Sometimes I really miss working in an office. Did I just say that? The florescent lighting was terrible and the décor was worse, but I do miss the camaraderie. When I left that job nearly a year ago, I left behind an endearing weekly lunch event with three coworkers. We called it Salad Club. Every Thursday one of us prepared and served a salad for the others. It was glorious. These women were in touch with their vegetables, vinegars, and other accoutrements. The salad flowed, bowls and bowls of it, along with great conversation, and I miss that.
This Labor Day, I’d like to pay homage to good times at work by sharing a salad recipe that was a big hit with the Salad Club. The flavor combinations are citrusy and savory, robust and refreshing. It’s time consuming to make—caramelized onions, guys—but so worth it. It’s a great dinner party salad, too.
Caramelized Onion and Grapefruit Salad
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pink grapefruits
1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced or torn into 1-inch pieces
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
3 scallions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
For the caramelized onions: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
For the salad: Peel and trim the ends from each grapefruit. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a large salad bowl. Add the lettuce, fennel, cucumber, scallions, and thyme.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Arrange the caramelized onions on top and serve.
*Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
You’re on the green smoothie train, right?
A few years ago I began carrying a mason jar full of blended spinach and fruit to work. I got some funny looks in the elevator. Then at some point green drinks gained traction. I was sitting around the conference table waiting for a meeting to start when I noticed someone across from me with their own green smoothie. As soon as I began talking about it, several others chimed in with their own take on the green smoothie—and this was a diverse group of people. Not all of us were hitting the Pilates bar on our lunch break—myself included—but green smoothies make you feel like you did.
Suddenly my Pinterest feed became a nonstop parade of grass-hued libations, styled with bright paper straws atop some fabulous Ikat tablecloth. The Glowing Green Smoothie and Crazy Sexy Green Juice ambassadors had assured us that no, you can’t taste the spinach or kale. I began to notice—usually over cocktails, no less—my girlfriends ardently swapping green smoothie ideas. I don’t know what’s gotten into you America, but I like it.
Unlike juicing, green smoothies are something we can all do and something we can put our personal signature on quite easily. Part of the appeal is that there are infinite variations of this healing force. Plus, green smoothies are practical for day-to-day because they only take a few minutes to make. You probably already have a blender. And no, you don’t need that $600 Vitamix, I promise—at least not for my green smoothie. Unlike fresh pressed juice, the green smoothie will hang out in your fridge for a day or two. It only requires a brisk shake to come back to life without a trace of degradation.
I like mine on the citrusy side and very liquid. Thick smoothies make me feel overfull and heavy. I want to bounce. This makes me bounce. And it is an absolute skin tonic. Just remember—no matter what organic oils and serums you treat your face to—what you eat makes the most difference in how your skin behaves and looks. Without further ado, here is my green smoothie recipe.
Blend the following:
2 cups cold water
2 generous handfuls of spinach, maybe 3
juice of one lemon
half cup of frozen mango
spoonful of manuka honey
(sometimes I add extras, like chia seed or turmeric)
I really love this drink. I look forward to it every day. Look, I don’t always make healthy choices. In fact, I often make unhealthy choices. I have a weakness for sugar, and sometimes even the occasional cigarette (I know, please don’t judge!). Green smoothies help bring me into balance. They remind me that even when I fail at some things, I’m doing a lot of positive things for myself, like committing to toxin-free beauty routine. And did I mention what that much spinach does for your complexion?!
So, what’s in your green smoothie?
Image via LindaWagner.net
Meet Julie! She selects ingredients for their specific vitamin powers. We love food that’s deliberate and tasty.
Hometown: Modesto, CA It is a great location right between the coast, and the Sierra Nevada’s. It is all farm land so we have a great selection of fresh produce as well as we are one of the largest almond suppliers.
My dietary leanings: A LOT of restrictions due to health reasons. I do not advocate cutting this many things from your diet unless it is vital to keeping your body functioning. No: eggs, cow milk products or meats (goat and sheep are fine), soy, gluten, legumes (beans, peanuts), and no high iron foods. Because I can’t have soy or legumes it is very hard to keep my protein levels where they need to be so I do eat chicken, fish, or turkey the days I do strength training. I try to keep my inflammation down by no refined sugars.
My favorite vegetable: Garlic always finds a way into my foods throughout the day. Also red bell peppers and arugula are staples.
This morning I ate…
-Goat milk yogurt with berries
-handful of almonds
- cup of white tea with local honey.
For lunch it was…
-A Greek salad: red bell peppers, garlic, red onion, kalamata olives, sheep feta cheese, arugula/mixed greens, and a splash of aged balsamic vinegar.
-A small avocado with a sprinkle of chili powder, garlic powder, and a splash of lime.
If I am just going to the gym or doing kickboxing at home I will have a shake with almond milk (for protein), a banana (for potassium to prevent muscle cramps) and whatever other fruits and veggies that are nearing their end to get me through training with enough energy.
If I am doing an outdoor activity such as hiking and swimming I will usually load up on portable foods full of antioxidants (dried berries), beta carotene (carrots), lycopene (watermelon), vitamin C (tangerines), omega-3’s (almonds/avocados) and an extra dose of a Vitamin D supplement all to help prevent sunburns.
And finally, dinner…
-Homemade gluten free/egg free pizza with: garlic/curry pizza dough, tomato sauce, spinach, mushrooms, red bell peppers, red onions, zucchini, and a small bit of goat gouda to hold it all together.
-Homemade gluten free/ vegan carrot cake cupcake.
Meet Lauren. We love her palate and her adorable Peter Rabit impulse when it comes to snacks. (It isn’t really stealing if it’s your nannan’s garden, right?). Lauren’s part of the world sounds so lovely. We’d love to share a cup of tea with her!
Home: A little village in Yorkshire, England
My dietary leanings: I like to eat a nice balance of everything. Generally, I have meat twice a week (chicken, lamb, and beef mostly, though I occasionally have duck, pork and game meats like pheasant or rabbit), fish 2-3 times a week, and vegetarian for the rest of the week. I do eat a lot of dairy (in particular, raw/unpasteurised milk sourced very locally from the farm across the road! Tastes so much better than the processed stuff), and I try to eat organic and local wherever possible.
My favorite vegetable: How do I pick?! My favourites are probably broccoli, white cabbage and sweet potatoes. I do love beetroot though, especially pickled.
This morning I ate…
Usually I have porridge for breakfast every day, accompanied with a glass of fruit juice. So many people eat instant porridge and I have no idea why when it’s so easy to make! I simply toast 50g Scottish porridge oats, add them to a saucepan with 300ml raw milk, simmer for 10 minutes, adding a pinch of salt halfway through. Then I take it off the heat, cover for five minutes and it’s ready! I like my porridge drizzled with English wildflower honey, and of course porridge wouldn’t be porridge without the requisite ‘moat’ of cold milk added to the bowl at the end. Sometimes I’ll top it with sliced banana if I have any. My Scottish great-grandad would have been horrified by my version of porridge—the Scots like theirs made with just oats, water and salt, nothing else.
As a snack…
I had a cereal bar (I think it was hazelnut and chocolate flavour…) and some Greek yoghurt sweetened with English wildflower honey (can you tell I love honey?). I drink my 2 litres of water throughout the day, but I like a nice cup of tea with food, with one teaspoon of sugar and a splash of raw milk.
Then for lunch it was…
Homemade leek and potato soup, with oat bread (this is not gluten-free bread). Normally I make this with chicken stock for added flavour, but it was a veggie day so I used vegetable. This is really simple to make: 2 carrots, peeled and sliced; 2 celery sticks, sliced; 2 garlic cloves, sliced; 2 onions, chopped; 400g leeks, quartered and sliced, all fried in olive oil for ten minutes partially covered. I then add 400g of peeled, diced potatoes and 1.8 litres of stock, cover and simmer for ten more minutes. Season, and ta-da! This makes about 6 portions too, which freeze well. Had another cup of tea with a slice of my nannan’s famous carrot cake.
OK, so I may have been naughty and nicked some rhubarb from my nannan’s garden and eaten it dipped in sugar. Yorkshire is well known for its rhubarb and everyone (in my village anyway) eats a lot of it in early summer. I really like a rhubarb crumble at this time of year, but fresh-picked and dipped in sugar is the best way to eat it! I had my third cup of tea with this.
Finally for dinner I had…
A Moroccan-style chickpea stew with pitta bread. To make this I slice two onions and fry these in a flameproof casserole, followed by 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and five teaspoons of Ras-el-Hanout spice blend, cooked for a further 2 minutes. In goes 500ml of vegetable stock, a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, two 400g tins of drained chickpeas and three tablespoons of honey. I bring this to a boil and cook, covered, in a 180C oven for about an hour to an hour and a half. Then I add a sweet potato, peeled and diced; a handful of halved, dried apricots and some chopped coriander. This goes back into the oven for 40-45 minutes. Delicious, and just like the soup you can freeze the leftovers! I normally have some homemade elderflower dilute (squash/cordial) with my evening meal. It’s a tradition in my family to make large batches of this every year in late May/early June, as we live in the countryside and have lots and lots of elder trees growing near us. To make this, pour 1.5 litres of boiling water onto a kilo of sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve. Once it’s cooled, add 55g citric acid, the zest and slices of four lemons and 20 large elderflower heads. Steep for 48 hours. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of months—longer than this and it will ferment to give you some kind of elderflower flavoured spirit! (Admittedly, that does sound nice, maybe we’ll experiment this year…) To make this last year round we like to freeze individual portions in ice cube trays, but this takes up lots of room in the freezer.
Last but not least, dessert…
Bread and butter pudding, with another cup of tea. Like all English sweets, this is calorific, but so good… And it uses up leftover bread that would otherwise be used to feed birds or ducks (I know ducks are birds, but I think of them separately). First, combine 30g melted unsalted butter (all the dairy products that I use are made from raw milk, as I believe they taste better) with a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of cinnamon and a bit of orange zest. Use a bit of it to butter a shallow ovenproof dish. Cut 8 thick slices of stale bread into triangles, put them in the dish with some sultanas and pour over the rest of the butter. Whisk together 5 large egg yolks with 3 large eggs and 200g caster sugar. In a saucepan, bring 500ml milk and 500ml double cream to a slow boil with a split vanilla pod. Once boiled, take off the heat and cool slightly, take out the vanilla pod, then stir into the eggs. Pour the custard over the bread and leave to soak in the fridge for half an hour. Cook in a 180C oven for about 40 minutes, then turn the oven up to 200C and cook for a further 10 minutes. Serve with lashings of double cream. Simple, delicious and cheap as chips!
I’m not sure what the American names for ingredients are if they’re different to the English ones, so I’m sorry if you don’t know what they are! I do believe, though, that American butter is a bit less rich than butter over here, and even your heaviest cream (I think it is actually called heavy cream) has a lower milk fat content than our double cream, so the pudding might taste a bit different across the pond. Happy cooking :)
Meet Anni. We love her tip for boosting calcium levels and her unusual use of chia seeds. And doesn’t avocado and lime just scream summertime? We think so!
Home (for now): The Windy City!
Dietary leanings: After 5 years of being vegetarian, I’ve recently started introducing a bit of poultry back into my diet. A few years back, I discovered a lactose-sensitivity and I’ve also recently been having some problems with wheat (…I think?), so my food options were becoming pretty limited. I’d estimate I eat chicken or turkey 2-3 days a week now, but I still love my tofu and veggies! I think this carnivorous lifestyle is just a phase, though, so I’ll probably go back to being full-time veg at some point.
My favorite vegetable: It’s a tie between sweet potatoes and salsa. Is salsa a vegetable?
I try to start the day gently, with lots of fluids. When I first wake up (just kidding, after hitting snooze on my alarm at least 4 times…), I drink a big glass of water, with lemon if I have any laying around. Next up, I prepare the two more drinks to have while I’m getting ready: ACV + honey + water, cooled to room temp before drinking, and cold coffee + almond milk + chia seeds, which has lots of fiber and keeps me full. I can’t seem to kick my coffee addiction, but preparing it this way makes me feel like it’s at least a bit beneficial. Pop a probiotic & a whole food multi-vitamin and throw a green smoothie in my bag for a hit of nutrition on my morning commute, and I’m ready to go. (By the time I get to work, I definitely need a trip to the bathroom!)
I either eat a few protein balls (raw oatmeal + cinnamon + coconut + PB + honey + flaxseeds, rolled into a ball and stored in the fridge) or snack on some dried cranberries and almonds. Since I don’t eat dairy very often, I eat a lot of almonds because they are a good source of calcium. Gotta take care of the bones!
I LOVE warming up some corn tortillas on the stovetop and topping them with mashed up avocado and sometimes a squeeze of lime. I was semi-veg when I lived in Mexico during college and practically lived on this meal. It’s equal parts nostalgic, filling, and delicious. I either slice & mash my own avocado or, if I’m in a rush/feeling lazy, I always have some pre-mashed guac from Trader Joe’s on hand that I can throw in my bag in the morning.
Afternoon Snack (to get me through that terrible SLUMP!)
I’m so glad snacking is encouraged here, because it’s one of my favorite activities! I almost always have a sliced apple with or without PB around 3-4pm. I also have a bag of unsalted sunflower seeds (shell-free guys, because HOW does anyone manage to eat around that shell?!) for munching on throughout the day when my blood sugar gets low.
Curry noodles is my new favorite after-work meal! Just add some curry paste (I prefer masaman, but red or green works just as well) to a pan with a dab of coconut oil, a can of coconut milk, a bit of grated ginger, a pinch or two of sugar (I love Wholesome Sweetener’s raw cane sugar), a squeeze of lemon and sriracha, and a little tamarind paste if you have it laying around. Let it reduce a bit (but not too much) and then throw in whatever veggies or tofu you have laying around. My favorites are green pepper, shallots, and spinach, but it’s also good with shredded carrots, diced sweet potato, steamed broccoli or bok choy, maybe some mushrooms, oh and tofu, of course! Boil up some rice noodles, spoon some curry over them in a bowl, and VOILA! Dinner is served. (Recipe inspired by this one.)
Unless I have some extra dark chocolate in the freezer, I don’t normally eat dessert. If I find some, I’ll eat (at least) three squares. Later, I’ll finish my day with a cup of green tea and another ACV drink.