Friday, March 1, 2013

Marinated Salad, so easy and healthy!

Friday Focus:  Healthy Eating

One of the focuses for the year is eating healthy.  Even last week Chris (who is not know as a vegetable lover) was commenting on adding more green stuff to our diet.  He was asking about costs and what I had put in this or that.  Interesting?  I get so tired of throwing away salads and such but while people are open to it I figured it was worth a try again.

Part of the problem with salads is that to throw a "good salad" together you have to prepare (chop) a bunch of vegetables up and make a nice dressing (unless you find a good bottled one.)  In my opinion there is a HUGE difference between bottled and a good homemade dressing.  We'll eat a huge bowl of salad; Chris and I (and sometimes Ariel) will even have 2nd or 3rd helpings if it's made with a good dressing!  All this takes time.

Vegetables marinating
Today I've got a meeting all afternoon where I'll likely pull into the driveway minutes before Chris is home if I'm lucky.  So how are we to achieve our en-devour of having a nice side salad to go with our meal?  The meal can be in the crock pot, so that's easy but the salad is different.  A marinated salad is the answer!

This is a do ahead salad.  This morning I chopped the vegetables to go in it.  You can use anything you have on hand celery, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, pea pods, sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, peppers etc...  Today I used about 1/4 cup of sliced purple onion, 1/2 cup of sliced grape tomatoes, 1/2 red pepper and about 4 inches of a salad cucumber.  All you do is chop and slice it as desired and then put your dressing over it in the bowl all day.  At serving time take a couple handfuls of lettuce (I used "living" lettuce) and cut it up (or tear it but if we're eating it all right away I sometimes cut) and toss with the vegetables.  Just before dinner it takes literally 2-3 minutes to have a great tasting salad.

The other tip I have in getting your family to eat salad is not to use too much lettuce.  Let's face it, it's generally the things you put on or in it that have the most flavor (and nutrients) so think of the lettuce as an additional ingredient not what you "top".  It will have far more flavor and you may have more going back for seconds. 

Another great thing about this salad is the cost.  Everyone says it's so inexpensive to eat healthy but consider this.  I have enough for 3 salads from one long cucumber $1 at Meijers yesterday, 1 purple onion cost about .33 cents, 1 red pepper .50 cent at Martins a couple days ago (in store special I got 4 at that price!), $1 for a container of grape tomatoes from Meijers and $1.01 for the lettuce which was on clearance and is enough for two of my three salads I'll make.  So that's $4.84 cents plus let's say another .50 cents for the lettuce I'll buy to go with the third, that makes 5.34 for 3 meals of side salads or 1.78 per meal.  I would say that you get about 6 servings per salad.  I think that's pretty cost effective for fresh vegetables in your diet!

You can also consider chopping all the vegetables for 3-4 salads and leave them in the refrigerator marinating for up to a week.  I've done this before but I found I prefer them not quite so strongly marinated.  They'll keep generally up to a week if you chose to try this.

And the dressing...last night we had it with a bottles Italian, but my favorite and what we'll be having tonight is a homemade miso dressing.  I use about half the recipe per salad and it's divine.

Oh and if you don't have miso it's worth getting, you can find it at most health food stores.  Locally they have it at the Apple Valley store on Grape Road.  It's around $4 if I recall and it lasts in your fridge for a really long time.  You only use small amounts, but it's what adds the tang.  It's so good.

Miso Dressing- modified from Vegan Yum Yum cookbook
1 T. miso paste (I used yellow miso)
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. sugar
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. of salt
Couple grinds of peppercorns
2 T. oil of your choice
2 T. hot water

Another great "salad on the side" to have ready to go is refrigerator coleslaw but I'll save that for the next Friday focus on healthy eating!  Enjoy!

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