An Eclectic Rainbow Salad

Variety is the spice of Life. It also happens to be really good for your body.

That’s why it’s one of the drivers behind the meals I make: the greater the variety of food in a meal, the higher its nutritional content (generally speaking). That’s why ‘they’ say “Eat a Rainbow”.

Well, today’s lunch certainly nailed the colour bit. Which is interesting, considering it all began with a thought about boiled eggs as I drove home from yoga. You see, I often boil a few up and keep them in the fridge (…for moments just like these – instant gratification meals). Mum used to make an avocado, tomato & cottage cheese salad that I loved and even though it didn’t relate directly to my egg craving, I began to envisage a meal based on this combination.Food Fervour

This is how it came together:

Scattering a large handful of roughly chopped baby spinach on my plate, I then topped it with 3 quartered cherry tomatoes, 2 quartered hard boiled eggs, about 5cm of chopped lebanese cucumber and chunks of flesh from ½ large avocado.

Next I piled on about 3 heaped tablespoons of (my homemade) sauerkraut to please my gut bacteria, then a mound (approximately 2 tablespoons) of grated vintage cheddar …simply because it goes so well with avo and sauerkraut (have you ever tried a Reuben’s Sandwich? Here’s a link to my recipe for one of them: https://foodfervour.com/2014/11/25/a-probiotic-toastie/)

That’s kind of edgy enough for a salad but I felt like pushing the boundaries a bit further so, instead of my standard vinegar & oil dressing, I drizzled the plain EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) over everything but followed it with a dollop of homemade sweet chilli sauce on the top. And if that wasn’t daring enough, I sprinkled approximately a dessertspoon of nutritional yeast flakes over the whole lot. BOOM. Gut-lovin’!

Now admittedly, even before I tucked in, it crossed my mind that I might’ve gone too far: gone overboard with elements & confused the flavours …but I wasn’t disappointed. I ate the lot. Maybe I was too hungry to notice whether the flavours really worked together or not? So please, by all means, if you decide to try this meal for yourself, and you come to a different conclusion, feel free to remind me that sometimes nutrient density should take a backseat to simplicity…

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Cravings & Improvisation

I once heard somewhere that cravings can be your body’s way of alluding to a lack of certain nutrients: for example, a desire for ice cream could mean you need calcium. food fervourNice thought, but moreover, great excuse to abuse yourself! If you need calcium, won’t a glass of milk or handful of sesame seeds suffice? Nope!

Cravings can really only be tackled psychologically. You either talk yourself out of it (which may increase the danger of its return, more powerful than before) or you cave. Or, you could try doing what I have taught myself to do. It works hmm, maybe 90% of the time? And that’s a pretty good strike rate for someone who can really lack willpower when it comes to food.

It only takes a few minutes of focus; to analyse what exactly it is you want from the particular food or drink you are craving. What ‘characteristics’: flavour, texture, temperature. Savoury or sweet? Crunchy or creamy? Warm or cold? Moist or dry? Sometimes this very process can diminish the craving, but at the very least it buys you time: time to avoid the instant (& usually poor quality) gratification option.

I used to crave ice cream after dinner. But I can’t have the stuff in the house because – apart from knowing how rubbish it is for me – it wouldn’t last 24 hours. I can – and have – demolished a tub in one sitting. But by putting a little thought into it, I worked out that it was actually the cool, moist, sweet creaminess that my taste buds craved, not necessarily ice cream. So I turned an ice cream habit into a Greek yoghurt with fruit and/or nuts, and/or cacao habit, which I’ve actually blogged about previously: You Don’t NEED Ice Cream

food fervourToday’s lunch was the result of a little bit of analytical thought as well. I had cheese on my mind. And avocado. Now I’m a fan of cheese on toast (in fact, it’s a ‘swap-out’ I have used to satisfy a sausage roll craving a couple of times in the past, believe it or not – warm, savoury) but I wasn’t so “one-eyed-and-desperate” enough to settle on such a simple meal, when I could easily pack more nutrients (& fibre) into it by adding some extra elements.

So my toasted cheese and avocado sanger became a toasted cheese, avocado, tomato, cucumber & baby spinach sandwich. That totally satisfied me.

 

Liquid Health: Pros & Cons of Smoothies

I just gorged on cheese. I felt like some cheese on toast for lunch but thanks to my relationship with ‘instant gratification’ I started hoeing into the Nimbin Natural before my GF bread was toasted. Then I had a couple more pieces while the griller took its turn. So by the time I’d eaten, I was full as a goog (Aussie slang for “I’ve had sufficient”).

Now, with the stomach juices working hard (& loud!) I’m feeling a tad guilty about the lack of fibre & nutritional variety in that ‘meal’. Since there’s no way I could fit a whole salad in after all that (a sign in itself…) I’m going to ‘supplement’ with a smoothie.
Good old smoothies!
How did we ever live without them before? Nutrient-dense meals-on-the-run.
They are SO easy. So ridiculously easy. And they’re a blank canvas for the Creative. The one basic ‘rule’ I can ever recall hearing somewhere is:
60% FRUITS + 40% VEGGIES/GREENS

food fervourOf course, when you get used to them (that is, when you “harden up”!) you may find you can reduce the fruit component, which is a good thing for those who want to ‘control’ their fructose intake. Intensely flavoured components of a smoothie can disguise less palatable ingredients. If you have some idea of what fruits & vegetables go well together, you’re unlikely to go too far wrong. If all else fails… Google. There are literally thousands of recipes out there in the ether.

For this one I grabbed an orange, lots of strawberries & blueberries, a banana and a couple of dates and blended them with a chunk of cucumber, a stick of celery (leaves’n’all) a handful of baby spinach and some cabbage.
I blended the solids first to break them up as much as possible, then added my liquid (coconut water in this instance) for a smoother drink.

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So full… More for later!

The thing to remember with smoothies (and here I hark back to the ‘sign’ I mentioned during my cheese story) is that by liquefying your food, it’s easier to consume more than you need, plus there’s less work for your digestive system to undertake. While that can seem like a good thing  – and it can be when you are unwell and need all the energy (& nutrients) you can get for minimal effort, while your immune system is hard at work – healthy peops are likely to become hungrier sooner (despite ingesting a salad bowl’s worth of calories). Because your digestive organs aren’t really getting the ‘workout’ for which they were designed. They need the challenge of some tough fibre or dense proteins to breakdown in the same way your body responds to the fitness challenges you (should) apply to it in training!

To this end, I don’t believe smoothies should be consumed on a regular (daily) basis. After all, human evolution didn’t involve electric blenders!

For a meal on a run, yes – if you really CAN’T make the time. For instant gratification, yes, if you really CAN’T exercise self control. And heck, even for the occasional ‘nutrient supplementation’ after a very average meal (to wit: me, today) and at the expense of excessive energy intake!

 

Coconut Chia Dairy Alternative

Breakfast on this fine Sunday morning has been both easy & decadent in the same breath. How good does this look?food fervour

While contemplating cooking a hot Sunday breakfast, I came across a container of soaked chia seeds I had forgotten I’d prepped earlier in the week. Bang! Instant gratification.

I could forget about the frypan or Thermomix now: I had organic blueberries & strawberries, banana and the ultimate (rare) decadence – some fresh cream. (Clearly I’M not vegan, but I sometimes prefer vegan meals…) That’s all it took to make my brekky. Minimal dish washing means more time to hang out my linen and wash my car. Yay :/

Had I not had the chia prepared, this breakfast wouldn’t’ve happened. Well, nowhere near as ‘instantly’. This is a perfect example of how a little bit of preparation can help you avoid “poor food choices” when you’re in a hurry, or simply just too impatient (“Need food NOW!”).

Chia seeds soaked in coconut cream (or milk) make a perfect vegan alternative to yoghurt or cream. And it’s ridiculously simple. The ratio is usually about 1 part chia seeds to 3 or 4 parts liquid, depending upon how ‘solid’ you like your yoghurts/creams. It’s as simple as mixing them together in a container (I always use glass) sealing and refrigerating for perhaps half an hour (or 2-3 days…how hungry are ya?!) Bob’s your Uncle.

The calcium, protein, Omegas in chia seeds make this just as good, if not better than the dairy alternatives. You can also play with this basic concoction in numerous ways, adding spices (vanilla, cinnamon for example) cacao and added natural sweeteners (if you HAVE to!) For more ideas Google ‘Chia Pudding’ and you’ll find a whole host of recipes.

Deconstructed Apple Crumble

I have to admit I became a little distracted in my yoga class this afternoon. Somehow apples popped into my head (go figure?!) and my Samadhi was lost; the ‘Train of Thought’ left the station and a Craving was born. I was mulling over ideas for a warm apple dessert, but I knew an apple pie was out of the question. Waaaay too much time and effort.

So when I got home I looked up apple recipes in the Thermomix Recipe search engine, knowing that I was really looking for something ‘apple-crumble-ish’, to make it quick (minimal time between making and eating) but I realised they all still required oven baking. Pshhh!

So I decided to go with a ‘deconstruction’. As long as it was warm, I didn’t care.food fervour

For a single serve, one apple is plenty. I chopped it up roughly and threw it in the Thermie for a quick ‘Turbo’ smash-up (keeping the skin on – the more fibre the better!) then added about 10gms of water and set it to ‘stew’ for 3 minutes, 70ºC, Reverse Speed 2.

I popped the stewed apple straight into my serving dish (Thermie owners could put it in their Thermoservers to keep VERY warm, if you could be bothered to wash another item) showering it with ground cinnamon, then put 50gms walnuts in the bowl and chopped for about 6 seconds on speed 5-6. Adding 30gms coconut oil, 5-10gms coconut sugar and roughly a tablespoon (5gms) of psyllium husk I set it to cook for 2 minutes at 100ºC, Reverse Speed 2.

Scooping it straight into the dish with the apple, I poured in some fresh cream, garnishing with shredded coconut, then mixed it all up before taking the first spoonful. SO yummy. SO quick. SO satisfying. Instant gratification!