Salad Everyday

A couple of weeks ago, while I was whining to a friend about the limitations of my diet, she mentioned that she was going to challenge herself to a salad everyday. I was noncommittal. Then, providentially, the heat went out. It was several days before the part could be shipped and received. Suddenly, the idea of cold salad was pretty unappealing, but the idea of roasting something--anything --all day long and staying close to the warm oven was very appealing. 

I took a walk through Costco and essentially gathered up everything that could be roasted. At every vegetable, I thought about roasting potential. If there was even a glimmer of roasting potential, I put it in the cart. I cannot wait to use this approach at the farmer's market. Of course, I may not be so eager to roast in the heat of midsummer, but we'll cross that bridge later.

More or less, I followed the roasting instructions in An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace.  (short review here). Basically, I poured a little olive oil on everything and roasted each vegetable separately at 375 degrees in Pyrex baking dishes or on cookie sheets. I put the ones that take the longest in first and let them start as I prepped the ones that don't need long roasting times. With the broccoli, I roasted some garlic, too. With the beets, I sprinkled balsamic vinegar with the olive oil and roasted them wrapped tightly in foil. I added garlic to the peppers, as well.

To me, roasted vegetables have more appeal than raw ones. The flavors are richer and roasting actually makes some nutrients more available. For vegetables that are known to adversely affect the thyroid, roasting mitigates the goitrogenic quality. All around, roasting makes jars of jewels for the refrigerator.

After roasting, the broccoli got a few splashes of lemon juice and everything got a wee bit of salt. Once, I've sprinkled the cauliflower with balsamic vinegar. That's pretty awesome.

When the vegetables are cooled, I packed them into glass dishes with lids or Mason jars. Wide mouth Mason jars are easiest. If a veggie was roasted with garlic, the garlic went into the jar with it. It's all a fairly simple, streamilined operation that really takes under an hour (except for the beets--beets take forever to roast, but they are so worth it).

Then came a most interesting development. I was making "normal" dinners for my family and I adapted them for me, taking cues from the roasted veggies in the fridge. I began Instagramming them, mostly to see if my friend would join me in posting her salad pictures. #saladeveryday was born. So far, it's just me (and a few stray people I don't recognize using the same hashtag), but it's been great fun. Nicholas noticed that I was using bits and pieces of their meal to make my salad and wondered aloud if every meal could be so adapted. So far, so good. From my Instagram notes (you can find these @heartofmyhome):

::Roasted chicken, roasted peppers, roasted broccoli, roasted beets and spring mix. (The kids had roasted chicken and borccoli and potatoes. Mike was out of town the week this experiment began.)

::Mixed greens, baby spinach, roasted balsamic cauliflower, roasted beets, roasted peppers and cedar plank grilled salmon. 

::Romaine, spinach, roasted peppers, green apple, avocado, bacon, a wee bit of pepper-jack, and olive oil/lemon/southwest seasoning (The kids had a baked potato bar with most of those ingredients as topping choices)

::Romaine lettuce, beef, braised mushrooms and onions, roasted beets, shredded carrots. (The kids had beef stroganoff and I pulled off my meat and mushroom before making the cream sauce.)

::a salad at Chipotle on grocery shopping day;-)

::Wilted arugula, roasted peppers (two kinds), olives, roasted asparagus, a fried egg, topped with crumbled bacon (The kids had spaghetti carbonara. Nicholas was totally impressed with this salad solution. I think he thought there was no way to convert that meal. The egg idea is in An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. I should have oached it but I was too lazy.)

::Romaine lettuce with chili (no beans) on top. (The kids had chili with beans.)

::My very favorite: Christian made grilled chicken, creamed spinach, and mashed potatoes for dinner. I had a salad with fresh spinach, the chicken, and the last little bit of veggies from all the jars. Then, I went grocery shopping the next day and began again.

For the chicken, mix equal parts orange juice, wheat free soy sauce, and honey. Add a little bit of chili sauce with garlic (in the Asian food aisle), to taste, and pour it over however many boneless, skinless chicken thighs you need to feed your family. Let marinate for an hour or more. Grill outside. Delish. They were fighting over the last piece. Sorry about the lack of "real" recipe; we made it up as we went.

I'm definitely on a roll, loving this way of looking at food and eating better than previously. One reason it's hard to cook differently for myself than my family and avoid those things that make me sick is that I often find myself at the hungry hour, without a real plan or provisions. This method assures that there is always a really good, hearty salad in the refrigerator. Works for me! 

The plan is to keep eating a #saladeveryday. You can find them on Instagram.