Tag Archives: Salad

Lettuce Talk Greens

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If you’re like me, you can kill a batch of salad faster than you can say, “What happened…?” If you’re not like me, then just go the hell away and eat your perfectly fresh salad.

I kid! Kind of…

In my perpetual quest for foodie knowledge, I’ve read a plethora of blog posts and helpful sites recently that detail how to maintain fresh greens — IF you have a salad spinner. I’m a broke, old-school grad student, so salad spinner goes on my list of priorities right behind BMW and David Beckham. (In other snarky words, I do a lot by hand.)

Here is how I keep salad greens fresh for the long haul (i.e. more than three or four days):

First, break apart individual leaves from a head of Iceberg lettuce or a bunch of leaf lettuce.

If the leaves are a little wilted, fill the sink with cold water and soak the leaves for about 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much they perk right up!

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When the leaves have finished their bath, rinse each leaf under cold water, then shake it gently to remove excess water. Spread out several paper towels and place leaves individually on the towels to dry.

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I sometimes put another paper towel over top of the leaves to hasten the drying process. When the leaves are almost completely dry, arrange them as you want to use them on a clean, dry paper towel.

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Layer the leaves from first to be used on top to to-be-used-last on the bottom. Sandwich the leaves between clean, dry paper towels to soak up any remaining water.

Lastly, store the lettuce in a Ziploc bag or other airtight container, and be sure to squeeze out any air pockets before refrigerating.

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Your lettuce should be good to go for a couple of weeks!

I wanted to share this information with you because after years of magically transforming crisp greens into limp, slimy piles of earthy-smelling mush I call salads, I have finally found a system that works. Yes, it’s much more time-consuming than simply throwing a cheap bag of greens into my fridge and calling it a day. Spending the extra time on food preparation and storage has allowed me more budgetary freedom to purchase the organic goods I crave less frequently than I was buying (and throwing away) the prepackaged stuff.

If you have any tips or suggestions about rinsing or storing greens, I’m all ears! Salad greens seem to be the produce item I waste most frequently via improper care and storage.

Sorry I’m getting this post out so late. I meant to write yesterday, but it’s been another one of those go-go-go weekends! Enjoy what’s left of your Saturday, blends!

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Drawing Conclusions

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My week-long nutrition calculating culminated yesterday!

(Geez, what is with this woman?! She won’t stop talking about protein and carbs! Enough already!)

I know, right? ūüėČ

First, let me just say that writing down every morsel I put into my mouth was tedious and at times, difficult. I found that without actually altering the amount of food I was planning to eat to suit this task, I did measure a number of foods I normally wouldn’t (e.g. number of Wheat Thins, tablespoons of salsa, teaspoons of salad dressing). Without knowing the amount I was eating, nutrition labels would have been all but useless. Also, it was eye-opening to see how many¬†so-called servings of food I actually¬†consume when I¬†bypass measuring and just eat.¬†That said, here are the last few stats*:

Monday — 262.5g carbohydrates, 65g¬†protein (woohoo!), 48g¬†fat, 26g fiber

Tuesday — 231.5g carbohydrates, 76g¬†protein (score!), 56g fat, 28.5g fiber (win!)

Conclusions
To be honest, I can’t draw too many conclusions other than that I’m not consuming enough in any category every single day. I hit my¬†protein intake mark three days out of five, so that’s nothing to scoff at! I only hit my fiber mark twice, so I’ll be looking into how to up my fiber intake per diem. I never hit my carbohydrates or fat marks.

Reactions
I am one hundred percent surprised that I never once hit my RDV¬†fat or carbs¬†intake marks. Before I began tabulating everything, I thought surely I consumed enough fat and carbs to satisfy the RDV requirements (and probably several other people’s, as well). Perhaps this is where the answer to my personal hunger games lies; carbohydrates fuel the body through strenuous exercise as well as daily living, while saturated¬†fats satiate the body and make it feel artificially full. Perhaps if I am not eating enough of either, my body is going into conservation mode because it never detects fullness and therefore feels that it needs to hold on to fat reserves and sources of energy. In a circular effect, my body needs ample fat and carbohydrate intake to signal it to allow me to lose weight through diet and exercise without feeling the need to hold on to those nutrients.¬†This could be the answer to my weight-loss plateau, as well. Many people told me that at the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I would shed pounds like they were nothin’. Further down the road, they said, I would hit a plateau and it would seem as if I’d never lose another pound (for most people, I assume that’s how those “last ten pounds” feel). I’ve been hovering around the same weight for a few months now with little noticeable progress. I think I may have finally found my answer! Now, uncovering the solution to my intake woes is another story… Looks like more research is next on my to-do list!

Typically
A typical day in meals looks like this — Breakfast: coffee + Splenda + a splash of skim milk, Greek yogurt, Kashi cereal + fresh fruit; Lunch:¬†spinach¬†salad¬†with cucumber, tomato, broccoli, baby carrots, and Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (or) quinoa bowl with shredded lettuce, quinoa, sour cream, fresh salsa, black beans (or) hearty soup (Italian Wedding-Style, Mexican Tortilla, French Onion, Homestyle Chicken Noodle); Snacks: almonds, Asian pears, Wheat Thins, KIND bars, bananas, blue corn tortilla chips + fresh¬†salsa; Dinner: pasta + sauce (or) hearty soup [if not for lunch], fresh tomato + cucumber slices¬†in apple cider vinegar + black pepper; Late snacks: frozen fruit, sugar-free Jell-O, decaf coffee + flavored creamer

*Just as a refresher, I based my “stats” on the recommended daily value for a 2,000-calorie diet; I currently have no precise¬†way to measure how many calories I burn or need to take in per day. Also, I did not include my weekend meals, as they were atypical of my diet, eaten at a restaurant, or homemade sans nutrition info.

HELP! I’d love any suggestions you have for how to increase my intake in any of these nutritional categories! I like to eat as many “whole” foods as possible, without a lot of the processed stuff and without calorie-counting.

Positive Vibes from Eating Out

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My family has been eating out a lot over the holidays — far more often than we usually eat out. It’s due partially to occasions that call for dining out as opposed to coming all the way back home (for example, University of Richmond basketball games), but it’s mostly due to the great deals Groupon has been boasting. Nevertheless, we’ve all been conscious of our need (as well as our desire) to eat healthy, home-cooked meals and watch our waistlines and our wallets¬†a bit more carefully. Tonight, however, Mom and Dad and I decided to try something completely new: Positive Vibe Cafe.

The father and son who cofounded the restaurant in an old renovated bank spoke to my dad’s Kiwanis¬†group about the restaurant’s hiring of men and women with mental and physical disabilities. The son was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy at a very young age, and his father wanted him to learn job skills and be employable. That’s the entire mission of Positive Vibe — hiring individuals with varying disabilities, providing them training in the food service industry, and helping them seek employment upon “graduation” from the restaurant.

Not only was our service fantastic (and I’m not just saying that in a “Oh, they did the best they could” or a pitying kind of way; we truly had excellent service), the food was incredible. My eyes were a bit¬†bigger than my stomach, so I ordered the Watermelon, Mixed Greens, and Goat Cheese Fritters Salad and the Jumbo Shrimp Stuffed with Crab Meat with sides of Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese and Celery, Apple, and Fennel Slaw. Even with eyes that will permanently overshadow my stomach, I don’t normally order so much rich food. The shrimp were¬†a special, and there were only four of them, so I thought I’d be fine adding the salad onto my entr√©e and its requisite two sides. Wrong. Everything, however, was fresh and delicious.

[As usual, I would have snapped pictures, but I was ravenous by the time we arrived.]

Oh, and that’s the other great thing about Positive Vibe — the menu is centered around “comfort food,” but many¬†dishes are catered toward being¬†lean, low-fat,¬†and using steroid-free ingredients (e.g. the buffalo burger). Other dishes are created with organic and locally grown ingredients (e.g. the boneless loin pork chop). The menu has a variety of dishes for practically every diet, including specially designated vegetarian and seafood selections. The menu even boasts legitimate family recipes!

If you live in the Richmond area, I highly recommend Positive Vibe. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, the restaurant had¬†the feel of an old seafood place (complete with an anterior bubbling fish tank), and the staff could not have been friendlier or more gracious. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of dining at Positive Vibe, and it didn’t hurt knowing our choice of restaurant was¬†contributing to such a valuable and overlooked mission. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I was highly impressed, and I will be going back.

If you have been to Positive Vibe, what did you think? Would you give it a try?

So, I Pray at Restaurants…

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I didn’t have class yesterday, and since the semester is so close to being over (T-minus¬†6 days!), I don’t have much schoolwork left. I decided to take my textbook to Chick-Fil-A¬†and get a little reading done while I munched on my beloved Chick’n¬†Strips Salad and a fruit cup. I thought of it as “Treat Yoself” day ūüėČ

Turns out, I’m a complete flippin’ idiot. I pulled up to Chick-Fil-A¬†at 12:10. The drive-thru line was wrapped doubly around the building. I almost thought I’d have to park at Sheetz and walk over when I finally spotted a teeny space wedged between two SUVs. I made a beeline for that mother and then dashed inside… only to realize that there were two¬†available tables in the entire place. I was about tenth in line, so I could’ve¬†been that incredibly rude customer who “reserves” a table using her suitcase-sized purse or some non-essential item of clothing, but I just couldn’t do that. I patiently waited my turn, barely¬†being able to hear myself order over the thundering din of screaming toddlers and businessmen on Bluetooths. Somehow, I found a small booth by the window. As I dressed my fragrant salad with Honey Mustard and admired the freshness of my fruit cup, I noticed that the booth of college students — hulking, male college students — in front of me was holding hands with their eyes closed, saying a prayer.

I know it’s rude, but I couldn’t help but watch¬†them as they quietly finished their prayer and went on about their meal. I was truly in awe that these guys would hold each others’ hands and pray in the middle of a crowded restaurant. I think I was also in awe because I knew I was about to do the same.

See, my family and I frequently pray at restaurants. Sometimes we hold hands, and sometimes we just lean in together. One of us says a few quiet words to bless our meal, and then we continue with our business. Each of us pretty much has a standard prayer when it’s our turn. Mine goes like this: Dear God, thank you for this food, and please keep us safe in our travels. Covers most of my bases, right? ūüėČ

In my experience, there are two sticky things to consider when praying at restaurants: (1) whether any guests with us will feel uncomfortable if we pray, and (2) avoiding the waiter/waitress arriving to deliver food or refill drinks. While I shouldn’t have to compromise my values or beliefs for someone else, sometimes praying aloud is something we choose¬†to¬†forego if we’ve invited someone to dine with us who practices a different religion or someone we know we would be making uncomfortable. It’s not like my family is going to force a kumbaya¬†circle, or insist that everyone go around and say five things for which they’re thankful, or enlist people to do a group Tebow in the middle of a crowded restaurant… We’re simply expressing our gratitude.

Honestly, I think it’s awesome when I see other young people praying in public. I’m not what¬†most people¬†would consider to be a conservative person, but it brings a smile to my heart when I witness other people sharing in their faith, unafraid that others might see them or judge them. I don’t believe in martyrdom or intentional showiness, but such a simple event can have such a profound ripple effect. I really wanted to shake those guys’ hands and tell them how cool I thought what they did was, but instead I just enjoyed what I witnessed, and I carried that happiness with me all day. They’ll never know the effect they had on me, but that’s one of the things I find coolest about faith.

Question: How does it make you feel when you see people praying in public?

The Meal-Planning Queen

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One of my favorite things about being home is getting to choose what we eat. It’s the simple pleasures in¬†life, my blends ūüėȬ†This privilege comes with the pleasure of accompanying my mom to her favorite grocery store in the world, which I’m convinced she single-handedly keeps in business: Ukrop’s (a.k.a. Martin’s). This usually¬†leads to needless purchases to satiate a curious daughter obsessed with food and experimenting with recipes, but I don’t hear too much protesting…

Tonight, for instance, I chose turkey burgers topped with sautéed onions and Havarti cheese on whole wheat buns, acorn squash, and wilted spinach salad with warm poppy seed dressing. What a feast!

Warm poppy seed dressing (for a crowd):
1 tsp dry mustard
1/3 C apple cider vinegar
1 C vegetable oil
1 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 C sugar
Whisk all ingredients thoroughly. Microwave for 30 seconds; whisk again briskly. Microwave again for 30 seconds. Ladle over baby spinach, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, sliced red onion, and bacon bits. Allow time for spinach to wilt before serving.

On tomorrow’s menu: seafood pizza (Ukrop’s¬†seafood salad topped with¬†thinly sliced Havarti cheese on whole¬†wheat pizza¬†shells)¬†and green beans

Wednesday: kielbasa sausage, sauerkraut, and broccoli

Thursday, of course, I shall feast until I can feast no more! Thanksgiving is my favorite “food” holiday of the entire year, followed very closely by Christmas.

I don’t know yet what we’re planning to have Friday, but I absolutely can’t wait to share with you what we’re having Saturday — stay tuned for another awesome recipe, borrowed from a fellow blogger! ūüôā