I have been eating a lot of salad in the past couple of weeks and when I say a lot – think 3 or even 4 times what you usually think of as a salad. The idea being I’ll fill up on nutritious food and start craving the bad stuff less. I first heard about eating like this from my friend Charlotte who discovered Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition months ago. I’m not a big fan of cutting major food groups out of ones diet – “everything in moderation, including moderation.” Low carb, high protein diets be they Atkins or Paleo will shed pounds but at what cost to the body? All the research points to the benefits of eating a plant based diet for optimum health and to reduce our risk of heart attacks, diabetes and cancer. I’d rather know that I’m getting lots and lots of goodness in the food I’m eating – think salad, veggies and lots of beans – and feeling great with it. And so yes, without really realizing it I have been eating a pure vegetarian diet – almost vegan diet since reading Eat to Live.
I’ve watched a number of food related movies over the years – most widely known is probably Food Inc. but perhaps the one that spoke to me most strongly was Forks over Knives. It definitely changed the way I think about food and more importantly what I feed my kids. Yes, they still get meat and cheese and eggs, but they eat a lot more fruits and vegetables – even when they don’t know they are eating more, like when I make them green soup! Eating salad and vegetables is very time consuming – eased when you blend them up to make soups. We eat a lot of soup for supper in our house these days.
Of all the food movies I found Fat Sick and Nearly Dead the most inspiring. Not that I was about to jump into a car across America and drink nothing but green juice for 60 days – but it makes you think about how we can all turn our health around for the best even if we aren’t as overweight as Joe Cross. (Dr. Furhman monitored Cross’s progress in the film). I do a daily smoothie most mornings for breakfast of frozen berries, spinach, kale, Swiss chard and flax seed meal in the blender. It’s delicious and an easy way to start the day eating lots of power greens.
I thought eating this way and going out would be hard – I was wrong. I ate two side salads when I went out for Mexican recently with Krissy and Kate – topped with fresh salsa as a dressing it was really very tasty and none of the usual uncomfortable heavy feeling post dinner. The hardest part is when the waiter looks as you as if you are crazy. Oh, and the fact that I couldn’t join them in a second round of flaming margarita’s because salad isn’t a great sponge for the alcohol and I was driving!
Even at Didier’s recent ASCAP Film and TV awards I got lucky – the appetizer was a plate of salad – mixed greens, endive, baby tomatoes, walnuts and cranberries – so I skipped the blue cheese and declined the dressing that was offered and instead sprinkled on a little balsamic. It was so good I asked for the same again when the main course was served! I didn’t miss the dry chicken breast or the cheesy veggie option.
So proud of hubs and his win – second year in a row he was given a medal for his music on Gold Rush. Go Friend!
My usual lunch now consists of salad. A favorite is a huge bowl of baby romaine leaves, Trader Joe’s broccoli slaw (if you haven’t discovered this yet it’s a must), baby carrots, a tomato, micro greens and some beans (I like pinto beans which I slow cooked) – all mixed up with this dressing. Healthy, satisfying and so tasty.
When I first read the book Eat to Live I didn’t think in a million years I’d be able to eat so much salad without a traditional vinaigrette. I imagined I’d get very bored eating the same diet as our guinea pigs! I couldn’t even contemplate no dairy or fat – for the six week program you aren’t allowed oil – not even olive oil. So I was curious to taste the dressing Dr Fuhrman suggests. Let me just say with a few modifications (I don’t have any no-salt seasoning which I don’t think it needs and I hate the taste of raw garlic in salad dressings) it’s DELICIOUS. Seriously good and you really don’t notice the lack of oil. The cashew nuts give this salad dressing an Asian dimension and a nutty flavor.
This isn’t about dropping pounds (although that is happening!), it isn’t about helping the environment (although this is a much greener way of living) and it isn’t really about not letting poor cows, pigs and lambs, not to mention poultry, suffer in factory farms for our plates. This really is about finding a way to eat for health. It’s not a quick fix but a long term life change and I really think I owe it to my family.
Dijon Date Dressing
Adapted from Dr Fuhrman’s Eat to Live
makes about 1 1/2 cups of dressing
1 cup water
2/3 cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 dates pitted
freshly milled black pepper (optional)
1. Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blend to a smooth, creamy paste.
2. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator, lasts up to a week.