Salad bar, that is.
I figure I can’t be the only busy mom whose children eat a more healthy diet than she does. I’m always cutting up fruit for them, or telling them to eat some carrots or a banana, but when I’m the one in need of a snack, well, I really really like cookies.
The kids are always singing the fruit-and-veggie song from Signing Time (“Any way you slice it, or dice it, or peel it, it’s gotta add up to five a day”) and this has made me sheepishly aware of how often I fall short of the mark. I know, it’s pathetic, and I ought to be embarrassed to post it here. But like I said, I’m operating under the assumption that I’m not the only one. Please don’t disillusion me. I know you’re out there somewhere, Cookie-Loving Mother Who Hates Chopping Vegetables.
Anyway, I had this brilliant idea (she says modestly). One nice big salad a day can take care of all five servings (and then some) in a fell swoop. (Don’t worry, that’s not the brilliant idea—that’s pedestrian statement of the obvious.) Why don’t I eat more salads, I wondered?
Regarding the latter reason, I realized that I always enjoy salads in restaurants (on the rare occasions on which we dine in one) because they include such yummy tidbits. Pine nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, real bleu cheese. Well, duh, nothing’s stopping me from doing this at home. Just hadn’t occurred to me before.
So I picked up a few of these items and began sprinkling them on spinach salads at home. Yum. Seriously. I’ll eat a giant bowlful of raw spinach just for the sake of a few mandarin oranges. For about a week after I had the Fancy Salads Are Yummy insight, I ate a really delicious and large spinach salad every day. In my convert’s zeal, I gleefully chopped red bell pepper and mushrooms and carrots and other veggies for these princely salads, these superheroes of salads, these I’ll-see-your-five-a-day-and-raise-it salads.
And then Reason #1 reared its very ugly head. All that chopping. All those little bags and containers to take out and put away. All that digging around in the pantry for the precious baggie of dried cherries I found on sale. Too much fuss! Too much assembly required! Cookies come pre-assembled, whispered the voice of sloth in my head. And no mess to clean up afterward…
Which is when the brilliant idea occurred. Maybe it will only seem brilliant to you if you are as culinarily lazy as I am. Maybe it will only further convince you that I am the most pathetic fool ever to set foot in a kitchen. There are those who would agree with you. You know who you are.
Anyway. What I did was to put all my salad fixings in a plastic bin. Boom, one-stop shopping. It’s right there at eye level on the fridge shelf, where I can’t avoid seeing it. Big bag of prewashed spinach sitting on top. In the bin are all the little baggies and plastic containers that I was finding it such a burden to collect from various points in the pantry and refrigerator. Pine nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, real bleu cheese…mmm, just cutting-and-pasting this list from above makes me hungry. (They don’t all make it into every salad, of course, just a random selection. Otherwise there’d be no room for the veggies, which are, of course, the whole point.)
Also in the bin: sliced mushrooms, diced bell peppers, chopped carrots. OK, so it’s not a perfect system: I still have to prep the veggies. But (another duh moment) I’m doing it once or twice a week, at night after the kids are in bed. Then in the middle of my busy day, I can scoop a handful of diced peppers out of a baggie and throw it on my beeyootiful salad. I know, lots of people have thought of this before me. I don’t claim to be innovative. Except possibly in the matter of sticking it all in a bin together so all I have to do is pull the bin out of the fridge and mix-and-match until I’ve got a bowlful.
I am so delighted at the success of my new system that I think I’ll go celebrate with some cookies.