Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking Credit for the Big Salad

My Big Salad; I ate the whole thing.
           Does it ever seem like you go through food phases? In my teen years I could eat a whole jar of kosher dill spears...yes, the whole jar...and yes--I was a bit on the chubby side (extreme water-weight retention from disgusting amounts of sodium probably). "Peanut butter" was my response when asked about my favorite food...especially if it was in divine combination with chocolate. I just drooled a little. On a daily basis I crave something sweet but I go through phases of wanting sugary candies like Skittles or opting for cookies and cakes. Here is a strange food phase that must be genetic because it happens to my mother as well: Salad cravings!

The lazy salad--Ironically named, American Blend.

         Perhaps I crave things that I can crunch on vigorously and stab with my fork during times of stress. This particular semester is pretty stressful, so if you see me ripping apart a head of lettuce you should probably steer clear. There are endless combinations for salad making, and it's pretty hard to get a salad wrong (I said pretty hard, not impossible). When I felt the salad itch, I decided to meander over to the pre-packaged salad bags and see what my fine neighborhood Kroger had to offer. Ah, uniform pieces of lettuce packed into 5 to 9 oz bags. Some of them are nice enough to take the guesswork out of the salad making process by putting in other ingredients like shredded carrots, red cabbage and radishes. Just dump out, add dressing, and eat. Don't have dressing? They add dressing packets too! I'm starting to see a trend in marketing...geared towards the lazy. Don't have time to make your own salad? Aw, come on! Is this your excuse for everything?

         Personalized salad making is definitely worth the time and effort! It's also cheaper! So back to the neatly packaged salad bags...7 oz salad mixes for about $4 a bag! My meager college grocery budget cannot sustain such reckless purchases! For less than $1 a head, I bought green leaf lettuce, and red tipped lettuce. Romaine is around $1.50. Next, I chose two carrots from the loose pile, 88 cents, and splurged on organic radishes (they had a nicer color) for $1.29. I hate cabbage, so this salad would be delightfully cabbage free! I like to add some chickpeas to my salad, and I can buy a can for 89 cents. So there you have it, for less than five dollars I had the potential to make many salads...and I like my salads big! 7 ounces just isn't going to cut it!

          Time to deglaze those eyes; I'm done talking about finances now. On to the good stuff: salad making! There are three things that I get from Whole Foods Market that I can't find at Kroger: R.W. Knudsen ginger ale spritzer, quinoa, and nutritional yeast. The third one, nutritional yeast, is a new ingredient I add to my salads per the advice of my friend and fellow dietetics major Jason. I realize that nutritional yeast sounds about as appetizing as licking fungus off of someone's toes, but hear me out! Nutritional yeast looks a lot like a yellow version of instant mashed potato flakes, has a cheesy flavor so it makes a great popcorn topping, and best of all for vegetarians: it's a great source of vitamin B12, a hard vitamin to get when you don't eat meat.

Nutritional yeast, certified cheese imitator.

Best ginger ale I've ever ingested.

          Once I've got my lettuce, carrot, radish and chickpeas into the bowl I sprinkle 1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast over everything. For my dressing I simply use 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of red or white wine vinegar with a few grinds of pepper. Put a plate over the top of the bowl and shake it around a few times to coat the salad evenly. The nutritional yeast adds so much flavor to the dressing; I wish I had known about it sooner! I like to change things up by adding baby spinach when I have it, kalamata olives, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers...the options are endless! I'm adding one of my favorite salad recipes to my recipe blog, so check it out, and don't be afraid to experiment with your own unique salad combinations. If you make it yourself, then you can truly take credit for the Big Salad.

For those who did not catch my Seinfeld reference.


  1. I like salads but when I eat them they upset my stomach. Could it be the dressing?

  2. Jessica, sometimes salads upset my stomach too. I'll go ahead and embarrass myself here...raw veggies can make me bloated or give me gas. It has to do with how easy it is for your digestive system to break down. Cooking veggies makes them easier to digest because it breaks down some of the starch and softens it. If you don't eat a high fiber diet on a regular basis then eating a salad can be like a shock to your system. In your particular case, I don't know what foods you are sensitive to so I can't make that judgement.