Friday, October 25, 2013

Salads with Staying Power

Jay is super lucky that he doesn't ever have to pack a lunch for work, because his school provides an awesome meal every day for teachers free of charge.

 Back in the day when Jay and I attended Casady (the school where he works), we all ate our lunches family style each day in the cafeteria.  There was one main entree and a few side dishes that were served, and students and teachers would pass around big platters and bowls just like a family at dinnertime.  While this made for a very pleasant lunchtime atmosphere, the meals were often times far from nutritious.  I can remember lots of breaded items, mashed potatoes, heavy casseroles, and no-bake cookies, cinnamon rolls, and cakes for dessert.  Good, yes.  Healthy, not so much.

A few years ago, Casady hired a new food provider in order to focus on healthier fare and fresher ingredients.  They have maintained the family-style setting, still passing around a main meal each day, but now students and teachers have the additional option of visiting expansive soup, salad, and sandwich bars.  If only my school district would follow suit...
Jay raves about the selection and eats a huge salad pretty much every single day.  This means that most days he is not in the mood for more salad when he gets home, so I didn't include it in the dinner rotation too often in the past.

Kind of like "big bowls," giant salads are one of my favorite easy meals to make, and I was starting to miss them!  We finally figured out that we could instigate "Salad Tuesdays," since Jay has a faculty meeting that day and does not eat in the cafeteria.  They usually order some type of pizza or takeout for their meeting, so he is more than ready for greens when he gets home.

I am glad to be making salads regularly again, and I must tell you there have been some pretty epic ones over the last few weeks.  Lettuce and tomatoes alone won't keep me full for long, so I have been known to add in some pretty interesting ingredients to beef my salads up.  I usually like to include something hot to make them feel more substantial (like roasted or sauteed veggies, cooked beans, or a fried egg), and I always make sure to incorporate some protein and healthy fat.  After that, the sky is the limit!  Salads certainly do not have to be wimpy or boring.  Here are some of my faves from the past few Salad Tuesdays.

Tempeh "bacon," baby kale, black beans, hummus, avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, organic ranch, Bragg liquid aminos, and multigrain chips.

Organic romaine, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, avocado, sauteed peppers, onions, and carrots, black beans, homemade jalapenos, peppers from our garden, Daiya cheese, Valentina hot sauce, organic ranch, and tortilla chips.

Organic romaine, yellow tomatoes from our garden, roasted cauliflower, carrots, and bell peppers, cucumber, black beans, hummus, avocado, organic ranch, Sriracha hot sauce, and tortilla chips. 

Organic romaine, sauteed yellow peppers and onions, black beans, hummus, pickles, bean sprouts, yellow tomatoes from our garden, cilantro, fried egg, Sriracha hot sauce, organic ranch, and tortilla chips. 

Organic baby kale, yellow tomatoes from our garden, avocado, bean sprouts, cilantro, brown rice, black beans, leftover sauteed potatoes and onions, roasted asparagus, bean sprouts, Daiya cheese, organic ranch, Sriracha hot sauce, liquid aminos.
What are your favorite salad toppings?!  I am always looking for new ideas!

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