Thursday, July 29, 2010

salad days

Ahhhh, summer. Everything is just so EASY in the summer. In the winter you have to *cook*. In the summer, you can just… throw things in a bowl, basically.

Yes, you have to chop them… but I chop recreationally.

Today’s fabulous protein-packed post-workout lunch included a fun new salad:


A chopped carrot, a chopped Monterey Jack string cheese, half a chopped apple, and turkey, all dressed in homemade parsley dressing. Scrumpsh!

I really have become *really* conscious of where everything I eat comes from. Which is important to me, but also sort of annoying. It was easier mentally (though certainly not physically) when everyone just grew everything themselves- you knew where it came from! The apple gets four stars (local) the carrots do all right too (organic but not local), and the cheese, though real food in a fairly natural form, is just string cheese from Safeway.

As for the turkey, what are your thoughts? I went to Trader Joe’s seeking out the highest possible standard of deli meat and this is what they had:


With ground beef, it seems pretty clear that 100% grass fed is the way to go, with local being the gold standard. An advantage of that is it can be purchased in bulk at Costco and is less pricey. That being said, I don’t want to (and shouldn’t) eat red meat every day (especially ostensibly in the interests of environmentalism! That’s insane! It has a huge carbon impact!)

I bought a free range local chicken at the farmer’s market the other week (it was so horrifically expensive! Also, I’m afraid to cook it because if I make it poorly it was a huge investment!).

Anyway, I’m less clear on deli turkey. Any ethical meat pros out there? What should I look for?

The rest of lunch:


The remainder of the apple with some PB, and some soup.

The soup is Trader Joe’s roasted corn and poblano flavah, which I bought for the first time.

Trader Joe’s soups are so SPORADIC! I like that you can get them in those cardboard containers so they don’t taste metally, but the quality is so varied! The carrot-ginger, butternut, and roasted red pepper and tomato are amazing, but the black bean is hella boring and this corn one kind of tastes like feet.

So I put on scads of hot sauce.


And then it tasted fine. The smiley helps. I love a smiley face bowl in the summertime!

So for the grilled lamb on Sunday, the recipe instructed you to make a sauce for the lamb by mixing some of the marinade (that did not go on the raw meat!) with chopped diced tomatoes.

No one got it. It didn’t look like sauce. It was confusing. So we had a lot of leftover chopped tomatoes. Fortunately, those tomatoes were in a home where no food goes to waste. Ever. Ever ever. And so they live on in… gorgeously colorful taco salad filling!  


The leftover tomatoes, a can of black beans, half an avocado, an ear of corn, and a sprinkling of taco seasoning. So yummy!

Taco salad is one of those things I love to make at home and never order in restaurants.

Because a “salad” should not have your entire day’s allotment of saturated fat in it, in the form of cheese, sour cream, fried chips, etc. etc. etc. Quite honestly, sour cream has never particularly done it for me, the chips on taco salads are always inordinately greasy, etc. etc. etc.

That is not to say, however, that when making a taco salad I do not like some crunch.

Oh, I like some crunch.


As usual, we are out of tortilla chips. I kind of want to get some Food Should Taste Good chips, just cause everyone raves about them and they’re a whole grain… yet I am too lazy.

Anyway, these utilized some of the 10,000 corn tortillas currently in my fridge.

Just take however many 6 inch corn tortillas you want, cut them into sixths, and put on a cooking spray’d pan. Then give them another spray, and if you so desire season them with salt or taco seasoning, and put them in a toaster oven until just browned on the edges.


They joined other ingredients on an attractive toppings plate:


The chips, pepper jack cheese, and some nice crunchy Romaine.

I obviously topped my finished taco salad with dousings of Franks Red Hot.


Then I invented kind of a bizarre microwaved dessert. I was going for peaches and cream?


I combined half a nectarine, the last 1/4 cup of a container of cottage cheese, 2 T flour (I used white whole wheat), 1/2 tsp of stevia baking mix, and 1/4 tsp of baking powder.

I microwaved all of that on half power in various increments… it probably ended up being about 3 minutes total?

Anyway, it kind of looked and tasted like baby food.


Experiments. What’s to lose?

I mainly want to give Safeway some credit for having a really high quality and affordable organic brand. Tip of the hat to you, Safeway!


I went to the farmer’s market today where I was informed that this was the last week for the incredibly sweet nectarine variety I’ve been eating with such gusto! *Sob*

So I bought nine.

However, though we say goodbye to old friends, there are new arrivals. Including STRIPEY SQUASH!


Longtime readers may remember me falling in love with this last summer. Apparently the variety is actually called Zephyr Squash. It is SUPER sweet and delicious (and come on just so cute!)



Fresh beans that I have on assurance from the farmers taste like black eyed peas (!) and oooooooooookra! So much love. This is far from the only produce for the week: this is the Thursday morning  from Annandale haul.

Then there’s the Thursday night from Ballston (where my mama will likely pick up tomatoes and blueberries, as she is wont to do most Thursdays), the Saturday morning from Falls Church, and the Sunday midday (after church) from Potomac. Hurray for the explosion of farmer’s markets in my area!

Oh, incidentally, yes those veggies are in plastic bags- they are ALL reused.


Rhea (Greek Feaster) said...

i liked hearing (errrr... reading) your standards re: food. i've only recently gotten into that same thang after complaining for 100 years about the price difference between organic and conventional goods. i'm growing up!
i also appreciate you showin' some love for safeway: proof that not all "good" food comes from whole foods!
i'd say you did alright with the deli turk. because honestly, you did the best you could given the options, and if we always agonized over being perfect with our food choices, we'd have long beards and quite a chill from standing before the deli case forever.
that's my story and i'm stickin' to it.

Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen said...

So jealous of your stripey squash! :)

Also, after watching Food Inc. in the spring, I convinced myself I was going to only support local and organic meats and agriculture...unfortunately, I quickly reverted to me "what's on sale" point of view, which is usually NOT the "healthiest" or "most humane." Since I eat a mostly veggie diet, I actually don't think about it too much...but I know I should.

I just love pineapple to much to eat everything local.

And I can be cheap.

Astra Libris said...

"I chop recreationally." Best sentence ever! I chop recreationally too! :-)

I think you made an excellent choice with the TJ's turkey - I make similar choices myself, as I can't afford the farmers market chickens either! Instead, I try to purchase meat from a local grocery here that has humane certified, free-range chickens that do cost more than the standard factory chicken, of course, but are much less expensive than local, organic chickens (sadly). Ultimately, they're affordable, but still an ethical choice, I think - hooray!

Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear said...

Loving the salad in your post, mmm!

Megan D said...

Stripey squash?! I love it! I also loooove that taco salad you made. YUM. I don't eat a whole lot of meat so I'm not the best "ethics" expert! I think it's awesome you are interested in it though. More people should be!!