I'm not really one to make resolutions each year.
I do hope to grow, get better, do better, find more peace every year...
I kinda thought that was just called wisdom and maturity??
I can't say that come every January 1, I start to evaluate my diet, promise to exercise more and eat right...honestly I feel like I have been doing that for many years.
The truth is I am really careful with my diet, not to the point of fanatic, but I really do eat healthy. I know you see lots of cookies, cakes and things from me, but honestly its my creative outlet and I love to cook and bake for others. Always have.
I literally never eat a cookie. I truly think it's been YEARS since I ate one of my cookies. Luckily I have a very good live in taste tester and being home for the last 10 months brought out my culinary skills again....had some time on my hands:)
Having said that, with all my careful eating and my regular exercising the pounds have crept up, and I just haven't felt great.
Yeah, I'm relatively small, what am I complaining about? I'm healthy at a time we are under seige with a virus....
but the deal is I seriously restrict myself so why is this happening and I don't feel so good..tired among other things?
It's annoying to try so hard and not feel your best.
So I embarked on a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free regime to start the year.
I do not intend to become vegan. I will repeat I do not intend to become vegan.
I am however going to try to do a small trial of this as I have read many many articles on the benefits to "resetting" "detox" if you will your system...the idea of vegan food was not appealing to me. The recommendation by a trusted anatomy professional I know, Emilie Perz, and a number of others I researched said lots of greens and fresh vegetables.
I have been doing it for 10 days and I can't say the world turned upside down, but I do see a benefit....
so I decided to do what I know, and that is to make things that are appealing, delicious and something you may even want to serve when you entertain at home.
I have a roster of absolutely delicious, creative combinations for you...
and they are ALL vegan and 100% dairy free and gluten free!
To Start with I was so in the mood for Italian food so I created a salad with so many of the flavors you would find in a meal like that.
Here you have the Italian Job
I often find I have tomatoes going ripe faster than I can use them so I will simply roast them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to get some extra time out of my grocery purchases! These hold well for days in the fridge. I decided the flavor was just perfect and really required very little to turn it into a salad dressing.
Roasted Tomato Dressing
1 container cherry tomatoes- washed and sliced in half
( I often use the assorted colors- they don't have to all be red)
drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
season with salt & pepper
I use pink Himalayan salt
I also took a half of a red onion and tossed it the same way as the tomatoes and cooked it same time. It's an additional plus to the salad!
1. roast in the oven at 400 degrees for approx 20 minutes
you want them soft but not completely "broken"
You can use these to top your salad or other main course dishes and they keep for days in the fridge.
To make the salad dressing
Put half the tomatoes in a food processor or blender
2. add 1- 11/2 tbl sun-dried tomato paste
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
Add approx 1/4 olive oil
you can add a tiny bit more olive oil if you like the dressing thinner...
it will be fairly thick but it will nicely cling to your green when you mix the salad.
Or keep it thick and use it as a chutney for a sandwich or any proteins
This is the tomato puree that has the consistency of chutney. I do like it a bit thick, but to extend the amounts and make it more dressing like you will be adding olive oil to this to create the "dressing".
The "Italian Job" is the most complicated of the salads as it has another ingredient that requires prepping.
The "melted mushrooms" make it feel like a true main course and give you a meaty flavor.
Here's the rundown of the whole salad...
My "Italian" Salad
( recipe below)
( they taste better toasted but i'm way to lazy for another step on this salad)
Vegan shredded Parmesan Cheese
( or of course, use the real stuff if you wish)
Roasted Red Onion
(if you added that step in your tomato cooking- I highly advise it:))
1 cup oyster mushrooms, cut into small clusters
1 cup Maitake mushroom (1-2 full maitake cluster), cut into small clusters
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon white or black pepper
slice mushrooms, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a heavy pan and turn the stove on to medium medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, place all mushrooms into the pan and begin to stir with a wooden spoon, allowing the mushrooms to be coated in the olive oil.
Once the mushrooms are evenly coated with olive oil, turn the heat to medium, let the mushrooms sear on one side, stirring every minute or so.
After 3 minutes, add the salt and garlic powder ( or fresh garlic). Continue cooking for another 5 minutes and when the mushrooms begin to brown and crisp, add in the sliced onions and an additional tablespoon of olive oil. Continue to cook and stir often for another 5 minutes.
After about 8-12 minutes total cooking time, they should be crisp with a nice bite to them, and just beginning to brown. Sprinkle with pepper, and salt as needed and set to the side while you construct your salad.
this will make more than a few servings. Keep extras in the fridge for 2 days for additional salads or toppings.
NOTE*. I actually popped y whole salad in the microwave for 30 seconds or so...I wanted to see how it would turn out-
yes it wilts the spinach a bit but it was delcious, felt hearty and comforting for a winter evening. I think I will continue to have this salad warm.
Ok! I hope I didn't wear you out with the first recipe?!
This next salad is super simple!
I call it the "Kitchen Sink".
While I did actually craft this based on something I saw in a Fab NYC take out place- you can literally use anything. The trick to making it feel gourmet and tasty is to combine compatible flavors, but really most vegetables work together.
Here's the combo I like-
The Kitchen Sink
Watermelon Radish Shaved/sliced thin
( because they are so hard raw I feel sliced as thin as possible is best)
Sliced- raw yellow squash
( I had leftover roasted)
Lemon Tahini Dressing
I personally like to toss all the greens and half the toppings with the dressing and then add a few more toppings...it distributes the dressing best that way!
It was really good and would be ideal for a crudite platter too.
The Roasted Tomato Dressing also works really well with a salad with a Southwestern twist. This is another great combo using the Roasted Tomato Dressing. but you could definitely simply dress this combination with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
South of the Border Salad
A mix of Arugula and Mesclun
( I use organic from a can but rinse them 100%!)
Roasted Sweet Potato
( this is literally 1/4 of a sweet potato cut small and tossed with olive oil, s+p roasted 20 minutes at 400 degrees)
Slivered Green Apple
Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
few sliced sun-dried tomatoes
I had the roasted red onions from above...this is an easy to make staple that really lifts the salad up!
Roasted Tomato Salad Dressing
I just picked up this delicious set of olive oils from Brightland and was in need of champagne vinegar so I added that to my purchase. I think they are all delicious and if you don't feel like making dressings just toss your salads with some good quality olive oil and vinegar of your choice.
One more quick and easy salad combo for you.
Winter is considered citrus season and citrus is such an easy fruit to come by and the shelf life in the fridge is really pretty long.
It is a good staple to have around for quick additions and flavor.
I'm a big fan of Butter lettuce and citrus is just great with that.
Trying to eat vegan for the week I do miss my chicken and fish and feel like salad is just air sometimes...adding beets give some depth to the greens and is the filling component I needed.
Beet & Blood Orange Salad
Sliced Blood Oranges-or navel Oranges
( I usually mix the oranges)
Roasted Beets, chopped small
Crushed or Chopped Hazelnuts
(you could add a few shredded carrots too for texture)
This salad would be delicious with champagne vinegar and olive oil - but I did find a nice Herb Vinaigrette at Whole Foods that tasted great.
It was a bit hard to get inspired by salad, but once I began eating this way it took on a whole new approach to my healthy recipes.
As I said I am definitely not going to become Vegan.
My plan is to eat this way for 2-3 whole weeks and then add chicken and fish back in a couple days a week.
( I dont think I'll give up real ( and other cheeses) Parmesan forever but install amounts I found the substitute ok)
I crafted these recipes for anyone, they are all fresh and organic and whether you have an agenda for health or not they really all pack alot of flavor in each bite and are delicious.
Part of my the plan of action is to keep moving everyday too.
She has been a great help and guide to starting out this New Year's detox /& refresh.
It's crazy I used to plan my LA visits around her yoga classes so I could make sure I would get in the class!
Here I am in LA and I have to do the class online!
Times have changed, but sometimes it's time to make a change too...
Vegan or not- I hope you will enjoy all the salads!