So, I love trying new recipes (as you may have guessed). But sometimes recipes can be so….bossy. Sometimes I just want to throw things together and not measure anything. So today, I present to you three sort-of-recipes–blueprints, if you will–using two old favorite ingredients and one superstar newcomer to my kitchen.
Ingredient #1: Wheatberries
These are available in the bulk bins or packaged (I usually buy the Bob’s Red Mill brand) in what my family affectionately refers to as the “nature foods aisle.” They have a great chewy texture and lots of super-duper nutritional qualities. I’ve made several variations on wheatberry salads–all you need to do is cook them according to the package directions, chop up some fruits/veggies/nuts/whatever you have on hand, whisk together a little bit of simple dressing, and toss everything together. Let your creativity run wild, my friends! Here’s what I came up with for my latest variation:
That would be chopped pistachios, arugula, celery, scallions, and pomegranate seeds in the middle. Pretty, eh? I tossed all of those ingredients with the cooked wheatberries and then dressed the salad with a drizzle of my standard vinaigrette (1/2 c. olive oil, 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp. honey, salt and pepper). How’s that for some Suddenly Salad?
Ingredient #2: Chickpeas
In my younger days, chickpeas were just those unappetizing beige things that always showed up on salad bars. But then I pretty much stopped eating meat and looked into other ways to get some protein and now I use them for hummus, salads, veggie burgers, etc. Hummus sort of makes my world go ’round, but I’ve already discussed it here, so let’s talk about a way to let the humble little chickpea shine all on its own. First, drain yourself a can of ‘em, rinse off the icky liquid that comes with, and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
Preheat your oven to 425 and put the chickpeas on a foil-lined baking sheet. Then drizzle with a couple tablespoons of your oil of choice, maybe a tablespoon of vinegar, and sprinkle on some seasoning. The possibilities here are endless…check out this link for some more ideas. Here’s what I used:
I roasted them at 425 for 30 minutes, stirring twice along the way. When they’re done, they make a great crunchy salad topper or simple snack on their own.
Ingredient #3: Kefir
If you google “health benefits of kefir” it seems that the only thing this stuff won’t do for you is balance your checkbook. It’s a fermented milk product (OK, that sounds gross, but stick with me) that’s like either really thick milk or really thin yogurt. I tried it for the first time yesterday and have already decided it’s going to be a staple in my smoothie toolkit.
I blended 1/2 c. kefir with half a banana and 1/3 c. blueberries. It was absolutely, probiotic-ly delicious! It reminded me of when I boycotted yogurt for awhile as a child because one of my brothers (or perhaps both working in concert) told me that the “active cultures” label meant that there were live junebugs in every carton. Good thing I’m all grown-up and smart now.
I hope these no-recipe recipes will inspire you to some healthy cooking in the New Year! And, speaking of the New Year: I’m pretty excited about it. This was the first year in as long as I can remember that I didn’t start off by resolving to lose 10 pounds or stay under 1200 calories or something gloomy like that, and I must say, it’s been a great one. I stopped eating Lean Cuisines and 100-calorie packs and being all neurotic about my stupid bathroom scale. I decided instead I would just enjoy cooking real food and exercising how I wanted to. And thanks to this new philosophy, I’m a both a little bit lighter (literally) and a whole lot lighter (figuratively). So make your resolutions if you want–I’ll be making some because I love fresh starts and self-improvement and all that Oprah/kumbaya kind of stuff. But be nice to yourself when you do, mmmkay? Cheers, everybody!