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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crazy salad cravings

Despite losing almost 200 pounds, I still can't stand the heat. Sure, I tolerate it a bit better at 138 pounds than I did at 335 pounds, but it still makes me grumpy. I don't like to sweat unless I'm at the gym, and I just hate the lethargy that comes with summer in the Central Valley.

But there is one perk to the weather heating up, my body develops a craving for salads that almost defies description. If my husband was a salad eater, I would probably never turn on my stove in the summer months. I could survive entirely on cold ingredients tossed in a bit of dressing and be perfectly happy.

I don't usually crave basic salads. I'm not the type to crave a Caesar or cobb salad. Sure, I'll eat them, but when it comes to my cravings, I always want something out of the ordinary. This week, my strongest cravings have been for tomatoes and strawberries.

The tomato craving led to me spending three consecutive days living on caprese salads (sliced fresh mozzarella cheese with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar). There is just no flavor that can compare to those found in a caprese salad. The sweet tomatoes and basil blend so nicely with the mild cheese and tangy balsamic vinegar. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

To finally feed my craving for strawberries, I picked up a flat of the luscious berries at a stand at the corner of Corral Hollow and Valpico roads in rural Tracy.

When I got home, I washed the berries and surveyed the contents of my fridge to figure out lunch. I settled on a salad, of course. I took some leftover baked chicken breast, chopped it up and added it to a bowl with about a cup of spinach greens. To that, I added two gigantic sliced strawberries, a quarter-cup of shelled pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons of ground toasted flaxseed and an ounce of crumbled chevre (soft goat cheese). I drizzled 2 tablespoons of Safeway-brand orange-poppyseed dressing...and it was a little bit of heaven in a bowl.

It hit the spot, kept me cool and offered me plenty of protein. Who could ask for more?

If any of you have favorite salad recipes you'd like to share, post them as a comment. I know I'm always looking for new ideas. I'm sure others are, too. Now if you'll excuse me, I have quinoa to make so I can take the Aztec Platter that I posted last week to work this week for lunch.


Andrea said...

I don't exactly have a recipe, but I have a question. Where in the store do you find quinoa? I'm still learning about this healthy eating thing, and this isn't something I've purchased before. Is it like couscous? I'm not even sure what it is but I figured it's worth a try (especially after viewing that delectable looking salad you posted the picture of last week).

Tonya said...

Quinoa is considered a grain, and it should be next to the couscous. I get mine at Trader Joe's, and it comes in a little box. However, if you use a different grocery story, just ask an employee where it's kept. You'll likely have to spell it for them, but they should be able to point you in the right direction. And the salad is delectable. Had some for lunch today, in fact. It made my mouth very happy.

Holly said...

ok- so I am no where NEAR as creative as you with the salads- but in my perfect world I would eat this salad everyday.

Green leaf or Romaine
seared chicken breast
mandarin oranges (they taste sooo good)
I really like to throw the chicken on my salad while it is still warm- though thats not practical when you are packing it for work. (Ever tried cooked lettuce?)
I'm not hooked on any one dressing- though my sad confession is that I am rather addicted to Thousand Island right now. My next favorites:
Red Wine Vinaigrette

Tonya said...

Sounds yummy...thanks for sharing!

Tonya said...

Just finished the yummiest salad.

Here's what I put in it:

Crimini mushrooms
Fresh mozzarella
Chopped chicken breast
Toasted pumpkin seeds

And then I made a vinaigrette using Matthews Farms organic olive oil, orange juice, and salt and pepper for dressing.

Almost too good for words!

Tonya said...

Today's lunch will feature yet another yummy salad creation that feeds my craving for BBQ:

Cremini mushrooms
Shredded carrot
Frozen corn (keeps salad cold while it thaws)
Chopped Chicken breast
Toasted pumpkin seeds (Mel, you have me hooked)
Cheddar cheese

Ranch dressing mixed with a dollop of spicy BBQ sauce

Voila! My very own Spicy BBQ Chicken Salad!

Danyele said...

hi tonya.. i'm so glad that you've joined our webring. i was reading your blog on the tracy press (i think that's right)site and then one day i couldn't link to it. i'm from turlock originally so i know what you mean about the heat. i've been making my own chipotle ranch dressing lately .. i finally found chipotles in adobo at my local foodmaxx. can't wait until i can get those amazing beefsteak tomatoes at the roadside stands in the valley when i go to visit my family - they're a piece of heaven every summer!

Tonya said...

Oh my, Danyele! I grew up in Hilmar. I miss all of those roadside stands. Here in Tracy, our stands are pretty limited. There are incredible strawberries in Banta, but that's about it. We do have a weekly farmers market, though. That helps. I miss the stand on Lander Avenue, between Hilmar and Turlock that has yummy strawberries, zucchinis and peppers. Makes me almost consider driving that direction -- almost ;-)

Thanks for the welcome. I hope you stop by more often.

Tonya said...

Had dinner last night at a friend's house and he made this tasty salad:

Chinese cabbage, shredded
Green onions, sliced
Mandarin oranges
Package of ramen noodles, crushed

Take seasoning packet from Ramen and whisk with olive oil, rice vinegar and a tablespoon of sweetener.

Toss with salad to coat; best if salad has 10 minutes or so to sit in dressing before serving.