My Personal Mini-Bar
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.
Great idea! I am of the sloth category that doesn’t want to chew so much. 🙂
Actually, I do enjoy good salads when I have the right dressing and washed greens. Adding the special extras and keeping them in one big bin is a superb idea. 🙂
On May 5, 2005 at 6:39 am
Great idea! I’m forever buying yummy organic baby spinach only to have it wilt away uneaten in my fridge. I love the idea of having assorted yummy add-ins right there with the spinach in the fridge. Thanks for posting your idea; consider it stolen 😉
On May 5, 2005 at 10:35 am
Lissa,I know you just had to be thinking of me with my big cookie-dough bowl and wooden spoon always ready to make a big batch of warm, yummy cookies!Seriously,I love your insight,and I also love fancy salads.Incidentally,I just bought some blue cheese crumbles yesterday!I am going to try your splendid idea.BTW,do you bother to use any dressing?And I think some chopped herbs(perhaps basil or dill?) would fit in nicely!Happy grazing:)-Eileen
On May 5, 2005 at 7:14 pm
Wow… I am sooooo glad my first impression of you is slaughtered…. whoa. 🙂 NOT all the wonderful things I immediately witnessed (your genuine nature, kindness, wit and beauty) but I am supremely happy you are a cookie monster. I was a bit worried you were a health nut. I can’t stand feeling convicted of my need for Cheetos.
So, I am off to see if fancy salads may work for me. Can I sprinkle on some Cheetos?
On May 8, 2005 at 8:15 pm
Gee, Lissa, here I am nibbling a homemade chocolate chesecake slice…….and I have to get online to read this????
Too bad I ate it all gone, or I would share it with you. The chocolate cookie crust was SO yummy!
On May 11, 2005 at 10:43 pm
Lesley Austin says:
I will join you in confessing that I do exactly the same thing…tho’ cake and scones are my weakness! : )
Your idea is really helpful, Lissa and I shall gather all the bits I have for salad-making into one place now.
Our favorite summer meals are actually salads….the kind you describe with the addition of beans, or cheese
and crushed tortilla chips or croutons….the possibilities are endless!
On May 16, 2005 at 9:07 pm
I’m glad to be reminded of this post again. (It was a favorite last year!) Salad sounds like just the thing this time of year.
On May 5, 2006 at 9:45 pm