By: Chef Cristian Feher
|My own personal salad bar!
My family's first choice of food at home is not salad - but put us in a restaurant with a salad bar, and watch us go to town! The difference? Variety. It's the spice of life, and it's a selling point to salad. So, I decided to make our own salad bar at home. And guess what? Everyone has been eating salad!
Try this at home and maybe your family will eat more salad too.
Before I get to the recipes and descriptions, I'm just going to give you a few pointers on making healthy salads, since the whole point of a salad is to provide your body with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients - not just sugar and water disguised in the shape of salad - you can watch this video here to see what I mean. How to make a healthy salad video
- Use dark greens like baby spinach, baby kale, and dark organic salad mix to maximize enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
- Avoid light colored lettuces like iceberg, and romaine, which don't really have any nutritional value.
- Avoid store-bought salad dressings that are filled with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and all sorts of crap that defeat the purpose of eating a salad in the first place.
- Make your own salad dressing - it's easy! And it's healthy.
- Buy organic vegetables to avoid pesticides and chemicals. But conventional veggies are still MUCH better than not having a salad at all, if that's what you can afford.
- Use different colored vegetables to liven up the salad visually (stimulating your appetite), and to pack it with nutrients.
Sour Cream Salad Dressing This is one of my favorite salad dressings. For this one, you will need a food processor, or at least a hand-blender to mix all the ingredients together. Put the following ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth:
- 8oz sour cream
- 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp of white vinegar
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded Beets are a great way to add nutrition, natural carbohydrates and color. I used a spiral slicer to make beet strands. You can use a vegetable shredder or cheese grater if you don't have a spiral slicer.
Shredded Red Cabbage is easy to make with a food processor. Cut the cabbage into wedges that you can fit down the chute of the food processor. Put the shredding wheel on the processor and shred away! You can do it with a cheese grater, or you can just slice it really thin with a chef's knife if that's all you have. Add a little salt, and a few splashes of vinegar to the mixture to keep longer, and to soften the cabbage.
Shredded Carrots are full of vitamins, minerals and low-glycemic carbohydrates. You can shred them with a cheese grater, or with the food processor like I did.
Pickled Radishes and Red Onions are really easy to make. I buy pre-shredded radishes, combine that with sliced onions in a container and add the brine. To make the brine, I used 1 cup of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 1/2 cup of sugar. I warmed it on the stove just enough to melt the sugar into the liquid. You can then, pour the liquid into the container with the vegetables and refrigerate over night. The result is tangy, crispy, sweet radish and onion! And most of the sugar stays in the brine.
To make Soy Marinated Mushrooms, simply quarter about a dozen large white mushrooms, put them in a pot, splash them with 1/4 cup of Japanese soy sauce, 2 tbsp of Mirin (sweet rice wine), salt and pepper to taste and bring them to a boil. As soon as they boil, take them off the heat and leave them covered for 15 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a container and keep the "mushroom juice" in the pot for the next vegetables.
To make Soy Marinated Zucchini, simply slice the zucchini, put them in the pot with the mushroom juice, bring to a boil, take off the heat, cover pot and let them sit in there for 15 minutes. Remove them, put them in a plastic container and leave the "mushroom zucchini juice" in there for the next vegetable!
To make Soy Marinated Green Italian Beans, put fresh or frozen beans in the pot with the mushroom zucchini juice, bring to a boil, take off the heat, cover pot and let them sit in there for 15 minutes. Remove them, put them in a plastic container and you're done. With this leftover "mushroom, zucchini, green bean juice", you can even poach other vegetables if you wish. It will just keep on getting tastier with each new vegetable that you add in there.
To create even more variety and add protein, you can top your salads with:
- Grilled meats like, chicken, beef steaks, pork, turkey, sausages.
- Cold cuts of all kinds.
- Sliced cheeses, and creamy cheeses like Boursin.
- Steamed fish, salmon salad, tuna salad, grilled fish, shrimp, scallops.
- Smoked almonds, nuts, and dried fruit.
- Canned fish, and smoked meats are quick, easy and nutritious.
You may think this is a lot of work, but you'll thank yourself after a couple of days of eating really good salads! You may notice that you're not as tired as you used to be, that you can get more done, and you may even lose weight. But the point of this for us, was not weight loss (although it will likely happen), it was to add a tonne of nutrition to our diet. Add to this, our morning green smoothies, and we've been flying every day!
I love that I can add all sorts of grilled meats and seafood to this - being a guy, and a chef, a juicy rib eye steak, butter grilled chicken thigh, or bacon-wrapped scallop, really makes me look forward to eating a nice colorful salad for dinner. And now that I have my GrillGrate grill grates, I've been grilling everything!
My wife and I work-out three to four days a week (since December), and I've noticed how much more energy I've had during our last two workouts - all due to the salads and clean proteins. Well, I'll stop trying to sell you on this personal salad buffet. But you know, me, when I find something I really enjoy, I like to share it with you!