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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

People occasionally ask me how I stay in shape if I eat so many baked goods. Well... for starters, this recently taken image of equipment in my garage is generally how I study.
When it's time for general reading or reviewing materials, I hope on the treadmill or get on my bike trainer. I had a friend invite me to stay with her in Minnesota for the month of February to help study for the bar exam. It was difficult to explain that the reason I couldn't come stay with her is because I study while moving. Honestly, I really like eating. But I dislike when my pants are tight. And studying involves a lot of sitting. This in turn makes me crazy. So, I try to find ways to move, a lot. It might be extreme but this is how I've always been. I have problems sitting still. I always have. Ask my parents. They'll tell you that they used to strap me in my chair at the dinner table because I'd take one bite, get up and go run around, come back for another bite, get up and run around.

Then again, it's not like I'm eating baked goods constantly. I do indulge daily on a tiny treat (like a piece of candy) and I firmly believe that everyone should eat what they want, in moderation, but I'm not one of those people who bakes every single day. Trust me, I wish I was. But for the sake of my cholesterol, I'm pretty strict on myself. I'm always conscious of my portions and I eat a ton of salads, like the one in this post, and fruits and vegetables. I do snack, a lot, but my snacks normally consist of carrot sticks and hummus. And I keep my intake of processed snacks very minimal. So, Ron and I keep ourselves in fairly decent shape. It's important to me and it's important that we are as active as possible. We didn't always have this mindset. You see, once upon a time, Ron and I lived in a house where the pantry was like your own personal fun trip to the grocery store every time you opened the door. I had no less than seven boxes of cereal (a delicious assortment of boxes like Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams, Trix) at the house at any given time. We also had various kinds of chips, pop-tarts, granola bars and other snack items constantly on hand. Then, I woke up and realized what we'd been doing to our bodies. Since then, we've lost a collective weight of 75 pounds.

We're strict but also relaxed. And we judge our conscious eating in various ways. For example, we have about six chip clips in the house: 3 large and 3 small. The smaller ones tend to care for things like wheat germ or flax meal. However, the 3 larger ones are for our snacks... the chips or candy or whatever. When all three big chips are used, I know it's time to reign in our snacking. The other day, I noticed all three were in use. Now, we've been back from Florida for nearly two weeks. But we haven't snapped out of vacation-mode eating. The Disney dining plan blessed us with a lot of food and we came back with a ravenous sweet tooth; so I baked up a pumpkin pie!  (It was so good, totally worth it, and it will be posted soon.) And we definitely didn't let it go to waste. So, after noticing our chip clips after cleaning out an empty pie pan, I quickly realized that it was time to nip our "vacation-eating" in the bud for the time being. Hence, this nice winter salad. It is very satisfying and has enough variety to please anyone's taste buds. The dressing was awesome - it's one of several home-made salad dressings I like to keep on hand - and was so flavorful. It is an easily adaptable meal. Choose any type of nut, mix up your cheese, or swap out the fruit. This salad alone provides a filling dish but can easily be accompanied with a main protein dish, if you'd prefer. The original recipe included bacon but I opted to leave it off of mine. However, I can imagine that the bacon would be a delicious accompaniment to this salad. Most importantly, the salad was relatively healthy and provided enough greenery to put me back on track to snap out of vacation eating mode.
Winter Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
from Greens and Chocolate
Yield: 2-3 large servings
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 medium pears, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled, optional
  • 6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  1. To make the salad: Toss together the romaine, pears, cranberries, pecans, feta, and bacon, if using.
  2. To make the dressing: Combine maple syrup, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and salt; whisk to combine. 
  3. Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Gradually add more dressing, according to your liking. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. The treadmill is exactly how I studied for the bar, too! I had a cardboard platform across the hand rails for my laptop and book. Moving while reading always helps my attention span. Too funny! :)