Can a salad sex up your summer?

sexy saladsYou know you want it… the tastes, the smells, the mouthfeel (oh man, I love that word). Go ahead and indulge. You’re worth it. You’ve earned it. Life is short. Woah… wait a second. Are we talking about sex or salads here? Can the prerequisite platitudes we use to defend anything from hair colouring to having affairs apply equally to vegetables? Life is short – here, have a carrot. Nope. Didn’t think so.

pineapple avocado saladSo if life is so short why bother eating healthy? Because it’ll be a hell of a lot shorter if we don’t? Like that argument ever works – not! How about another tempting equation: eat salad = get skinny = get laid? Logical. But just ask the next whiny wisp of a woman how sexy she feels tucking into her sprouts n’ lentils. Now, I can sit here and wax on about supporting one’s optimal system state with a custom care diet that’s high in fiber/nutrients and low in calories/sugar. But why bother when the straight-up skinny is…

Pure unadulterated pleasure.

smoked herring saladForget parched packaged veggies and Subway blasphemies. The key is to go right back to your hunter gatherer roots and get primal about your lunch. The grocery store becomes your ranging territory rather than an overwhelming warehouse. Follow your senses! Hunt for the colours and textures that stand out (most likely to be in season) from the others and get creative. Jumble a load of random deliciousness into your basket – veggies, fresh/dried fruits, cheeses, kippers, etc. And don’t forget about novelty dressing ingredients. Listen to your mood, to the weather, and pay attention to whatever items stimulate and/or excite a reaction or craving.

raspberry pumpkin seed saladChop/roast/mix your foragings and store them in containers (I’ve taken over our office fridge’s bottom drawer) for easy custom salad recipes, made according to the tastes of the day. Basically, you’re trying to create easy access to a sensory orgy of nutrient rich unprocessed foods while giving you a sense of control over your system state without sacrificing novelty, risk, or surprise.

Can a salad set-up sex up your summer? Hell ya! When we invest time and energy into supporting our optimal system state – however counterintuitive the specifics may feel at first – we gain a new sense of ownership and appreciation for our bodies. Rather than feeding a desperate amygdala with sugars and fats, a healthy system gives us space to indulge a far greater range of pleasures – gastronomic and otherwise. An attitude of curiousity and honest indulgence about food (+ all that zinc) keeps our brains alert for other… um… indulgences. And obviously, getting in primo shagging shape is an extra bonus.

Sandwich to Salad Week Day 5: The happy ham and egg weekend brunch anticipation salad

The happy ham and egg salad

What is joy? One brief moment of sensory/emotional bliss? Extend the moment retroactively through time with this ‘happy ham and egg salad’. This flavour preview lets you enjoy the raw exquisite anticipation of what lies just out of reach – the weekend. But this salad is more than its emotional garnish. ham and egg salad ingredientsIt is no mediation, no compromise. There’s no lettuce filler or mere hint of ham. This is not a Subway sandwich lying to your face with false promise of satisfaction. This is today. This moment is all we have, all we are. Let’s make this lunch as pure an indulgence as we possibly can. As this 5 day meal plan revolution draws to a close, let’s celebrate with a firework explosion of flavour, colour, and texture. Exalt! For you (and your taste buds) have survived another week at work!

The happy ham and egg weekend brunch anticipation salad
2 boiled eggs
50+g sliced ham
1 yellow bell pepper
2 small tomatoes
2 large white mushrooms
1/2 cucumber

Chop all ingredients into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle with your happiest dressing – perhaps some ‘Punny Mustard Vinaigrette’?

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fast and easy summer salad recipes 3Day 1: The ham and cheese sandwich salad + Inspiration story
Day 2: The fresh off the ‘cobb’ salad that can’t be ‘beet’ + Punny mustard vinaigrette
Day 3: The ‘too healthy for its own good’ beany bread bonanza salad
Day 4: The solar powered spinach mushroom salad + *BONUS* The ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ salad
Day 5: The happy ham and egg weekend brunch anticipation salad

Sandwich to Salad Week Day 4: The solar powered spinach mushroom salad + *BONUS* The ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ salad

The solar powered spinach mushroom saladThere is no universal perfect salad. It’s one of the hard truths of our existence, that perfection is, ultimately, an individual experience. But what human can deny the exaltation felt when the first rays of sun burst through a cloudy sky? The shared emotional warmth of a sudden sunbeam is as universal as we’ll ever get (besides death and sex – but they’re a little harder to work into a salad). Spinach, even when garnished with an asteroid belt of mushrooms can leave even the most dedicated salad explorer pining for Subway – the horror! But add a yellow centre of sunny corn and sunflower seeds and behold… The 5 day sandwich to salad meal plan revolution bursts back to life. Alleluia anyone?

The solar powered spinach mushroom salad
1/2 can corn niblets
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 boiled egg
4 large white mushrooms
1/3 cup baby carrots
1 large handful spinach
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley

Chop all (larger) ingredients into bite-sized pieces. Top with corn and sunflower seeds. Drizzle with your favourite dressing or what could be your new fave ‘Punny Mustard Vinaigrette’.

The 'everything but the kitchen sink' salad*BONUS* There are moments in life where to push forward, we must throw everything we have into the mix, our skills and talents, our hopes and dreams, our seeds and beans. This salad is one such occasion. As in life, we put it all together and pray it all works out for the best. And when the leap of faith tastes as delicious as this salad, we are reminded, with sweet relief, that our complexities give flavour to our greatest experiences… and our greatest selves.

The ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ salad
1/3 can assorted beans
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
25g sliced ham
2 large white mushrooms
2 small tomatoes
1 seranno pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 small handful spinach
(or lettuce – or heck, both!)
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley

Thinly slice seranno pepper. Chop all (larger) ingredients into bite-sized pieces. Top with beans, seeds, and your favourite dressing.

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fast and easy summer salad recipes 3Day 1: The ham and cheese sandwich salad + Inspiration story
Day 2: The fresh off the ‘cobb’ salad that can’t be ‘beet’ + Punny mustard vinaigrette
Day 3: The ‘too healthy for its own good’ beany bread bonanza salad
Day 4: The solar powered spinach mushroom salad + *BONUS* The ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ salad
Day 5: The happy ham and egg weekend brunch anticipation salad

A ‘Slim my Viking’ Recipe: Anthony Bourdain – ing with quick & easy summer salad rolls

Standing in the grocery store, one body among many, all of us searching for some semblance of satisfaction, the paralysis of routine takes hold. Thousands of products, but my brain sees only the dozens it has seen before. No. Not today, not with 5 days of weekday repetition looming on the other side of this Sunday afternoon: wake up, go to work, come home, do the bastard dishes, make supper, watch TV, go to bed. No.

Facing an entire wall of salad dressings, I make a choice for change. I turn around. The opposite aisle wall is a mecca of Bourdain – ian possibilities. Anthony Bourdain (sketched at right), a man I’ve followed around the world, from arrogant naiveté to arrogant wisdom. On some strange level, I love that man; as a prophet of hope and novelty, of freedom and humanity. But my heart is held by another, my Viking…

Rice paper! I can do this. Heck, I’ve seen it on TV. Suddenly, I’m on a flavour raid – bean sprouts, red pepper, chilies… designing my own recipe and pillaging (I think we all can do without the raping) for a whole new flavour profile. And if the Viking isn’t sated, I buy his favourite bread with spinach dip to fill the void. The grocery store is instantly transformed from tedium to adventure, my brain and senses fully engaged in the exploration.

Half an hour later in my kitchen, with eyes watering and mouth on fire from testing the heat of a serrano pepper, I’m draining chilled vermicelli using a mesh splatter guard (see photo for vegetable prep). To my awe and amazement, the rice paper holds, and my improvised summer salad roll recipe proves to be quick and easy (see assembly instructions below – my apologies for the white plate!), healthy, and delicious – even to my Viking! Next time you’re lost in the grocery store, why not escape your own routine and go Anthony Bourdain – ing…

Note: Store bought peanut satay sauce shown in photo. But you can also jazz up your dipping by mixing together 2-3 parts soy sauce, 1 part peanut satay sauce, 1-2 drops sesame oil, and a few drops of Sriracha hot sauce.