My summer of salads on Paleo

Just at the end of October last year, there was one word everywhere. Paleo. People were talking about it, people were on it, I was reading about it and boy are there so many blogs about it. A friend was in my ear about it and her sales technique was rather effective; “You can eat meat, chicken, seafood, fruit, vegies, nuts and seeds. But no wheat, added sugar, carbs or dairy.” Seemed simple enough and it was. In the 6 week lead up to a day dedicated to my love of pudding, custard, ham, turkey, mince pies and basically the kitchen sink, Mr ELG and I committed to the Paleo diet. If you’ve read any of my past posts, you will know I am not one to diet (apart from the 21 day wonder diet pre wedding). Food is just too damn good to give up which is why I believe this Paleo diet does wonders for me and Mr ELG. By Christmas day, I was minus six kilos and Mr ELG was looking damn fine having shed 12 kilos.

I am proud to say that Christmas day lived up to all of my foodie fantasies and travels thereafter took me to Melbourne where I was eating fresh grilled lobster and sipping champagne on new year’s eve, to Main Ridge where I was plucking plump strawberries off the vine, to Balnarring where I was chowing down dried fig and gorgonzola pizza at Ciao Bella and finally to the Portsea pub where a glass of Paringa Estate Pinot Noir made me ever so thankful that I was lapping up my summer days; living to eat.

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So this week I am back to the grind, back to the rat race and back to Paleo. The silly season is over and the coast is clear, free from dangling carrots of snacking here and sipping there. It’s by no means a new year’s resolution because again I have no patience for those goals but I am resolute to be fit, be free, know tone and have boundless energy to run after a soon-to-be-terrible-two year old.

And so today and tonight has been coloured by my summer of salads. Sticking to the rules and guided by the refreshed energy of a new year; I feel like a kid with pack of pencils about to colour in way outside the lines.

Armed with a fridge full of fresh food, these are the last two salads I have whipped up from scratch getting rave reviews from Mr ELG and having him go back for seconds. And lastly, I hope you’re also enjoying a fabulous summer; living to eat!

Lunchtime salad

1 packham pear (chopped), 1 handful walnuts (chopped), 1/4 cup cornichons, 1/2 Spanish onion (finely sliced), 1/2 Lebanese cucumber (chopped), 2 cups rocket leaves, 1 handful grape tomatoes, 2 shallots (finely sliced), 1 x 300g chicken breast (poached and sliced), 1 handful continental parsley (chopped). Mix a dressing together of a good lug of extra virgin oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 heaped Tbsp of Dijon mustard.

Combine all ingredients and enjoy the lunchtime crunch. Serves 2.

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A salad for tea and throw in a barramundi too

2 x 250g barramundi fillets, 1 lemongrass stalk (white bit chopped), 1 handful coriander (chopped), 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 Tbsp Tamari sauce, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 Tbsp olive oil. Combine all ingredients in a zip-lock bag and marinate for 30 minutes.

1 mango (diced), 1/2 red capsicum (thinly sliced), 2 cups baby spinach leaves, 1 handful grape tomatoes, 1 shallot (thinly sliced), 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, 1 Tbsp Tamari sauce, 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Combine all ingredients.

Pan fry barramundi for a couple of minutes on each side. Skin should be crisp and caramelised. Serve with salad and sprinkle some extra sesame seeds on your barra before serving.

the missing purple ingredient

So, for the last 9 weeks, I’ve been on what I’ve renamed the Wonder Bride Diet but more commonly known as the Australian Womens Weekly 21-Day Wonder Diet. First up, I had never had skim milk before and I’ve also never been on a fully fledged diet before (thanks to Mum’s genes) and therefore had misconceptions about the value of them and questioned if they really worked? Inspired by wanting to look my best in Vera but by no means in a sacrificial mood or wanting to commit to lent of not eating tasty food altogether, I came across this so-called diet-book at a friend’s house. Her mum had purchased the book at the local shops because first and foremost she thought that the recipes looked good. Flicking through the book, it quickly engulfed me and the next day I bought the book on ebay.

Most of the recipes are fabulous, so tasty you wouldn’t even know they were “diet” food.  I had some girlfriends over for dinner and cooked a fish dish and had them asking me “have you taken a break tonight from the bride diet as this can’t be in the book? !” The basic premise is for 21 days you only eat 20 grams of fat per day with three regular meals and two snacks and the claim is you can lose up to 10 kilos. 30 minutes of exercise per day is encouraged to aid weight loss but is not described as essential. You do need to be somewhat organised to cook the three meals a day as it’s by no means a lite ‘n’ easy route with frozen meals and breakfast in a clear packet but a diet with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegies, a good source of protein and even a bit of carbs as it allows you both pasta and bread albeit it’s rye.

Now, I pride myself on having an extremely well-stocked fridge and pantry most weeks as pre-wonder-bride-diet I often liked to stand in front of the fridge at the end of a weekday and drum up a meal on the spot from the assortment of food available. My man would sometimes roll his eyes as we pushed the trolley around Coles and I placed (what I termed “basics”) in it which could include Plaistowe Dark Cooking Chocolate (in case I wanted to make spur of the moment Caramel slice) or vanilla and chocolate mini meringues (in case people popped around for dinner and an Eton mess dessert was needed). Given my love of cooking I also felt that I had a quite thorough knowledge of most ingredients be it spices, flours, pastas, herbs, sauces or cheese.

So did I feel stumped Week 1 when looking over my shopping list I noticed the word sumac. At first I thought it may have been like semolina or then like a pistachio. Enlightened after a google search I realised that my hunt was to find a purple spice often used in Middle Eastern cooking. My man and I hit up Coles then Woolies scouring the spice aisle trying to find this thing called sumac. We asked bewildered store assistants who queried “is it like cumin” or “is it like basil” and all this left me was feeling even more stumped than before. The recipe said it wasn’t an essential ingredient and could be substituted for something else but this just made me want to hunt it down even more.

It was in a tiny grocer store in Chatswood on a little shelf in a small bag that I finally discovered sumac. It tastes a bit like poppy seed and has a very faint taste but I feel very satisfied that I can now add sumac to my cooking repertoire.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm  Comments (3)  
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