It’s a Salad Celebration!

Salmon Salad Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins
Salmon Salad
Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins

May is National Salad Month, but I think  a nice fresh garden salad makes any meal a celebration. When you think of a garden salad, or green salad what comes to mind? A bowl of iceberg lettuce with maybe a little purple cabbage or grated carrot mixed in and one slice of tomato on the side? Do you sometimes get bored with that?

Not Your Ordinary Garden Salad
We all get tired of a plain old green salad. Try the following suggestions for greens, veggies, dressing and other ingredients to jazz up that ordinary salad. Add a little protein to your salad and make it a meal.

Be Daring in Your Choice of Greens

With hundreds of varieties of salad greens, why get stuck on iceberg lettuce? New time try something different. Use the list below to help you get started.

  1.  Arugula (also known as rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola). Low in calories and high in vitamins A and C the leaves have a distinctive peppery flavor.

2.  Belgian endive is a leaf lettuce which is related to chicory and escarole with crisp, tightly packed leaves and a slightly bitter taste..

3.  Dandelion greens are high in vitamins A and K, calcium and iron. The newest leaves are said to be less bitter. Before you go harvesting the greens in your back yard be sure you are not using herbicides, insecticides or other harmful chemicals on your lawn.

4.  Escarole is a type of endive that is less bitter than other types and it good either eaten raw or lightly cooked.

5.  Iceberg or head lettuce is what many people think of when they hear the words lettuce or salad. Iceberg lettuce is known for it’s crisp sweet tasting heads. It also keeps longer than some of the other lettuces. The large leaves may also be used like a tortilla to make lettuce wraps.

6.  Mesclun (also known as Spring Mix) is the French name for a mix of a variety of tender young lettuces. These often include chervil, arugula, lettuce and endive.

7.  Cabbage may not be an ingredient you think of for salads but the mild flavor make it a perfect bed for spicier salad ingredients.

8.  Radicchio is a red lettuce in head form (resembles red cabbage) that is bitter and peppery but adds a nice accent flavor to salads when added in small amounts.

9.  Romaine has long, deep green leaves. It also has a deep flavor and sturdy leaves that work well in a salad. Romaine lettuce is a good source vitamins A, C, B1, B2, manganese, folate, chromium, dietary fiber, as well as the minerals potassium, molybdenum, iron, and phosphorus.

10.  Spinach is a source of Vitamin A. It is rich in iron, calcium and protein. Spinach gives a good splash of dark green color and it’s own flavor to a green salad. It is also very good lightly cooked in a little olive oil with garlic.

11.  Watercress has small spicy leaves that are a good flavor addition to a salad.

Salad Dressing: How to Make a Basic Vinaigrette

The formula for a basic vinaigrette is 3 to 1. That is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. If you want to make 1 cup of dressing use ¾ cup oil and ¼ cup vinegar. If you want to make a small amount try 3 tablespoons oil to 1 tablespoon vinegar.

I use olive oil for the benefits of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids, but any good vegetable oil will work. Even your basic canola or sunflower oil may be used. You can also get fancy and use flavored oils or add a little sesame or flax seed oil to your regular oil for flavor.

The vinegar is also up to you. Regular apple cider vinegar works, but I prefer balsamic or red wind vinegar.  Flavored vinegars like raspberry also work nicely for some dressings. You don’t even have to use vinegar at all. Citrus juice such as orange, lemon, grapefruit or lime may be substituted.

A basic vinaigrette starts with the vinegar or other acid in a small bowl . Add salt and pepper or other seasonings as desired. While beating the vinegar with a wire whisk add the oil, slowly in a small stream. Continue beating until all the oil is incorporated into the dressing. Why do you do this? You are creating an “emulsion” or a blending of the oil and vinegar so they do not instantly separate. This may also be done in a blender.

That’s the basic vinaigrette. Plain and simple. Of course you can fancy it up. Add whatever you want — mustard, honey, finely chopped garlic or onion, any herbs and spices your heart desires.

Making only as much dressing as you will use immediately is a good idea. Olive oil tends to solidify when it gets cold, so some dressings do not store well in the refrigerator. I think you will also find the flavor of fresh salad dressing can’t be beat.

Now get out there and celebrate National Salad Month.  Be daring in your choice of greens, make your own dressing, add a few of your favorite fruits and veggies and maybe a little protein and take that salad way beyond your ordinary garden salad!

This celebration is linked to:

Sugar and Spice Link Party #156  http://sugarspiceandfamilylife.com/2017/05/sugar-spice-link-party-156.html

A Spring Recipe – Deviled Eggs

When I think of spring and summer something that always comes to mind is deviled eggs.  They are always a part of my Easter table as well as picnic food throughout the summer.

The other day I was talking to a friend about an upcoming potluck in our little community.  I said, “We might end up with six plates of deviled eggs.”  She laughed and then I said, “But I think everybody has their own special recipe so that might be okay.”  And we continued to talk about how many different ways there are to devil an egg.

At my house the filling is moist (I use an olive oil based mayo), tart (we add vinegar) and bright yellow (lots of mustard).  Our garnish of choice is paprika sprinkled over the top.  Your preference might be sliced olive, pickle or something else.

Here is my basic recipe, but I go by color and taste rather than exact measurement so feel free to adjust to suit your own tastes.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

6 eggs

1 t. vinegar (more or less)

1 t. prepared mustard (more or less)

2 T. mayo or salad dressing (more or less)

Directions:

1.  Hard boil eggs using your preferred method.  Cool and peel.

2.  Cut eggs in half the long way.

3.  Carefully scoop our the yolks using a spoon and put in a small bowl.

4.  Arrange whites on your serving plate.  If you have a deviled egg plate, use it.

6.  Mash yolks and add vinegar, mustard and mayo to taste.  Continue mashing and stirring until yolks are very smooth.

7.  To put the yolks mixture back in the whites you can use a small spoon.  When I worked in a restaurant I learned to use a pastry bag for this and love that method.  If you don’t have a pastry bag you can use a plastic sandwich bag with one corner cut off on the diagonal.  This is much easier, quicker and less messy than the spoon method.

Makes 12 deviled eggs.  I like to use the whole dozen and make 24.

 

Eat Well to Live Well

I used to hang out online with people who were trying to be live frugally.  I always thought I could pinch a penny till it squealed, but some of these people were extreme in their methods as well as the beliefs that were driving them to save as much and spend as little as possible.  Those groups and I eventually parted ways and the general attitude toward food was a major reason.  Many believed it doesn’t matter what you eat and food was an area where you could really cut your spending.

If you know me at all you know I am all about health and wellness.  I do have a budget.  I do make a shopping list while checking the grocery ads.  I’m the person who stands in the grocery aisles actually doing the math trying to figure out the best deal.  But our budget is built realistically to purchase fresh fruits and veggies, minimally processed meats and other healthy, naturally gluten free foods.  This comes from our belief that you can spend money on healthy food or you can spend money on doctors.  We prefer to spend on food.

In addition to my other responsibilities I am essentially a homemaker, making a safe and healthy home for Bob and I.  Grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking are part of my “job.”  And, strange as this may sound in todays world, I actually like to cook.  So taking the time needed to cook from scratch instead of grabbing convenience foods is something I don’t mind doing.  At least most of the time.  When my other responsibilities are piling up and I barely have time to breathe I do mind and the crock pot gets called into service.

So why am I talking about all this now?  Well it’s January, and the beginning of a new year is a time when people seem to be talking, thinking and planning about food.  Many resolutions will be food or weight related.  Others will be looking at ways to save money and cut the budget.

While all this is going on there are a few things I would like you to consider:

  1. Food is fuel.  If the body does not have adequate, quality fuel it will not function properly.
  2. Staying healthy saves not only on doctor bills, lost time from work but also on pain and suffering.
  3. If you really do want to lose weight ask your healthcare professional to help you come up with healthy, reasonable plan.  Don’t be taken in by all the fad diets and cleanses being promoted this time of year.
  4. Don’t forget to move.  Get up out of your chair, walk, climb stairs, play with the kids, dance, whatever strikes your fancy, just move.
  5. Remember the phrase “all things in moderation.”  You will pay for that starvation diet and obsessive physical training later  — with your health.  Those things are not sustainable and never last anyway.
  6. Remember being healthy is a way of life.  Find a balanced lifestyle plan that works for you and live it.

National Soup Month

 

Wouldn't veggie chili be good for lunch? Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins
Wouldn’t veggie chili be good for lunch?
Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins

January is National Soup Month.  This is great for those of us who are trying to eat healthier this year, especially those of us who live where January is typically cold and snowy.

Soup is a good way to start on the path to healthier eating.  But remember not all soups are created equal.  Some are healthier than others.  I believe the healthiest way to be sure I am eating a healthy soup is to make it myself.  That way I know exactly what is going in the pot and don’t have to worry about something not so good for me slipping by me.

So what are a few ingredients I want to include to make my soup healthier?

Start with a low sodium broth — check the label or make your own.  Don’t forget vegetable broth. You can also use water.

Add lots of veggies.  Try to include some dark green leafy veggies such as broccoli, spinach or kale.  An easy way to include veggies is to use a bag of a frozen blend such as a California blend or stir fry vegetables.  And don’t forget cabbage soup — just don’t overcook the cabbage.

Add whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats or barley (barley is not gluten free).

Add beans and lentils for extra fiber.

Make cream soups without cream by adding some pureed pumpkin, squash or carrots.

Watch the garnishes.  Try to slow down on the croutons, sour cream and cheese or replace them with healthier options.

Spice it up.  Herbs and spices are always a good way to add flavor to anything.  If you use packaged blends be sure to read the label for added sugar, salt, gluten, etc.

Start on your path to a healthier way of like with a bowl of nice hot, healthy soup for an easy way to work in those much needed vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Holiday Recipe

Who doesn’t love pumpkin pie?  I know I do, but I also enjoy savory pumpkin dishes, like my Pumpkin Quinoa Pilaf with Bacon.  This recipe and more are available in Have Yourself a Healthy LIttle Holiday.

Copyright 2013 by RA Robbins
Copyright 2013 by RA Robbins

 

Pumpkin Quinoa Pilaf with Bacon

Ingredients:

6 strips turkey bacon diced check the label for gf turkey bacon — I use Jennie-O

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

2 cups pumpkin puree

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon lemon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Directions:

1. Brown turkey bacon.

2. Remove bacon from skillet and drain on paper towels. Reserve for later.

3. Add 1 Tablespoon oil to skillet. Add quinoa and cook, stirring until lightly browned.

4. Add water and bring to a boil.

5. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until just a little liquid is left on the quinoa.

6. Add pumpkin, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon.

7. Reserving 1 Tablespoon of bacon for garnish add rest of bacon to quinoa. Stir.

8. Return pan to stove, cover and allow remaining liquid to be absorbed.

9. Pour pilaf into serving dish and garnish with remaining bacon.

Serves 6.

Like this recipe?  Find more of my holiday recipes in Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday available at Espirational Books.


This recipe was shared with:

http://sugarspiceandfamilylife.com/2016/12/sugar-spice-link-party-136.html

Chocolate Chip Trail Mix Cookies

Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins
Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

Who doesn’t love cookies?  Cookies turn even an ordinary day into a celebration.  This is my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe jazzed up a bit.  Just in time for holiday cookie exchanges, this recipe is gluten free, egg free and reduced fat.  Don’t be fooled by the ingredients in this recipe.  These taste so good, if you don’t tell them, people without food restrictions will never guess anything is missing.

 

Chocolate Chip Trail Mix Cookies

2 Tablespoons flax seed meal mixed with 6 Tablespoons hot water (this will replace the eggs)

1 cup unsweetened applesauce (instead of butter)

3/4 cup agave nectar (instead of white and brown sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup buckwheat flour (don’t worry buckwheat isn’t even a distant relative of wheat)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup cranberry almond trail mix

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut.

  1.  Combine flax seed meal and hot water.  Stir and let sit until thick (consistency of egg whites).
  2.  Combine flax seed mixture, applesauce, agave and vanilla in large bowl.  Mix well.
  3. Add flours and baking soda.  Stir to blend in flours.
  4. Add chocolate chips, trail mix and coconut.  Stir till well mixed.
  5. Spoon by tablespoons onto baking sheet.  Press out a little with back of spoon dipped in water if you want a flatter cookie (these won’t spread out like cookies with butter and sugar.)
  6. Bake in 350 degree over until bottoms of cookies are browned.
  7. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool.

Foe more recipes, including this one check out:

Sugar and Spice Link Party

Butterball Gluten Free Turkey Information

Recently I stumbled onto a page on the Butterball turkey website I thought I should share with you.  It not only has a nice graphic on how to know if a Butterball turkey is gluten free, but also has links to more information in the FAQ and recipes.  Who doesn’t love recipes?  So go take a peek.

http://www.butterball.com/how-tos/gluten-free-holiday-dinner