Saturday, March 5, 2011

Christmas Salad!

Kalloo-kallay! It's Saturday!!!

And I got to go spend the day with loving family-in-laws :)

I was very excited to go over and share some nutritional tidbits with my sister-in-law, as she is the predominant cooker for the home. She's been trying to learn nutrition, and navigate the chaotic, conflicting waves that health information runs.

We wanted to try a green smoothie, but time got away from us. We started with a new salad, and just never made it to the smoothie! But that's okay, because the salad was a new experience for me, as well! And so good!

A Borders Bookstore near us recently began its Going Out Of Business sale (sadness!), and so I snagged this lovely book at a discount:
It is filled to overflowing with recipes packed with vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, spices, herbs, and some fruits. All natural goodness! I had picked it up at the library, and when I began looking through the recipes, there were just too many that sounded sooo good! So, I knew I had to buy it. Hooray!!

And, with no real plan to sort through the many recipes, I just figured - start at the beginning and work my way through! (With some modifications for available ingredients and some personal preferences, of course.)

The first recipe to try was Bok Choy Paneer, which had a sauce that was flavored with Garam Masala, a blend of spices commonly used in Indian dishes. I found a lovely blend at Whole Foods, and am in love! While it seems the exact ingredient list varies, it looks like they all tend to be a blend of savory and spicy items. Some of the common spices (according to Wikipedia) are black and white peppers, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, coriander, and other exotic flavors I hadn't heard of, like malabar leaves and pappali. And I think the blend I bought must have had a little cayenne or chili powder or something, because there was just a slight heat kick to it!
I wasn't sure about sharing the recipe, but since it can also be found online here, I'll post what they have since it's public access.
Bok Choy Paneer
3 C Bok Choy, Shredded
1/2 C Red Bell Pepper
2 T fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 C pine nuts
1 C walnuts, soaked (1-2 hrs)
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 T Ginger juice (I just used a chunk of ginger)
1 T Garam Masala
1/2 T Celtic sea salt
1/2 T garlic, minced
1/4 T fresh ground pepper
Combine bok choy, bell pepper, and basil. Set aside. In food processor or blender, blend the rest until smooth (add water if needed, to desired consistency) Combine with bok choy mix, and marinate 1-2 hours. Serves 4-6.
(Or two to three when we just keep picking at it!!)

Bok Choy is part of the cabbage family, so shares the wonderful health benefits, including a high concentration of beta-carotene and vitamin A. It also has amazing amounts of bone-strengthening, cancer-fighting Vitamin K! Bok is also an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich fiber food.

The dish has an interesting flavor, as I have always associated spices like cinnamon and clove with sweet dishes like pumpkin pie and cookies! But there is no sweetener in the sauce, so it was a savory cinnamon! Very unique, and my sister-in-law made the comment that she felt like she was tasting Christmas!

And with those pretty colors, it even looks like a good holiday dish! I shall have to save this one to share with family around the holidays (and enjoy on occasion before then, too!)

Even Dave, who had just indulged in several pieces of pizza, grabbed my salad plate out of my hand and kept eating it, commenting that it was such a unique flavor.

So, good reviews all around tonight! And I'll have to see what else I can do with the sauce. The recipe calls for marinating the salad for an hour with the sauce, but I also made extra and kept some separate to use it like a dressing whenever I had another salad. I also think it could make a good spread on a sandwich or lettuce wrap. I wonder if it could be dehydrated into a cracker of some sort... hmmm.... I'll have to experiment and let you know!

Have a wonderful day, and don't let the relaxation of the weekend let you falter too badly from healthy lifestyles!! Go for a walk, have some lemon water, have a salad, but mostly - have a huge smile and enjoy! Take care!


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