Salads aren’t so easy to love. They get a bum rap for being “healthy,” which automatically puts some kind of red flag in my mind that means “less delicious.” I hate that that’s the truth, but it is. Of course, the neverending media reports of restaurant calorie counts show that salads can easily be drenched in gobs of cheese, croutons, and creamy dressings to make them full-fledged fat bombs, but I think my problem with them is that I struggle to overcome my “it’s not satisfying” complex.
You see, every time I eat a salad, I never feel truly full. Or, at least, I convince myself I’m not as I gaze longingly at the vending machine M&Ms two hours later. It’s like I’ve mentally told myself, “yup, this is a salad, so no matter how great it is, you’ll never be satiated by it.” My friend, a recently minted psychologist, says it’s a story I tell myself. Kind of like when you meet someone and you automatically assume something about the way they look—rich or poor, humble or stuckup, glamorous or practical—it’s a natural impulse, and we do it about food all the time.
It’s a habit I’m trying to break by noting the healthful—and filling—aspects of my salad (The protein! The fiber! The lycopene!). Sometimes, even guesstimating the calories helps, since it shows me that yes, this is a substantial meal. It’s nourishing me; not just a bunch of yard trimmings designed to make me feel healthy.
Throughout the month of August, I’m experimenting with salads and trying new ways to rethink my attitude toward greens.
What dishes bring out your culinary prejudices? Let’s rant, rave and joke all about them on Twitter: #foodstereotypes
Avocado BLT Salad
1 head of arugula (or 1 bag mixed greens)
1/2 package turkey bacon, low sodium
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 bag baby carrots
Time commitment: <10 minutes
- Wash your vegetables thoroughly, then tear the arugula into bite-sized pieces. Distribute into four bowls (or four resealable tubs, if you’re making lunch in advance).
- Turn a burner to medium heat, then place a few strips of bacon on a frying pan. Cook until they’ve turned dark pink and have shrunken slightly. Move them to a plate lined to paper towels to remove any excess grease, and take in that salty, bacony aroma filling your kitchen.
- Slice the avocado in half, remove the pit and the hard skin, then dice the flesh. Dice the carrots and quarter the tomatoes, then distribute all vegetables evenly in the four containers.
- Crumble the bacon, and divide it among the four bowls.
- When ready to eat, drizzle with salad dressing of your choice (I like a little Ranch or Sun-Dried Tomato Italian). Don’t put dressing on anything you’re making for later in the week; it’ll only cause the lettuce to wilt.