Easing Into Green

Salad ingredients

“Plant-based diet” has become the catchphrase for eating well and living long in contemporary society. Whereas old-school models of eating centered on a now arcane food pyramid, today’s healthy-minded people know the trick to feeling good and maintaining a disease-free body lies in eating green. But how does one forego meat,  cheese, and sweets (mostly) without growing bored of the same old steamed veg or the variations on a tossed salad? The answer lies in finding creative ways to mix the healthy with the craved, in a ratio where the bad stuff lies low and the good stuff looms high, but the taste still remains.

saladsandwich

Non – Lettuce Salads

I like to keep bulk, non-perishable ingredients like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, hemp hearts, and chickpeas in my cabinets so that I always have fun, textural salad adornments at hand. Then, I pluck whatever produce is in the garden, or whatever vegetables are most abundant and cheap in the grocery store, and chop them up and add. Mingle this all with a simple vinaigrette made by shaking two parts oil to one part vinegar in a Mason jar and some small bits of sin for flavor in the form of crumbled feta cheese. Over 50% of the salad is green. A small percentage is fat. The toppings are various forms of superfoods or grains. And the possibilities are endless enough so you could eat a non-lettuce salad every day simply by following the seasons. One of my favorite combinations is below.

Squash and Cucumber Salad

¼ raw zucchini diced
¼ raw cucumber diced
¼ c. dried chickpeas
1/8 c. dried barberries
1 oz. diced feta

Toss all ingredients together.

Dressing:
1 tbls. olive oil
½ tbls. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried marjoram

Whisk all together and pour on salad.

sandwich

Green Sandwiches

Similarly to the non-lettuce salad concept, is the non-meat sandwich concept. To me, there is nothing better than a great piece of high quality, bakery bread with layers of fresh veggies and a good piece of cheese.

My special trick with these sandwiches is to always have a jar of homemade pesto on hand to use in place of mayonnaise. The richness makes the meal heartier and the herbs and nuts I use pack lots of antioxidant power into lunch.

havarti

Homemade Herbal Pesto

1 large bag cilantro
1 large bag basil
¼ c. pepitas
½ olive oil

Blend herbs in a food processor until minced. Add the pepitas and blend until relatively, uniformly minced. Continue to pulse while adding oil in a slow stream until the mixture reaches your preferred consistency. I tend to like mine chunky and less liquid, but it is a matter of personal taste.

Idea: This pesto is remarkable as a base on a soft piece of Jewish rye, layered with havarti and melted under a broiler, and then topped with ripe, halved, grape or cherry tomatoes.

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