With a number of foods verboten in the 30-day challenge, I’ve found it’s been helpful to think less about what I can’t eat (I bet I know something that starts with “b”…) and shift my thoughts towards all the things that are included.
It’s a good thing that I like vegetables, a lot.
In particular, it’s a good thing I like salads, since the challenge has given me a renewed respect for salad. That’s right, respect for salad. It’s so often relegated to the ‘sides’ category, kind of like it’s comic relief from the main event on the plate. But salads are really fantastic in their own right, especially this time of year when the sun peeks out, and stays, a little longer. And of course, for Paleos, when there’s a sizable amount of protein included.
I particularly like them right now because it doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a great salad, so they’re helping take down the what-am-I-going-to-make-for-dinner anxiety a few notches.
And really, isn’t simpler better when it comes to great salads? Like arugula with just shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano and cracked pepper. Thick spinach leaves with sliced mushrooms and hard-boiled eggs. Ripe tomato slices with only fresh mozzarella and a chiffonade of basil. Grilled bell peppers and zucchini rounds, on their own, served warm or cold. Add some grilled chicken, salmon, beef or prawns and all the Paleo converts would be most pleased.
I’m feeling most calm now, thinking about the simplicity of salads. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this Paleo thing after all.
This vinaigrette is why you never need to buy bottled salad dressing. Homemade vinaigrette is SO much better than what you can get out of a bottle, and the ingredients are all natural. Plus it takes less than 5 minutes to put together. The key is to use fresh, good quality ingredients.
- 1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (see note)
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, parsley or tarragon, finely chopped (optional)
- In a small bowl, combine the mustard and vinegar.
- Add a little salt and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil with small fork. Taste and adjust for seasonings. If the vinaigrette is too tangy for your liking, whisk in a little bit more olive oil.
- When you're happy with the seasoning, stir in the fresh herbs and toss over your favorite greens. Keep any extra vinaigrette covered in the fridge for up to a week.
Use a different acid (vinegar, citrus juice) depending on the type of salad you're serving: A balsamic vinegar gives a heartier vinaigrette, which pairs very well with a grilled steak salad. Fresh lime, lemon, orange or grapefruit juice are lighter and give a tropical vibe to seafood or chicken salads.
More on the Paleo diet challenge:
Why I’m doing it in the first place
My plan for the 30 days