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Summer Salads

It’s summertime. It’s noon and 95°F – that’s 35°C for the civilized world. With the heat index and all the stuff they calculate to make it look even hotter, it’s 104°F – or, 40°C. But Fahrenheit  or Celsius, it’s hot, humid, and miserable. And only July 2nd. I can’t wait for August.

One of my retirement dreams is to drop a couple of pounds – and Victor feels the same way.  If I only learned one thing in all the years I worked in Nutrition and Dietetics, it is that dramatic diets and diet changes do not work. They’re unsustainable and make everyone around you want to avoid you because they don’t want to hear about your eating habits. Again.

They’re only great for the guy selling the book.

We eat well – real food, cooked from scratch – but we eat too much. Portions are too big. At any given moment, the neighborhood could drop by unannounced for dinner – and there would be plenty of food to feed them. The goal, then, is to cook a bit less so we eat a bit less – as well as make sure the foods we’re eating are filling us up and not merely empty calories.

I started it with the little cakes. I’m not cutting out dessert – I LIKE dessert – I’m just going to be making a small cobbler instead of a 10″ deep-dish pie. I’m also going to work on my bread baking. I’ll make the same doughs as before, but start portioning them into much smaller loaves – and freezing the dough for another day. Little changes.

It’s still really early in Retirement Mode and since Monday morning has been the shopping day for quite a while, I did my shopping. First, to Wegmans to pick up the basics and then down to Gentile’s for produce.

I see at least a weekly trek down there, if not a couple treks a week. I finally figured out how to get there by avoiding all of the major roads – and it’s now less than 15 minutes to produce not wrapped in plastic or portioned in plastic containers. And they’re busy – they turn their produce over. Always fresh and seasonally local.

My eating habits are such that I’m much more likely to eat a peach in a fruit salad than to eat one out of hand, so we always have a big fruit salad or a mixed  melon salad in the ‘fridge during the summer. And bean salads, grain salads…

They’re easy to prepare, last a long time, and are a great way to utilize leftovers. There are no real recipes for these things – it’s merely what’s in the ‘fridge or pantry and brought together with a dressing.

I use fresh herbs from the garden, olive oil, and whatever vinegar I happen to grab – there are many different ones on the shelf. S&P…

The bean salad was fresh green beans that I blanched, a can of pinto beans, a can of black beans, green onions, and a bit of orange bell pepper. I used aronia berry vinegar and olive oil.

And it tastes great!

Bean Salad

The second salad is made with hard white wheat berries from Palouse. You could use any wheat berry, farro, spelt…  even barley or a good whole grain rice. Any of them will work.

Wheatberry salad

I added a diced yellow zucchini, orange bell pepper, pimentos, red onion, fresh herbs from the garden, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Plus a bit of salt & pepper. Another salad that could stay in the ‘fridge for days… not that we’ll let it, however.

You can build upon these in as many ways as you can think – and then a dozen more.

Have fun!

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