Better than Pizza…salad?

Better than Pizza…salad?

Yep, I just said that.

Did I just say that? Better than pizza salad? I definitely did. Just said it.

Because its true. One night, Christopher and I were having a cleanoutthefridgenight, which is essentially a night where we eat all the random stuff in our fridge before it goes bad, when we had this salad.

Ok, so no, the salad just didn’t appear, but I did throw it together in about 5 minutes with leftovers we had in the fridge and some dried spices from the pantry. And then, I set a bowl of it down in between a plate of pickles and some reheated pizza….and well, the rest is history.

Although to be truthful, I suppose this salad could have been called “Better than Pickles Salad”, but that just didn’t seem as catchy.

So here we are, after we both chose to eat a salad instead of pizza…which I never really saw coming. No warning. I suppose we will all be better prepared the next time this happens.

This post, I’m assuming, is also well timed, as we probably are all reallllly sick of cooking elaborate meals at very stressfully placed holidays during the year…or maybe I’m the one that’s sick of cooking.

Not that I don’t love the holidays, I think my love for holidays and the changing seasons has been very well documented at this point. Its just that Thanksgiving’s strategic placement near the end of the semester, at the start of severe weather flight delays, and less than a month from Christmas, which is less than 2 weeks away from New Years is just crazy-making. I vote to space these holidays a little bit better. Not only would there be less stress, but if we moved some of these to summer, we wouldn't have to worry about the nor'easters that always seem to cancel 5 million flights right before or after Christmas. Don't even get me started on my Christmas break last year where I was stranded in Chicago during the polar vortex. The. Worst. Ever. There were no down coats big enough for that excursion. 

So here we have it, a really impressive salad that you can make within 5 minutes, without cooking, that will impress your family and friends. It is a perfect way to use leftover chicken or turkey. (I told you this recipe was aptly timed.) It also doesn’t matter what types of salad greens you have- they all taste great. As of posting this, I have had this salad with romaine, arugula, kale, and bok choy. It is now glaringly apparent that I’ve had this salad about 10 times since its first creation.

I should note that Vegenaise isn’t exactly paleo; although far better than conventional mayonnaise, it contains safflower oil. Safflower is an industrial oil, although it has been noted that of all the industrial seed oils, this is probably the best choice as long as it is extracted without chemical or heat. Soy-free Vegenaise, however, does not contain grains, gluten, or dairy, so you’re safe there. For a truly Paleo option, I recommend making your own mayonnaise to substitute, however, this would increase the time to make the salad from 5 minutes to possibly 15. And really, You Only Live Once.  So Eat That Vegenaise.

YOLOSETV.

Or maybe we should just stick to YOLO.

And then make this salad.



Better than pizza….salad?

Makes 3 large salads, or several small salads

  • 8 cups of your favorite salad greens
  • 1 cup of Soy-free Vegenaise, divided
  • 2 cups leftover shredded chicken or turkey
  • ½ cup red grapes  
  • 2 medium sized celery stalks
  • ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts (optional)
  • 1 ½ tbsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. dried onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried garlic powder
  1. Slice grapes in half lengthwise and dice celery stalks finely.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix leftover chicken or turkey with ¾ cup of the Soy-free Vegenaise, diced celery, halved grapes, chopped hazelnuts, dried dill, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Add Vegenaise /poultry mixture to salad greens. Stir to incorporate, and add remaining ¼ cup Vegannaise slowly to thoroughly coat all greens. Serve immediately.*

*If you want to make this in advance, hold off on adding the Vegenaise mixture to the salad greens until just before serving to ensure that the greens remains crisp.  





Bet you didn't know this paleo dessert existed

Remember how I said last week that it didn’t feel at all like fall yet since the temperature wasn’t dropping? Well, just after that, the highs of 101 dropped to 85, then to 80. Just like that. But then, the highs crept right back up to 100 and 101. Essentially, still no fall boots for me.

In the short of it, I realize that most people are begrudgingly transitioning into fall (P.S. I talked to Emily- she’s already wearing her fall boots), but here in the southwest, I am enjoying an extended summer.  So much so, that the other day, Christopher and I bought a whole watermelon because it was on super sale; the end of summer is the season for extra large melons. (Heh, heh, heh…) Someone once told me that the best way to choose a melon is to knock on it, like you’re knocking on someone’s front door, and listen for a hollow sound. If its hollow that means the fruit is ripe. Well, without Google verifying this, Christopher and I dug headfirst into the watermelon box, knocking all the melons. Every. Single. One.  We spent probably 20 minutes in this box of Watermelons, and it almost reminded me of one of those ball pits in Chuckie Cheese, but with far more bruising at the end. After deadlifting 30-pound fruit for 20 minutes, we really decided that we needed to get back into Crossfit or some sort of weight-lifting regimen. In the end, we got the hollow-est sounding watermelon of the bunch.

So there we were, now at home with a gigantic watermelon. Here’s the kicker: I don’t even like watermelon that much. (Or melons in general, really.) In college, the cafeteria filled their fruit quota as much as possible from honeydew and cantaloupe. (I’m guessing because it’s the cheapest to buy in bulk.) I ate so many melons those years, that I haven’t enjoyed them much since. Another fun fact? Cantaloupe is called Muskmelon in Iowa and the Dakotas. Muskmelon! What a funny word.

In short, I set out experimenting with watermelon to figure out a way to enjoy the fruit since I was now in possession of approximately 30 pounds of it.  I eventually decided to try creating a reduction with both blueberries and balsamic as a watermelon topping, since balsamic reductions really bring out wonderful flavors in fruit, and blueberries are also in their peak at the end of summer. I had made both berry reductions and balsamic reductions independently before, so this time, I mapped out what I thought would be a good combination of the two. The end result was a blueberry-lime balsamic reduction that pairs exceptionally well with watermelon: the tartness of blueberries balances out the sweetness of ripe watermelon, and the lime adds a little zest. Everything ties together nicely. The balsamic reduction can be used as a dip for watermelon, but my favorite way to enjoy it was as a drizzle over a watermelon round, cut into eighths to resemble a “fruit pizza”.

When making the reduction, it is important to note that the concoction needs to be watched closely and stirred frequently, as it can stick and burn easily. If you doubt your ability to correctly make a reduction, do not fret! You can take the process slower by simmering on a lower heat to ensure that there is a lesser risk for burning. Just know this this significantly increases the time to complete the task.


Paleo Blueberry-Lime Balsamic Reduction

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or can be frozen for later use

  • 2 cups of fresh blueberries, washed with stems removed
  • 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup raw honey*
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  1. In a saucepan, melt honey on low heat, and be careful not to burn.
  2. Add balsamic and blueberries, increase to medium heat to bring mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low, add limejuice and vanilla, and then stir.
  4. Let reduce on medium low heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning or scalding. Reduction will be done when mixture is syrupy and has reduced in volume by about half.
  5. Let cool completely before handling.

*This reduction is tart, so if you prefer something sweeter, up the honey to ½ cup, or potentially even ¾ cup. (Although ¾ of a cup might be very sweet. I haven’t tried this yet, so if you do, let me know how it turns out.)


Paleo Fruit Pizza

Serves 2-5 (Varies greatly on your watermelon size)

  • ¼ cup Paleo Blueberry-Lime Balsamic Reduction
  • 1 round of watermelon, about 12 inches across
  • Berries, lime quarters, or lime peels for garnish (optional)
  1. Create a round of watermelon by cutting your watermelon first in half through the center, then cutting another piece from the half about 3 inches thick. Cutting a round directly from the center ensures the biggest diameter, however, you may choose to cut from the end to serve a smaller pizza. Note that if you slice a round with a smaller diameter, do not use as much of the reduction. If you don’t adjust this, your pizza will be much too tart.
  2. Place the watermelon round (Should just be one big watermelon circle) on your serving platter, tray, or board. Drizzle the blueberry balsamic reduction over the watermelon. For better presentation, you may choose to drizzle some reduction on your serving piece. (See below.)
  3. Using a pizza cutter, slice watermelon into pieces, like you would do to a pizza. You of course can do quarters or sixths, but I prefer eighths.
  4. Garnish with berries, lime peels, or lime quarters. (Optional)