos please! You want to warm a small pan and slap a tortilla in there for a few seconds on each side when you’re almost ready to serve.
- Heat 1 T olive oil in a medium-large pan over medium low. Add bison and cook until no pink remains. Drain the excess liquid from the pan and add seasonings and water. Simmer for a few minutes until well mixed. Add more water if necessary.
- See number 1!
- Serve with onion, cilantro, cheese, salsa and lettuce.
I know that there is not really a one-size fits all approach with the paleo diet, but I like the premise. Obviously most successful diets (meaning nutrition not weight loss) contain a large majority of fresh foods and very little if any prepackaged food. Foods like dairy show up as a yes and no, but I really love the idea of raw milk.
What’s raw milk? Johnny Bowden’s 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth says:
“I’m a huge fan of raw, organic, unpasteurized, nonhomogenized milk from grass-fed cows that graze in small farms devoted to sustainable agriculture. In fact, I think milk-raw, whole milk from the cows I’ve just described is one of the best whole foods in the world. But I can’t say the same about the milk we find in the typical supermarket. …Even calves probably wouldn’t touch the stuff we get in supermarkets.” (pg. 173)
Of course we’ve all been told milk prevents osteoporosis and it’s good for us and a low-fat snack… but is it really? The traditional milk supply has a lot of problems. Problems many of us find hard to swallow. Some of the myths about milk that exist are:
- My milk/dairy products don’t have growth hormone in it.
Unfortunately, unless it states “rBst/rBGH free”, “organic” or along those lines, it does. An article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology concluded “We found a positive association with acne for intake of total milk and skim milk. We hypothesize that the association with milk may be because of the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules in milk.” The article? High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne. Interestingly, European cheese is free of hormones since its use is banned. The leading manufacturer of the hormone in the U.S. is the same company who created DDT, Agent Orange, PCBs, Roundup, and is pushing GMOs. Additionally, there isn’t a lack of studies linking dairy to cancers, particularly ovarian and prostate. You will also find studies to the contrary.
- I get essential vitamins and minerals that I wouldn’t get elsewhere.
Pasteurizing and homogenizing dairy destroys enzymes and diminishes the nutritional value of the once-whole food. That’s why vitamins are added back in. Same goes for orange juice, cereals and bread (enriched product anyone?). You can get vitamin D in salmon and in some fish oil supplements. Vitamin C and A from spinach (in your smoothie!). Magnesium-In fact, one study that had rats who were fed (human equivalent) one side serving of steamed spinach showed a blood-pressure lowering effect in 2-4 hours. Greens (spinach, dandelion, broccoli) also have calcium!
- I’ll get osteoporosis if I don’t drink milk, since I don’t eat greens.
Sugar, caffeine and too much protein have devastating effects on calcium levels, and so does too much milk. This link has pros and cons, and it’s interesting that several studies mentioned in the pro side are Dairy industry people. In fact, protein is being linked to hip fractures more and more. Of course you will find articles to the contrary, such is science.
- Raw milk is dangerous! It’s practically illegal.
There will always be two sides to every story. Spinach is a super food no doubt; spinach was also the cause of very serious food-borne illnesses a few years ago. Same with cantaloupe, and beef. There may be a danger in ingesting raw milk, and that debate wages fierce. Proponents are adamant that it is a life-altering elixir. The choice is quite personal, especially since its sale is banned in several states. Raw milk cheese is ok by FDA standards as long as it’s aged for 60 days. While I can’t guarantee the safety of raw milk, I certainly encourage education on the topic.
David Gumpert’s book The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights is simply astounding, as is his blog. It exposes the unfair treatment farmers receive trying to make a living selling a product, and the lengths people will go to for a food they cannot live without. Most people just want a choice, which is being taken away with little explanation. You can create fear for just about anything, raw milk is no different. While I recognize the possibility of getting sick, I also recognize the benefits of unadulterated food. You take a chance when you rely solely on scientific studies. The study must serve a purpose and of course it needs to be funded. I love that studies are readily available to me, but I also recognize that there is little industry benefit in studying the health benefits of competitive foods. This is the other side of the coin, and the choice should always be yours.