Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Large Salads and Small Pork Chops

In an effort to both eat healthier and to save some cash, I have been making a concerted effort lately to bring my lunch to work with me every day.Also, because I have better things to think about in the morning, and because my brain is still in low gear until my first coffee of the day, I tend to make the same thing pretty much every morning - a big salad and a little pork chop.

I decided recently that I should really get on this whole 'losing weight' thing, and a friend suggested that a good way to do that would be to go vegetarian. Now, I don't have anything against vegetarians or vegetarianism, it's just not a choice that I would make for myself. To be honest, I like meat way too much to do that. To even consider living without steaks or chops or burgers, the mind boggles. Not to mention bacon. Ahhh, bacon. But I'm getting a little off-track here.

As a child of the '70s and '80s, the phrase "You may not" is not one of my favourites. My instinctive response is "Don't tell me what to do", and then nothing gets done. However, I've had to rethink my whole decision-making process as it applies to menu creation, and cooking healthy meals. I've found that if I take "You may not" and change it to "I don't want to", things tend to work a bit better. I could spout some inspirational rhetoric right now, but I just find that if I truly want to do something (or not do something), then I can make it happen.

So, although the veggie route is not one I will be taking, I have been making a concerted effort to increase my vegetable intake at every meal, to make sure that I eat my leafy greens, and also to reduce the amount of meat eaten in a day. All it takes to do this, is a little preparation when I get home from the grocery store.

If I buy a large package of ground beef, then before it goes into the freezer I divide the meat up into three- or four-ounce portions. With chicken legs and pork chops, I wrap them all individually. My old system, which was to cook a bunch of food and then "save some for later", never really worked that well. It used to be "OK, I guess I'll thaw the entire pound of ground beef, because I don't feel like trying to saw through it when it's frozen." Then of course, I would just end up eating the whole thing. Not good.

Since I started this blog over a year ago now, and since I've taken a more active interest in cooking, I've found that several things I used to buy pre-made are really easy (and cheaper) to make myself. Take salad dressing. Nothing ruins the good intentions of a nice green leafy salad like some creamy, high-cal dressing. All you need is oil, balsamic vinegar and water, and you've got salad dressing. Oh yes, and a funky vintage Good Seasons salad dressing cruet with measuring lines on the side. Heh. Found it at a yard sale for a quarter. I use it all the time, it's one of my favourite kitchen gadgets. I just add the vinegar to the line, add the water to the next line, then fill with oil. Add a little fresh ground pepper, and a small splootch of honey-dijon mustard, et viola! A tasty balsamic vinaigrette.

The salad is assembled as follows:

Gallumphing Gourmand's Tasty Lunchbox Salad
serves 1

* Red leaf lettuce
* one plum tomato, chopped
* two green onions, chopped
* two radishes, chopped
* 1/4 green pepper, chopped
* three or four medium mushrooms, chopped
* small squirt of balsamic vinaigrette
* one small grilled pork chop, sliced

It's taken some adjustment to go from standard food court grub like rice-and-two-items combos or large pastrami sandwiches to eating the salad every day. But I find that after a few weeks of doing this, I've gotten used to it. And now that I've started to incorporate actual exercise into my daily routine, I'm starting to feel the results, if not actually see them yet. I look forward to the salad, because it makes me feel good.


Allen of EOL said...

Keep up the good work! I haven't been able to get into the routine of making/taking lunch each day, but I'm impressed with people who can.

Ian said...

Thanks, Allen. It really has helped me to eat healthier on a daily basis, not to mention saving me a lot of cash. Cheers!

Skeezix said...

Homemade dressing is the bomb, and I've got some suggestions for when you are looking to mix it up a little bit:

1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all together and enjoy! It is really refreshing and my favorite new thing to put on salads. I totally mix it up in my Good Seasonings dressing jar.

Also for those times when you want something different Amy's Naturals Low Fat Raspberry Vingarette is the goddamn bomb. I love that stuff.

Ian said...

Hi Skeez,

Mmmm, the lemon dressing sounds great. I've never heard of Amy's Naturals, but I'll keep an eye out for it. :-{>