One of the most common questions I get in regard to my blog is “how do you not weigh 500 lbs!?” Dan gets asked this on regular, too.
The answer is not too surprising: we eat healthy about 80-85% of the time and leave room to indulge during the remaining time. This blog is not really representative of the way we eat day to day in real life. We definitely eat all the dishes I share here, but not necessarily the ENTIRE batch or pot or whatnot. And definitely not with the same frequency you see here. If we do eat a batch of cookies between the two of us, we balance it out with light soups and salads the rest of the week.
I am NOT a dieter. I don’t believe in diets. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t for other people; they’re just not for me. I love food and I want to enjoy every bite I put into my mouth, savor every calorie. As soon as I get it in my head that I can’t have something, I want it. And I cave. Thus, diets are not for me.
Eating reasonably majority of the time is what works for us. Then, I can eat a fluffy cinnamon roll on Christmas morning and not feel like crap about it for the next three days. Ya know?
We’re also fairly active people. Dan does a lot of p90x focused workouts, and I love running and yoga. I have been doing a new mixed martial arts/kickboxing routine these past few weeks that has been awesome. I also got a Fitbit for Christmas and have been finding myself moving more consciously then ever before (“Oh, I only have 150 more steps to pass my goal from yesterday!”).
One of my resolutions this year is to eat a big entree-style salad for dinner at least a couple times a week. Eating enough greens is a constant struggle for me, despite my regular green smoothie regimen. If I told you the number of plastic containers of mixed greens I’ve thrown out, you’d probably stop being friends with me. Seriously.
So, to kick things off right, I made a huge, honkin’ green salad and topped it off with all of my favorite things of the moment.
The first being roasted butternut squash. Are you sick of hearing me talk about butternut by now? If so, sorry, but it’s not going away any time soon. I adore the stuff, and I incorporate it whenever possible in soups, salads, and apparently, risotto. It’s sweet enough to get me excited and adds a gorgeous pop of orange.
Next up is farro. Gosh, do I love this grain. Not only is it incredibly good for you (it’s loaded with fiber and protein), but it also has the best texture. Kind of soft and chewy. I like it so much better than brown rice. It keeps me more interested. It’s fantastic in soups or sprinkled over salads. Oh, and apparently, in risotto. Are we sensing a trend here?
We also have pomegranates going on in two ways here, both in the vinaigrette and in the form of arils. Aren’t pomegranate arils just the most beautiful thing? They are a foodstylist’s dream, too, because they make everything more festive and pretty. I love the tart pop of flavor they add, too.
The vinaigrette is drinkable. I swear. It has pomegranate juice, two kinds of mustard, and a vinegary tang. Ugh. It’s perfection. I think it might be incorporated into our regular salad dressing rotation.
The star of the show is a big piece of seared, crispy-skinned, wild-caught salmon. Each salad needs a piece of this salmon. Even though Dan is not a fan of salmon in general, he can appreciate it when it’s cooked perfectly with a crispy exterior and buttery, flaky interior. I season mine very simply with salt and pepper and sear it in some canola oil. Easy peasy but incredibly good for you!
The whole shebang gets garnished with some dried cranberries and toasted pepitas. The reason? I believe that almost every salad should have a dried fruit and nut/seed component. They keep things interesting visually but also texturally. And, um, they taste good! Duh.
I ate this for lunch the other day and was full for hours and hours afterward. It has everything you need in one meal, and it’s one you don’t have to feel badly about eating. It’s delicious, satisfying, and a nutritional powerhouse of a meal.
I know we’re all focused on our caloric intake this time of year, and while I try to maintain a healthy and happy relationship with food, I know how tempting it can be to fall into deprivation mode. This salad can help prevent you from doing that!
Go ahead. Have your salad and eat it too. I promise you’ll like it.
2 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed well
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup toasted pepitas (or nuts/seeds of choice)
½ cup pomegranate arils
6 cups mixed greens
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
¼ cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (6-oz) skin-on salmon filets
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F and place the cubed squash on a large baking sheet. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until tender and caramelized. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, place the farro and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan along with 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain off any excess water and allow the farro to cool.
Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and mix well to combine. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking constantly. Season the dressing, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the salmon, skin side down, in the hot pan and cook for 4 minutes or until the skin is crispy and rendered. Flip the salmon over gently and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan and allow to cool slightly.
To each serving bowl or plate, add mixed greens, the roasted squash, the cooked farro, dried cranberries, pepitas, pomegranate arils, and a piece of the salmon. Drizzle everything liberally with the vinaigrette and serve.
I like to serve this while the heated components are still slightly warm (but not hot). The warm fish and farro, for example, are extra delicious with the cooler salad components.