Saturday, January 14, 2012

Overthinking a simple salad

I think too much. Not in a good way, like I'm always sitting around pondering DeCartes, but, rather, I  overthink things that really don't need my gray matter to put in extra time. Food is one of those things that I overthink--not the making of food so much as how I consume food.

I was a vegetarian for about a decade (until the night I fell asleep watching No Reservations and dreamed I was eating lamb. I woke up from that nap an omnivore--a voraciously hungry omnimore). I wasn't a vegetarian for ethical reasons--I think animals should be treated with respect while they're alive, but I have no problems with humans consuming flesh; I told others that I didn't eat meat for health reasons, but my limited diet wasn't well-maintained and I usually felt tired and run-down, not healthy. Truth is, I was a vegetarian because I needed to impose order in my life at a time when my mental health was spinning a bit out of control--the narrow parameters of vegetarianism were perfect for granting me a false sense of control while I moved through a world that I didn't understand in the least bit.

I eat meat now, and I love it, but I still fall back on old habits imposing order on the way I eat. It's not compulsive and totalitarian like my adopting vegetarianism--in fact, I think the end result is pretty healthy.

Here's an example: On Friday nights, Carla and I do burger night. It's the only night when the big kids don't eat with us, so we go nuts making the most gourmet burgers we can think up. (We'll definitely visit burger night as a topic here soon...they're just so good that we forget to take pictures of them until after we've cleared our plates.) On Saturday mornings, I have a burger night guilt hangover. I know it's a holdover from my years as a vegetarian, but I always feel the need to eat an outrageously healthy lunch. So today, when my stomach started rumbling and the kids sat down to eat their fish sticks, I started grabbing produce out of the fridge to whip up something good.

This is what we ended up with--a couscous salad made with apples, celery, carrots, grapes, onions, in a blueberry vinaigrette. The couscous base was an easy choice, as we had some left over from dinner the other night. I whipped up the vinaigrette using blueberry juice from some frozen blueberries I dethawed in the microwave and gave the kids. Oh, and I tossed some celery leaves on top after I plated it because they look nice. (Don't they look nice?)

Ingredients: couscous; apples, celery, carrots, grapes, onions (chopped and/or sliced). For the vinaigrette, mix blueberry juice; apple cider and olive oil at a ratio of 1:3; and salt and pepper to taste--just dump it all into a lidded container and shake it up, then pour it over your chopped produce, stir it up, and plop it onto the couscous. Oh, and then toss some of those pretty celery leaves on there. Easy peasy.

While I've got you, I need to take a second to sing the praises of this little machine--it's an old-fashioned apple peeler/corer/slicer and it makes stuff like this (not to mention apple pie on a whim) super easy. You can get one on Amazon--they're pretty cheap and they are awesome. Go get one.