How About a Salad?

I’m not a stranger to the life hack. You can see my video about butternut squash here: 

And I have certainly tried many many, many tricks to get myself to eat healthier. Right now, I’m trying to eat a salad or at least lots of greens at every meal.

Over the years, I had to admit that all of the diet plans I tried had one thing in common: salad. A recent try involved a lovely nutritionist from suburban New York who telephoned me once a month to tell me how everything sacred in this world is actually killing you. Wait, I think it was more like: whatever you're eating. you're doing it wrong. Like how she asked me to go through what I ate that day. I told her I had avocado toast for lunch, feeling so much like Gwyneth Paltrow as I said it. She said, “That’s great. Next time, how about instead of toast, salad?”

So, the people who spend their lives figuring out what we should eat are telling us to eat salad. I do pretty well at dinner and I now have eggs with spinach or a green smoothie at breakfast. But lunch is my weak point. I guess I thrive on accountability, and somehow being at home alone and going to the fridge for lunch too often ends up with me, a box of thin mints (not the right kind of green) and Netflix.

I need a good hack. My latest solution? A salad shelf or a fridge salad bar: I’m dedicating a shelf of my refrigerator to salad fixings!

Here’s what I did:

I measured the shelf in question and then got a variety of storage containers like these Ziploc Variety To Go Container, 7 Count.

IMG_1569-e1474508865171-300x175.jpg

I found that I used two big ones for lettuces, rinsed,  chopped into bite-sized pieces and ready to go. I also got bunch of veggies I like on salads to put in smaller containers: cooked beets, carrots, english cucumber, radishes and bell peppers. I even had a container of olives in the fridge that weren’t really moving, so I removed the pits, chopped them and put them in a small container.  This is a rather long preparation process. I started before I was really hungry, but I wound up eating a leftover cheeseburger for lunch the day I prepped because I was too hungry to wait for my salad to be done.

Then there is the matter of dressing. I have olive oil and a variety of vinegars on hand usually, so at first, I did a quick on-the-salad O&V combo. But I began to realize that the dressing really does make the salad. I have a few go-to recipes. There’s a Cosi copycat shallot viniagrette you can find here. And here’s a “Recipe” from Gwyneth’s latest book: equal parts white miso paste and raw almond butter (I think it’s a 3 to one miso to almond butter ratio if it’s roasted almond butter), thin it with hot water until it is the consistency you like. That’s it! I also like to use things like hummus or salsa as salad dressing. And a great trick that really gets me excited about lunch is to get some prepared tuna or salmon salad or even make a batch of your own. If you just plop that on top, it feels more special.

So how did I do?

Well, you already know day 1 I opted for a cheeseburger instead of a salad.

Day 2: I dove in head first. Even though I was ravenous when I opened the fridge, I just grabbed the stack of salad fixings and made a good, and good for me, lunch.

Day 3: Super busy, I didn’t eat lunch at all, unless you count the green smoothie I had at Jungle Juice with the kids after school. And really that’s more like lunch and a little dessert.

Day 4: Back to the salad. The thing is, I was running out of some of the lettuce already. I may need more large containers for lettuce. It should last all week, right?

Day 4: Settling into a routine. By now, I had my dressing set up. This was a day that I had some of my favorite salmon salad from Whole Foods, so I really looked forward to lunch.

Day 5: Running on fumes for lettuce at this point. Which is great, because I’m eating so many greens. But I had to use some Kale, which I usually only eat cooked because I really hate raw kale.

Takeaways: I will make a few tweaks for continued success. I’ll prep more lettuce, maybe three heads of romaine as well as a container of baby spinach or green leaf lettuce. I’ll also put other items for the salad in the fridge too, like nuts and seeds and maybe a little dried fruit. These are good for the smallest containers, because they should be used in moderation. I will also add more protein sources, like black beans and hard boiled eggs.

In the end I did eat more salad. The salad shelf helped with my dinner salads as well, so even the days I didn’t have salad for lunch, I had it with dinner. (And I basically became Gwyneth Paltrow on the other days). Now I just have to cut out the Thin Mints . . . .