A Practical Guide To Healthy Living
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Category — Salad dressings

Late to the Spinach Party – But Let’s Celebrate Anyway!


What? How could I not know this? March 26, 2012 is National Spinach Day?? Did you know that my Baby Spinach Salad, 7 Ways is one of the most popular posts of all-time here on Semi-Sweet? Check out scads of other delish spinach recipes right here, right now! Let’s party down, Sweeties.

Spinach is a superfood that’s ridiculously easy to incorporate into your repertoire – whether you like it cooked, raw or both. Baby or mature, it comes pre-washed and pre-bagged for EZ daily use. I “eat” about 4 cups of organic baby spinach every a.m. in my green smoothie . . . what’re your favorite ways to enjoy this lovely leafy?

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March 27, 2012   No Comments

What I Ate

Don’t you just want to put your face in it?  THIS is what healthy food looks like, and it’s EZ.  Baby spinach + blueberries + raspberries + this DELICIOUS and relatively LOW-CAL creamy balsamic dressing.  Get crazy and scatter a few sliced almonds on top.  Pair it up with a couple of Wasa crackers slathered with Laughing Cow Lite/goat cheese/little nut butter and you have a lunch (or dinner) you can be proud of.  Eat up!

January 20, 2011   1 Comment

CSA Inspirations

picadilly farm logo

This spring and summer, I have the pleasure of being part of the Picadilly Farm CSA.  Each week, I get to pick up a box of goodies, grown organically in New Hampshire.  This past Wednesday was my first pickup, and the box was packed with salad greens, radishes, hakurei turnips, cilantro, bok choy, pea tendrils and some lovely red Russian kale. 

I started getting creative from day one – I love the challenge of being presented with ingredients and having to dream up recipes.  I had a rotisserie chicken in the fridge and so we had whole wheat rollups with lettuce, cilantro, chicken, grated sharp cheddar and enchilada sauce.  The next night was steamed tofu with bok choy and pea tendrils over rice, with a sauce made from low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, tabasco and chopped cilantro.  It was tasty, and it was pretty:

rice bowl

Saturday night, I sauteed the kale and added spicy Italian chicken sausages, tomatoes and garlic and served that over whole wheat penne with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  Delicious comfort food – and the kale was tender and sweet.

sausage and kale

And last night, it was giant salads.  Red leaf lettuce topped with halved cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes and salad turnips.  I added some buffalo chicken meatballs from Trader Joe’s (pretty good and heat ‘n’ eat to boot!) and this delicious ranch dressing, inspired by a recipe in Eating Well magazine:

1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 t. granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 c. chopped fresh chives


Combine all those in a jar and shake it up – preferably a little bit before dinner so that the flavors have some time to mesh . . . it’s creamy, tangy and a great compliment to the spicy meatballs and crisp lettuce.  Here’s what the final creation looked like:

buffalo chicken salad

 So hearty, and healthy . . . and once you start making your own ranch dressing, you’ll never long to go lookin’ for that hidden valley again!

Eating veggies this fresh spoils a girl . . . even for premium produce the likes of Whole Foods’.  There is just no substitute.  I’ll keep filling you in on what I’m doing, and for even more inspiration, check out this great blog, A Bushel of What

Do you belong to a CSA?  What’re you whipping up from your spring share?

June 14, 2010   2 Comments

Teriyaki Tofu Salad


Hey friends, remember me?  Despite what you might think, I haven’t forgotten about the blog . . . truth be told, I’m actually beginning to miss blogging.  I miss interacting with people about food.  Lately I’ve been interacting with people about floor refinishing, wall-painting, hauling our crap from one house to another, end-of-year teacher gifts, etc.  etc. etc.  All good, but as you know, food’s my real passion.   [Read more →]

June 7, 2010   4 Comments

Dressings I Have Loved . . . .

salad w fruit on top homemade

 So I mentioned that I wanted to make more salads, with really good dressings, right?  Well, in my usual type-A way, I’m going nuts trying all sorts of different vinaigrettes. Today, I’m sharing two of my latest favorites.  I gotta tell you – I’m struck by just how good a salad can be if you use homemade dressing.  Like restaurant good, in your own lil’ kitchen.  It’s really, really worth the effort.

The first recipe is for a delicious, creamy feta vinaigrette from an old issue of Food & Wine.  I used this on giant Greek dinner salads – I chopped up a bunch of romaine lettuce, diced up bell pepper, cubed cukes (for me, remember D. is a cuke-phobe), sliced up cherry tomatoes and grilled chicken cutlets (sprinkled with S&P and oregano) to put on top.  It was delicious.   Here’s what you do:

Feta Vinaigrette (adapted from Food & Wine magazine)

3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 c.)
2 ½ T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T. water
½ t. dried oregano
¼ c. plus 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Put the cheese, lemon juice, water, oregano and olive oil into a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.   Makes ¾ cup.

Now this next one – this is the dressing I’ve been nomming all week since I made it.  I am literally craving salad.  Craving a salad?  Yes – it is that good . . . it’s crazy-good – I mean, look at that picture up top – that’s my salad, folks.  Baby spinach leaves topped with sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and baby beets – then dressed with sliced almonds and this most luscious sweet vinaigrette.  How can you not love a bowl of healthy goodness like that?  Health in a bowl, I tell you! Here’s what you do:

Honey Vinaigrette (adapted from Delicious Dishings)

½ c. canola oil
½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat champagne vinegar (regular champagne vinegar will work too; I just love the orangey taste of this stuff!)
3 T. honey


Combine the oils in a measuring cup. Place the vinegar and honey into a blender or food processor. Start the machine and add the oils while the machine is running.  This dressing can be stored in the fridge for a month.

April 30, 2010   4 Comments

Homemade Salad Dressings

 heart with vegetables inside

We’re getting into salad season here, folks – I can feel it!  It was in the 50′s this weekend around Boston and you’d think it was a tropical heat-wave.  People poured out of their homes to get some sun and fresh air.  It’s inspiring.  Big salads are a great way to get a number of your daily veggie servings in one meal . . . add a protein source and you’re good to go.  Easy, healthful and if you play your cards right, tasty.

In honor of the upcoming season of big salads, I’m trying an experiment here.  I’m winnowing down the odds and ends of pre-made salad dressings in the fridge, and I’m going 100% homemade for a while.  Even if “homemade” means drizzling a little EVOO and then a little vinegar (we have sherry, red wine, white, champagne, fig and raspberry in the house right now) over the top.  I have been enjoying the fresh taste of homemade dressings so much lately, and finding the store-bought ones to be too . . . too . . . dunno.  Gloppy?  Heavily seasoned?  Unimaginative?   Just not good.

So along these lines, last night I made a super salad dressing – adapted from one Joanne Chang shared in the November issue of Food & Wine.  D. and I drizzled this over a bed of baby spinach leaves, shredded rotisserie chicken, grated carrots, navel orange slices and chopped peanuts and it was deeelicious.  Sweet and spicy and a little bit creamy.  I can’t wait for lunch today when I’m going to use more on another salad, this time with romaine lettuce*.

This stuff would be so tasty on cold noodles, tossed with thinly sliced scallions and sprinkled with chopped peanuts.  Or on a cold broccoli salad (blanch the florets before so they’re intensely green and a little softer).  For whatever reason, grilled romaine lettuce with a little of this drizzled sounds out-of-the-ordinary and fun – on the list for when grilling season opens.  Really, any combo of salad ingredients would be great – Chang’s F&W recipe includes the fixings for Chinese Chicken Salad, but I was too lazy to go all the way last night.  Whatever you do, I think it’s important to have a little crunch going on . . . so think sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, fried wontons, etc. sprinkled over the finished product.

“Chinese” Salad Dressing (adapted from Joanne Chang)

¼ c. low-fat mayonnaise
¼ c. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
3 T. sugar
¼ c. low-sodium soy sauce
2 T. toasted sesame oil
1 t. Tabasco sauce
1 t. minced ginger
1 small clove of garlic, minced


Whisk all the ingredients in a large bowl. Makes enough to dress 4 servings of salad.

*Update!  I had an early lunch today – I think I liked this salad even more than last night’s!  Chopped crisp romaine lettuce, topped with and orange-worth of halved wedges, grated carrots, 1/2 c. of edamame, this dressing  and chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts.  It was crunchier and sweeter than last night’s, and the romaine let the flavors shine a bit more (spinach is great, but a stronger flavor).  Protein + fiber from the edamame + all those greens and some fruit to boot = a full meal in your bowl.  Highly recommended!

March 8, 2010   5 Comments