Family Quirks + the BEST salad dressing recipe

Since going away to college and then living away from home, I have come to realize some odd quirks/habits my family has. Sometimes it takes a little time apart to see things from a different perspective. Some examples…..

  • We refer to all beverages that we drink as “drink.” For example, if my mom wants someone to pass her the iced tea during dinner she will say, “Can I have the drink.” Or in general, if someone is thirsty, they will say, “I need drink.” I feel like this is odd….
  • We have “clothes parties” at my house, meaning, my mom wants us to come downstairs and help her fold the laundry and take it upstairs. These “parties” started when I was about 10 in order for my parents to inspire my sisters and I to help with the laundry, but my mom still implements the term (even though I am 23 and do my own laundry…). The “parties” usually only revolve around towels these days….
  • We always have this one homemade dressing that is always made/kept in the house. We refer to it as “house dressing” (like Italian restaurants do), and you can always find it in our pantry. It is my FAVORITE kind of dressing, but I will only eat it at home. It is so simple to make, but it doesn’t taste the same unless my mom makes it….

I am sure we have plenty more “quirks,” but I’ll leave it at that for now…. Any weird habit/quirks that you/your family have and/or participate in? I know I am not the only one!

Since the “house dressing” I mentioned above is so delicious and so amazing, I thought I’d share the recipe. I just watched my mom make a fresh batch yesterday, so I took note of the ingredients. You probably already have most of the ingredients in your house already, so go make this ASAP! It’s so good!

My lunch from yesterday using said dressing... so good

“House Dressing”

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl until blended together. Store in any type or resealable bottle and/or tupperware container. Pour on any type of vegetable and enjoy!

Have a nice day everyone!

What odd quirks does your family have?

What is your favorite type of salad dressing (homemade or  purchased)? Please share!

A week’s worth of salad ideas

Since I started photographing my meals (especially my lunches), it has come to my attention that I eat A LOT of salad – at least one a day to be exact. I LOVE loading up on fresh foods early in the day and salads are the perfect way to do it. They are filling, healthy and are SO easy to switch up on a daily basis.

I know that a lot of people hate packing their lunches and especially avoid making things like salads because they seem to be too time intensive, but I am determined to show the world (or at least the lunch packers of the world) that it is not only possible, but easy to pack fun and delicious meals everyday. Lunch doesn’t have to be boring!  Wouldn’t it be nice to look forward to lunch and know that you are doing something good for your body/wallet on a daily basis?  It is a myth that lunch packing has to be tedious or monotonous. A weeks worth of various vegetables/grains/proteins can actually provide a limitless amount of fun lunch (salad!) options…..

My lunches of the week….  (including what I had to work with):

(side note: I share all of this food with my sister… just so you are aware that I don’t eat 8 cups of beans by myself in one week)

Vegetables:

  • spinach (1 tub)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 big bag of baby carrots
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 bag each of kale and arugula (the tub of spinach I bought on Sunday which was NOT packed very full… (such a rip off!), so I had to replenish my greens mid-week – which is usually not the case)
  • radish (a few leftover from last week)

Grains:

  • quinoa (I made about 2 cups worth on Sunday night for the week)
  • brown rice spiral pasta (made about 2 cups worth on Sunday night as well)
  • whole grain bread (I will usually eat a slice on the side with my salad if I don’t add a grain into the mix)

Protein:

  • 1 can pinto beans (3 servings a can)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can bean salad
  • lentils (I made 2 cups worth on Sunday when I made the quinoa and pasta) –  enough for approximately 4 meals

Additional items (things that I needed to use up or ingredients that I usually have on hand):

  • goat cheese
  • sunflower seeds
  • blueberries (the last of a pint from last week)
  • radishes (from last week)
  • various vinegars/sauces/dressings

Monday

Fruity spinach salad with quinoa and blueberries

  • spinach
  • quinoa (1/2 cup)
  • pinto beans (1/2 cup)
  • chopped carrots
  • chopped zucchini
  • chopped broccoli
  • chopped radish
  • sprinkle of blueberries (the last of a container from last week)
  • dressing: Trader Joe’s Muscat Orange Vinegarette

Tuesday

Indian-inspired salad with lentils, spinach, quinoa and goat cheese

  • spinach
  • lentils (1/2 cup)
  • quinoa (1/2 cup)
  • chopped carrots
  • chopped broccoli
  • chopped zucchini
  • goat cheese
  • dressing: Trader Joe’s curry simmer sauce/marinade

Wednesday

BBQ sweet potato, kale, and black bean salad

  • kale
  • zucchini
  • sweet potato (1/2 of a medium-sized potato, microwaved and cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • black beans (1/2 cup)
  • quinoa (a small sprinkling of whatever I had left in the fridge… maybe 2 tbsp?? )
  • dressing: Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce diluted with a little water to thin it out

Thursday

Arugula bean salad with sunflower seeds (enjoyed in the sun!)

  • arugula
  • bean salad (1/2 cup)- in a vinegar-based marinade which served as my dressing
  • chopped carrot
  • chopped broccoli
  • sunflower seeds

I also ate a slice of bread on the side with this.

I bought this canned bean salad (with string beans, kidney beans and pinto beans) a longgg time ago and finally used it as a salad topper this week. I loved the vinegar-y and tanginess of this mixture and it felt so light and spring-y. I am inspired to make my own… and may need to make this recipe from Tone It Up in the near future….

Friday

“Pasta salad” with arugula and pinto beans

  • arugula
  • pinto beans (1/2 cup)
  • brown rice pasta (1/2 cup)
  • chopped zucchini
  • chopped carrot
  • chopped broccoli
  • dressing: Trader Joe’s Muscat Orange Vinegar

So there you have it….. I hope I (maybe?) showed how a weeks worth of vegetables can be made into different salad/meal options! I love how  a few basic ingredients can be switched up so easily to make a completely different meal. What can I say, I love my salad.

Do you eat a lot of salads for lunch? If so, how do you keep them exciting? I like to switch up dressings everyday so I never get bored, and I also try to add “fun ingredients” (like blueberries or sweet potatoes) to keep things exciting.

What is your favorite salad combination? I love the mixture of quinoa, goat cheese and broccoli together in salads and have also been loving to add fruit to my salads as well these days

Best thing I packed this week: week 2 (February 10, 2012)

Happy Friday! Anyone doing anything exciting this weekend?

So the time has come again for “The best thing I packed this week” (here is week 1 in case you missed it)!

Best lunch: Roasted brussel sprout, sweet potato and black bean salad (with BBQ hummus dressing)

I can’t take credit for this delicious combination (my sister made it for me), but it was definitely the best thing I ate for lunch this week. Sami (my twin sister who is a busy grad student and lover of healthy packed lunches as well) and I tend to help each other out during the week and make each others lunches on certain days (she usually packs my lunch for Thursday, since I don’t get home until 9:30ish, and I tend to help her out Tuesdays or Fridays). It definitely makes my life a little easier, and I appreciate her SO much for helping me out. Thanks Sam!

This salad contained so many delicious things, I didn’t want it to end. My favorite salads tend be (1) ones with a lot of various ingredients to pick at and taste, or (2) ones that contain different or “less typical” ingredients than the standard salad (think carrot, cucumber, tomato, etc.), This salad definitely fell into the second category with the addition of brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. I am a BIG fan of both (I love roasted brussel sprouts!), and while I typically eat these types of veggies for dinner, it was fun to enjoy them in the middle of the day. 

 I ate around the spinach first (I usually always save the best parts for last in salads) and left all the brussel sprouts, beans and sweet potatoes for last. This salad contained:

  • spinach
  • sweet potato cubes
  • roasted brussel sprouts
  • black beans
  • quinoa

Dressing: Homemade BBQ dressing made with:

  • BBQ sauce (approx 1 tbsp)… I never really measure these things
  • apple cider vinegar (approx 1-2 tsp)
  • a drop or two of water – to thin it out

I love making my own dressings, since I typically don’t tend like many bottled options, and I like to be in control of how much of certain ingredients I use.  Sami is actually a pretty talented dressing maker and is always whipping up some delicious combinations. My favorites of hers include:

  • BBQ (and BBQ Hummus)
  • Honey Balsamic 
  • Honey Mustard-esque dressing

Making your own dressing is really easy, and I find that they taste just as good (if not better!) than many bottled kinds (I HATE that artificial taste in certain types of dressing). Since a dressing can make or break a salad, they are definitely an important feature of my daily meals. What are your favorite kinds of dressing?

Other notable meals of the week….

kale, goat cheese, kidney bean and veggie "pasta" salad

olive tapenade, hummus and kale on whole wheat

So that concludes the “Best thing I packed this week.” I hope you have a great Friday/weekend!

What was the best thing you packed this week?