Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Sustenance

I have been reading a lot lately.  Kind of hit and miss through lots of books, many on healthy eating and lifestyle.  The one I just devoured, reading almost the whole thing straight through, was Jillian Michael's Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body!
Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets
 to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones
for a Hot and Healthy Body!
--If her experience, thoughtful know-how, reasonable approach-- and very fit body-- don't speak to her credibility, I don't know what does.  :-)

Anyway, it was a very informative book, full of charts to help show what foods help and hurt what physical conditions and processes, plus plenty of good instruction and guidance.  This includes meal ideas and recipes.  A lot of it I already knew, but I can always hear it again until it finally sinks in!

We already eat fairly healthily in terms of whole, made-from-scratch, rather than processed foods.  But it's still a challenge for me to get all kinds of veggies in, and enough protein, especially for lunch or snacks.

For the workday feast on Saturday, I knew I wanted (the girls) to make pasta salad.  I also knew I didn't want to use white-flour pasta, but whole grain.  However, I was only going to Costco, and the only whole grain pasta they offer is spaghetti, which didn't seem a good choice for the salad.  I decided it was a good time to try quinoa in a cold recipe, which we'd never done. (Previous discussions on quinoa here)

Princess Artiste cooked up 2 cups of quinoa with 4 cups of water, and when it was cool, mixed it with 
 - small strips of Pepper Jack cheese
 - chopped yellow, orange, and red bell peppers
 - coarsely diced tomato
 - sliced black olives
 - diced celery
 - sliced pepperoncini
 - diced onion.  

I made a dressing of 
 - olive oil
 - pomegranate red wine vinegar (approx 2:1 ratio, oil:vinegar)
 - juice of 1/2 a lime
 - black pepper
 - pressed garlic clove
 - oregano
 - parsley
 - a squirt of blue agave nectar
 - a dash of cayenne pepper
 - a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese.

I was wondering if we'd like the texture, but it was a great success with the pasta salad fans.  

With the possible exception of the cheeses, the ingredients are all unquestionably healthy.  The veggies of all sorts and colors offer a variety of vitamins and antioxidants. There is healthy fat from the olive oil, and fiber, more healthy fat, and protein from the quinoa, so an all-around good option... A meal in a bowl.  

This type of salad lends itself to variety to keep it from getting boring... I could serve it over spinach to add more healthy components available in 'leafy greens.'  I could vary the types of veggies, adding things like asparagus and summer squash.  I could stray from the slightly Italian flavors, and lean toward Asian or Greek, with different vinaigrette dressing and an appropriate adjustment in vegetables.

I could really live on this salad, and may for most of the summer!  Actually, since a lot of the ingredients we used Saturday are available through the winter, it could be a decent, year-around choice.

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