Saturday, January 26, 2013
Prior to diving into the world of plant-based foods, I'd describe our family as having about an 85-90% whole foods diet. Although we weren't eating a lot of plants, I also wasn't buying boxed, processed foods. Except for the occasional Chick-Fil-A, fast food hasn't been a part of our life for many, many years. I shopped mostly around the perimeter of the grocery store, bought our produce from a locally owned "farm stand" or the farmer's market, and put a lot of effort into making sure we were eating minimal foods that contained unpronounceable words. Hudson and I ate a little differently than Aaron and the rest of the boys. Hudson and I ate a strict gluten-free diet. Gluten affects Hudson in an adverse way, and it makes me feel bloated and tired. If I gained a few pounds, I could always (I mean, always) think back through the previous month and notice I had eaten more grains than normal. I've eaten a pretty strict paleo diet for over four years now, and I truly believe removing the grains has kept me fitting into my jeans and given me a lot of energy.
Even though our diet was relatively healthy before adding in more fruits and vegetables, transitioning to this new way of eating has still been difficult. Although we were constantly moving towards a healthier diet, we were not taking full advantage of all that fruits and vegetables have to offer our bodies. Meat and animal-based foods - not vegetables - were the main attraction in just about every meal we ate (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even some of our snacks). Vegetables landed a minor role at mealtimes.
The best way to describe the change in our diet? Meat and animal based products have been given the role of an "extra" you see in the background and fruits and vegetables now have their own trailer, complete with make-up artist and hairstylist. They are the star of the show at every meal. Meat and animal-based products are still allowed on the set every once in a while during the week, but they are only given a few lines to say, and they aren't allowed to steal the show.
We've been eating this way for a little over a month now, and it's finally feeling a little more natural. During the first two weeks, my goal wasn't so much to drastically reduce our comfortable animal-based foods. My goal was to begin introducing more vegetables - to begin talking them up - to make them more important without drastically reducing animal-based foods from our diet.
This salad served as one of the great transition foods for our family. It's packed with plant-based goodness, but for the first couple weeks, I kept the cheese in the salad so the kids would feel more at ease. I'm happy to say that a couple weeks later, the cheese wasn't invited to this salad party and no one cared (I still use it some times though - cause cheese - it's just so dang good).
My aunt brought this salad to Christmas this year, and I couldn't get enough of it (and the yummy dressing). I love the dressing so much I use it on lots of other salads as well. You can make a lot of the dressing and keep it in the refrigerator to have on hand as needed.
Waldorf Spinach Salad
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
In a bowl, stir honey, oil, vinegar, mustard, cinnamon, salt, and garlic with wire whisk until well blended.
1 bag (9 oz) spinach, torn (baby spinach is great)
2 large apples or pears, thinly sliced (ripe pears are way better)
4 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shaved (optional)
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries (without sugar)
Mix spinach, apples/pears, cheese (if using), celery, walnuts, and raisins/cranberries in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the salad, gently toss until salad is coated. Serve immediately.
Eat it as the main dish or serve with your favorite soup.
This is a great paleo/primal salad as well.
If you're wanting some inspiration to up the fruits/vegetables in your diet, check out the Forks Over Knives documentary or the Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead documentary (both are on Netflix). We didn't walk away from these documentaries ready to completely rid our diet of meat (especially grass-fed, ethically raised meat), but these documentaries did greatly encourage us to rethink the role fruits and vegetables play in our diet. We walked away from each of these documentaries in awe of food and the ability plants have to prevent, halt, and even cure disease. Incredible!
Did I Mention We're Tweaking our Diet?