Thoughts of a Foodie ~ Lighten up!

After the holiday I feel weighed down. I mean, I indulged a bit. I keep close tabs on my weight and ridiculous as it seems, I came home 3 pounds lighter from the holiday weekend than I left. Yeah. Weird. After the turkey, the stuffing, the potatoes, and the cheeses, it is time to lighten up. At least for awhile. Then there is another holiday!

I have watched my cat, Fiona, plump up for the winter. Her fur is SO FLUFFY and it keeps her warm as the temperature has dropped. I believe we humans tend to change our eating with the seasons in part for the same reason. We need to plump up and keep warm. . . or so we think.  In the summer Barry and I live on salads. In the fall, the produce is abundant and we move to root vegetables. Then I start with the soups.

By winter, there is comfort in eating warm rich foods that fill our bellies. The truth is, though, that we have warm clothing and heated homes. We don’t need to bulk up and hunker down for winter. Think about it . . . then lighten up.

I think it is all about finding balance. If you keep it healthy and keep it fresh, there is room for indulgence. I always advocate seasonal eating. I also think that we can enjoy the holidays and the fun foods that come with them if we make it an exception and not a rule. There are websites that advocate ‘meatless Mondays’ but I propose a different thought. I propose choosing one day a week for summer eating. Make that day a salad day. Eat light. Find balance.

Make a new salad every week. In between the chili and the mac and cheese, have a light meal once a week. And if you have not started making your own dressing, PLEASE do so. It adds the final touch to a delicious fresh meal you have put together. My cupboard holds at least 6 kinds of vinegar: white wine, pear infused, tarragon, apple cider, red wine, balsamic, and distilled white. I change the flavor to enhance the salad ingredients.

Fresh dressing is delightful and easy to make. Pick out a bottle of dressing in your fridge and read the ingredients. Make your own and choose them. I propose you start with a simple tarragon dressing.

In the bottom of your salad bowl, put 2 tablespoons of tarragon vinegar. Add one teaspoon of mustard. I use a Dijon. Crush in tarragon leaves, about a teaspoon. In summer, go with fresh. In winter I admit I use dried. Now get your whisk ready and stream in olive oil. You will end up putting in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. It depends on you. When you have the 1/4 cup in, taste a little, then stream some more until it tastes good to you! A good dressing doesn’t really need salt and pepper. And a well dressed salad doesn’t need to be surrounded with bottles. Even on a holiday I make the salad with dressing and serve it ready to eat.

Now despite having a cupboard full of vinegar, Barry and I are not huge vinegar lovers! The variety of flavors make the dressings unique and delicious so I use them. Sparingly. And here is a little trick. If the vinegar is too sharp add a little squirt of clear agave or simple syrup. It cuts the sharpness.

Now I did say put the ingredients in the bottom of a salad bowl. Then create the salad in the bowl and on top of your delicious dressing.  Add chopped Romaine, maybe some chopped endive, chopped radicchio, diced pears and a soft cheese, like goat cheese. toss gently. Steam some edamame to add protein to the meal and enjoy.

So, enjoy your fall and early winter meals. Find a little balance by adding “Salad Sunday” to your week and lighten up! As always… enjoy!

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5 thoughts on “Thoughts of a Foodie ~ Lighten up!

  1. I wish we had such a variety of vinegars here! We are lucky when we are able to find the red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar! I grab them when I’m able to find them. As for tarragon and pear infused…forget it…unable to find it here, sadly.

    • Is there a way to make ingredient-infused vinegar? I know that momma takes time to infuse her oil with various ingredients like rosemary and garlic

  2. Dona, we live in a small town and have an interesting variety. Have you asked your grocer to order some? If not use white wine vinegar and add lots of tarragon! I have infused my olive oil and vodka, but not vinegar. There are many ideas out there to explore…http://tipnut.com/infused-vinegar/ for example. Michael Chiarello even wrote a book on it! http://www.amazon.com/Flavored-Vinegars-Recipes-Cooking-Infused/dp/B000IJ7Q3M

    For the pear, I actually have a Ninja I use and if you use the white vinegar and put diced pear in the dressing, it will pulverize into the dressing! Divine!!

  3. a beautiful “wintery” salad…dark greens, pomegranate, feta and walnuts with a light vinegarette (I make balsamic vinegarette) it’s a perfect compliment to any meal 🙂

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