Post-Holiday Salad and a Glimpse at the Grocery List

Ah, New Year’s Day.  A time for waking up (probably hungover) to a completely clean slate.  How many resolutions have you made this year?  Most of my “resolutions” are things I resolve to do all the time, so I’m not sure they count.  But there is something special about the start of a new year.  It’s always exciting to think about the things the coming year might hold.  And if nothing else, you can at least get excited that Christmas is less than a year away!  I can’t stop.  I’m sorry.  Wait, no I’m not– Christmas is the best.

Plus at Christmas I get to snuggle with this little lovebug-- how could it NOT be the best?!

Plus at Christmas I get to snuggle with this little lovebug– how could it NOT be the best?!

BUT, Christmas often means eating ALL of the high-calorie, artery-clogging foods.  And that is awesome, let’s be real.  But after several days of that, our bodies can get to feeling sluggish and kind of abused.  You know you’ve had too much junk food lately when you find yourself craving leafy greens.  Nobody should ever have to crave leafy greens.  But isn’t it cool that our bodies can do that?  Telling us what they need like that?  I wish my body was a little more talkative on the days I don’t feel like going to the gym.  But hey, you win some, you lose some.

After two weeks of this...

After two weeks of this…

and this...

and this…

and this...

and this…

you’re probably ready for something that looks more like this.

So here I am with a salad recipe, one of the zillions of healthy eating blog posts that inevitably crop up this time of year.  The nice thing about this salad is that it tastes pretty darn good.  So even if you’re sad to say goodbye to cookies and cheesy dips in favor of spinach and raw veggies, at least it will taste good to do it.

Asian Salad

Mandarin Thai Salad

This salad is a hybrid of my mom’s Mandarin Salad recipe and a Thai Peanut Dressing (also my mom’s) that I modified a bit.  The almonds and water chestnuts provide a nice, crunchy contrast to the mandarin oranges, and using a low-sodium soy sauce will keep the dressing from tasting too salty, which is my main gripe with most soy sauce-based recipes.  To make the salad, just toss together:

  • Baby Spinach
  • Mandarin Oranges, drained (can you even buy these fresh in the US?)
  • Water Chestnuts, drained, rinsed, and chopped in half
  • Thai Peanut Dressing, recipe below
  • Sugared Almonds, recipe below

To make the Sugared Almonds, cook 1/2 c. sliced almonds and 3 T. sugar in a small pan over medium heat.  Stir constantly until almonds are coated and sugar is dissolved– watch carefully, as they will burn easily.  Spread mixture on wax paper to cool, and store in airtight container.  If you can, store it in a people tight container too, because if you’re anything like me you’ll be reaching in their every five seconds to munch.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

Sugared Almonds

For the Thai Peanut Dressing, you’ll need 1 1/2 T. of each of the following: rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and soy sauce (again, the least sodium you can find); 1 T. peanut butter; 1 clove garlic, finely minced; and several drops of Sriracha– the more, the merrier, I say!  Whisk together all ingredients til smooth, and enjoy!

Thai Mandarin Salad

See? Easing into salad eating won’t be TOO bad.  Especially if you bury the healthiest part in toppings like BF does.

I thought I’d give a glimpse of my grocery list for the week as well.  Most of the meals I prepare in a given week are vegetarian, though I often keep fish or chicken in the freezer.  But other than BF’s lunch meat, our grocery cart doesn’t usually include anything meatier than eggs and chicken stock.  Since we’ve just returned from almost two weeks away from home, we had a lot to stock up on.  The walk home was not the lightest in the world 😉

Pantry Items:

  • Cheerios
  • Cinnamon Life
  • 2 boxes Giant brand Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
  • Giant brand Bay Leaves
  • 1 box Giant brand Rigatoni Pasta
  • Village Harvest Arborio Rice
  • 1 can Goya Chickpeas
  • 1 can Goya Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 can Coconut Milk (whatever brand is on sale, since one of them usually is– this week, it was Grace)
  • 2 bottles McCormick Vanilla Extract (buy one get one free post-holidays, woohoo!)
  • 2 bottles Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (also buy one get one free– can we make “bogof” a thing?  Is it a thing already?)
  • Parchment Paper, because I am lazy and don’t like washing baking sheets when I don’t have to

Refrigerated Items:

  • 2 quarts Nature’s Promise Vegetable Stock (usually I do the no sodium chicken, but BF’s sister will be in town this week and is a vegetarian, so we’re mixing it up a little)
  • 1 dozen Extra Large Eggs
  • 1 big (I don’t know how much.  It’s big.) block of the sharpest Giant brand Cheddar Cheese
  • Gruyere Cheese
  • 1 quart Skim Milk
  • 1 big (again, numbers are not my wheelhouse.  It’s the big one– 32 ounces, maybe?) plain, nonfat Chobani
  • Preservative-free Chicken (lunchmeat)
  • Preservative-free Ham (lunchmeat)
  • 2 medium Zucchini
  • 1 bag baby Carrots
  • 1 bag Baby Spinach
  • 1 bag Arugula

Non-Regrigerated Fruits/Veggies:

  • 2 Pomegranates
  • 4 Vidalia Onions (these plus the stock, bay leaves, baguette, and gruyere are a part of my plan to try making French Onion Soup this weekend– cross your fingers!)
  • 5 Gala Apples, because DC is lame and doesn’t understand that McIntosh and Cortland are where it’s at
  • 3 Yams
  • 2 quarts Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 Baguette, because French Onion Soup without the cheesy toast on top is just not French Onion Soup

I have no idea if anyone will be interested in this at all.  I really like reading these kinds of posts on other blogs, but I’m a nerd for this kind of thing, so maybe I’m just a weird anomaly.  Or extremely nosy.  I also lovedddd that photo series that made the Internet rounds a while back featuring families around the world and their groceries– so fascinating (not to mention a real grounding, Americans-have-so-much-while-others-have-so-little moment).  This week cost a bit more because we needed to replace so much, but a typical weekly trip to the grocery store costs us somewhere in the 80s.  I will be the first to admit that budgeting groceries is not my forte, but I try to buy Giant brand where I can and to make the most of whatever is on sale with our Giant card.  I try to make sure the grocery cart has a heavy emphasis on produce and that what isn’t produce is a healthier version of itself (so double fiber whole-wheat bread and skim milk).  Eating healthy food is doable if you’re willing to invest the time (not to mention the money) to do it, and if you’re fortunate enough to have both those things to spare.  And if you’re really lucky you can even make it taste good too– who knew?!  That isn’t to say, however, that you have to give up the bad stuff completely…everything in moderation, right?  So the recipes for the English Toffee and Cherry Thumbprints I photographed above will appear here someday.  Just not today.  Apparently, 1/3 of resolutions don’t even make it to the end of January.  So these guys will see you on Feb 1st.  Happy New Year!