Monthly Archives: January 2016

Build a Better Salad

Build A Better Salad

We love salads…BIG salads. Whole meal salads are what I’m referring to here. These are complete meals in a bowl and not just with a little lettuce, tomato and cheese. These salads are filled with assorted vegetables, protein sources, and fruit. What’s even better is the fact that they are totally flexible in what is put in them, so they can be tailored to individual likes and dislikes as well as what’s available at the moment. These salads are better (to us) than any salad we can get in a restaurant because they’re made the way WE like them, with ingredients WE prefer! You too can build a better salad, YOUR way. The following are the basics of how I build a better salad…

Start with a lettuce bed of mixed greens. Use a mixture of assorted greens as the foundation of your salad. Use whatever you can get and mix them up…iceberg, Romaine, green and/or red leaf lettuces, arugula, baby kale, spring mix, spinach, red or green cabbage, etc. Get creative!

Add a big assortment of fresh veggies. Again, get creative. Use what you have available to you and don’t be afraid to try something new. Suggestions include: cucumber, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini squash, celery, red, green, and/or yellow bell pepper, fresh broccoli and/or cauliflower, lightly steamed (and cooled) asparagus, jicama, red or yellow onion, scallions, chives, minced garlic, lightly steamed (and cooled) green beans, roasted (and cooled) Brussels sprouts… Explore the produce isle of your favorite grocery store and let your imagine run wild!

Add a protein source (or two…or three). I always add thawed frozen green peas to our salads. They make a nice addition to any green salad and are packed full of protein. They’re for starters. From there, I add garbanzo beans (to my salad), diced cheese, assorted nuts of choice, and sometimes sliced hard boiled egg. If you’re a fan of meats in your salads, thinly sliced grilled steak or chicken breast would be a flavorful addition. Grilled salmon would be a prized addition, too. Whether you add meat or not, there are plenty of options to choose from so that your salad will provide enough protein to meet anyone’s needs.

Build a Better Salad

Build a Better Salad

Add fruit for color, sweetness and eye candy. We started adding fruit to our meal salads after my husband returned from a trip to Hawaii with his college jazz band. He found that restaurants there added fruit to their salads and he really enjoyed it. Thanks Hawaii! Good fruits to include are fresh or canned pineapple, chopped fresh apple, blueberries, strawberries, tangerine (Clementine) sections, grapes (seedless would be preferred). Even diced pear would make a good addition! Try fresh raspberries for added sweet/tang!

Dress your salad…but don’t overdo it. Dressings are added to salads for flavor, moisture and binding properties. The problem with dressings is that many people simply add too much. This can make salads unhealthful to eat. The veggies and fruit are not the culprits. It’s the dressing. The above salad suggestions would go well with just about any dressing you choose. Just strive to go light on the dressing and still enjoy the wonderful flavors of the vegetables, fruits, and protein foods you used to construct your meal. If you can’t taste the other components, then you have too much dressing. Make it your goal to avoid using too much dressing. This will keep your salads healthful and calorie-controlled.

We usually use oil and vinegar as our salad dressing. The ratio will vary according to individual tastes, but a general rule of thumb is 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. A lot of flavor variation can be obtained by using different vinegars at different times: red wine, apple cider, tarragon, raspberry, and rice vinegars all lend different flavors to a salad, so experiment. Added herbs can also bring a new flavor to your salad. Suggestions include: oregano, dill, parsley, and tarragon (used individually, not all in the same salad). Get creative!

Here’s a video showing the construction of the salads in the featured photo. Enjoy! Judi

 

Whole Wheat Flax Bread (Bakery Recipe)

Whole Wheat Flax Bread (Bakery Recipe)

There were select breads that sold consistently well when I ran my bakery. Whole Wheat Flax Bread was one of them. It’s a light wheat bread with flax meal added to it. It’s wholesome and delicious! The recipe is below, followed by a video on how to make it. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Flax Bread
Makes 2 Loaves

1-1/3 cups milk
1/3 cup honey
1-1/2 oz (3 Tbsp) butter
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 lb (3-1/4 cups) bread flour
7-1/2 oz (1-1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
1/4 oz (2-1/4 tsp) RapidRise yeast
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground flaxseed

Heat milk, honey and butter in a saucepan to 120-130°F. Meanwhile, place dry ingredients (including yeast) into a mixer bowl; stir to combine ingredients. Add warmed liquid plus eggs to the dry mixture. Stir with a spatula to moisten dry ingredients. Using a dough hook and a stand mixer, mix on low speed for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth. Alternatively, the dough may be hand kneaded on a lightly floured board for 8 to 10 minutes until smooth. Be careful not to work in too much extra flour.

Remove dough hook and spray the dough with nonstick spray, and (optionally) cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap to retain moisture. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

On a lightly floured board, divide dough into 2 equal parts. Form each part into a loaf and place each into a greased 8″x5″ loaf pan. Allow dough to rise until doubled in a warm place. Preferred method: place a medium size pot of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven. Turn the oven light on (but do not turn the oven heat on). Place UNCOVERED loaves on upper rack in the middle of the oven. Close oven door and allow loaves to rise. Alternative rising method: Spray loaves with nonstick spray, cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Place in a warm place and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size or until an indentation remains in the loaf when lightly pressed with a finger.

Whole Wheat Flax Bread (Sliced)

Whole Wheat Flax Bread (Sliced)

Remove pan of water and unbaked loaves from oven after they have proofed (if using that method). Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake loaves in the middle of the oven in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until golden. Brush with melted butter and allow bread to cool on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy this fabulous bread any way you eat sliced loaf bread!

Setting Health, Wellness and Fitness Goals

Well, it’s that time of year again, when people are setting resolutions and goals to (hopefully) achieve in the new year. In reality, many people do not realize those goals. They keep them for a little while, then they silently slip away often without notice.

I too played that game in my earlier years, especially when it came to exercise. I was not a “habitual” exerciser yet I knew how important it was. I knew I would feel better and be healthier if I exercised on a regular basis. Yet, I’d start a program and it wouldn’t last long. If I got interrupted only once from my newly established “routine”, it went down the drain. Such is the case with way too many people.

Then one day I had a horrible health-related episode (not going there right now). THAT episode sparked me into realizing I wasn’t doing myself any good with my off and on exercise regimen. So, I decided once and for all I would tackle it. Here’s what I did…

(1) I truthfully examined my daily schedule to see if I could find a time of day when I would be the LEAST interrupted. After all, it was those “interruptions” that would literally wipe out my regimen. I found it… EARLY in the day. I started setting my alarm clock one hour earlier than I was used to. (Sure it wasn’t easy, but so what!) I would then get up before anyone else in the house, before the phone started ringing, before I had to get the kids going off to school, even before my husband got out of bed! It WORKED! I put in 45 minutes to 1 hour of exercise regularly, without interruption and that started what became a lifelong habit (from there on out).

(2) I developed a “motto” that has literally kept me going for decades. Really. I was 38 years old at the time and wanted to be in shape by age 40. Not a bad or unrealistic goal. So…here’s the motto or goal list I established:

I wanted to be…
Firm at 40
Fit at 50
Sexy at 60
Sophisticated at 70
Elegant at 80

Well, at the time I couldn’t think of anything for 90, so I pondered that literally for decades. Recently I ran all this by our younger son and he came up with the next line…

Naughty at 90 (LOVE it!!)
With that I was able to finish it out with…
With God’s help, still standing at 100! Done

The above goal list or motto has kept me moving for decades (I won’t share where I’m at in the scheme of decades). It worked.

Initially I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it. Now it’s well ingrained in my memory banks so no written reminder is needed.

I suggest YOU set such a goal list, especially if you’re having trouble keeping those ever-renewed new year resolutions. Making changes for our health’s sake should be a lifelong endeavor. Not for 6 weeks, 2 months, 6 months or 2 weeks. The best way to realize change is to be consistent and to do it over time. If you get off the band wagon, forgive yourself. Life happens. Then get back on it as soon as possible and carry onward. That’s the only way you’ll really benefit and gain the health and wellness you’re wanting.

These simple tricks have worked for me. Starting out, I was no different than the average person, knowing I needed to exercise, but having an almost impossible time doing it. I truly hope my story helps spark something in you that will get you moving and living a healthier lifestyle. One you know you need, but have had a hard time establishing. Let me know if this works for you.

Best wishes and happy new year to all!
Judi