We’ve been on a healthy eating bender at House Morell for months. My Ohio-born, meat-and potatoes-loving husband was gifted a book cheerfully titled How Not to Die over the Christmas holidays. After reading it quite intently over a 36-hour period, he decided to embrace a mostly vegan diet and eschew all processed sugar.
I did not give him this book, I might add.
Though I should note I do adore his company most days and do not want him to die anytime soon, I'm more of an everything-in-moderation gal. Including cookies. And cheese. And cocktails.
But I’ve embraced the challenge. After several months, I’m here to report this radically new style of eating does not seem to be a phase. He’s a seriously disciplined guy. Me, not so much, but I’m rolling.
As I spent several years as a vegetarian in my 20s, I could easily envision a mostly vegetarian plan. Vegan was much harder, but he is my husband...
So, we've experimented with all sorts of new recipes that he once would never have considered dinner fare (lentil dhal, farro soup, tofu stir-fry.) We’ve sought out the vegetarian small plates in Indian, Greek, and Chinese restaurants. He’s been sighted at steakhouses for lunch meetings eating nothing but sides of brussels sprouts and asparagus.
And I’ve been cooking my way through the many plant-based options of Melissa Clark’s fabulous A New Way to Dinner. I just can’t seem to get into that How Not to Die Cookbook. To be honest, I’m put off by the title - it’s so unnecessarily alarming. Instead, I’ve embraced books like Leon’s Happy Salads and Sam Kass’s Eat a Little Better.
We’re both feeling much healthier these days. We seem to have more energy, we’re sleeping better, and (bonus!) I’ve lost a bit of that blogger bottom.
Let me assure you, the bourbon is still in the liquor cabinet and the brown sugar is still in the pantry. Though we’re cooking lighter at home, I remain a committed foodie and believe it would be rude to turn down food of any sort lovingly prepared for me at someone else’s home. If we’re eating cleaner 80 percent of the time, that’s a win.
As you might suspect, I’ve upped my salad game in this new vegetarian world, and look forward to sharing a few on this neglected blog of mine.
First up, this simple beauty, adapted from a recipe in that adorable Happy Salads book. I’m always drawn to brussels sprouts, so it seems a good place to begin. Thinly sliced brussels sprouts and kale serve as a sturdy, almost slaw-like base to a tangy honey-mustard dressing. Dried cherries are tossed in for a nice fruity pop, and the Marcona almonds provide an earthy, salty crunch. It’s an addicting flavor combo.
You might want to add it to your list of happy summer salads.
Things I’ve been crushing on lately:
(Wow, it’s been a while since I posted!)
I was invited to the Spring Fling to benefit DC Greens last week. This organization uses food education, food access, and food policy to advance food justice in our area. These folks know how to throw a party - gorgeous food and cocktails prepared by some of the area’s best chefs, fresh flower crowns for the guests, and fascinating people committed to this mission. I’m looking forward to getting more involved - this is my kind of group.
School’s out for the summer, and I’m starting into my summer reading list - I’m a couple chapters into The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, and I’m here to report it’s beautifully written and fascinating. If you’re interested in how our food is sourced in America, add it to your pile.
I’m embarrassed to admit that until yesterday I’d never seen one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows. (I know, I know, how is it possible given that I too travel the world through the lens of food?) After reading so many tributes to this extraordinary man, I was struck by this quote in particular: “If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.” I watched the (gorgeous, inspiring) London and Buenos Aires episodes of Parts Unknown yesterday. I’m hooked, and now fully understand how heartbreaking Tony’s death this week was. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be binging on Parts Unknown/No Reservations all summer long.
Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Honey-Dijon Dressing
Adapted from Leon: Happy Salads cookbook
Serves four as a lunch-sized serving, serves six to eight as a side dish.
- 4 cups kale, destemmed and finely shredded
- 4 cups brussels sprouts, finely shredded
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup dried cherries
- ¼ cup marcona almonds, roughly chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Honey-Dijon salad dressing to taste
The Honey-Dijon salad dressing
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Place the salad dressing ingredients into a small mason jar and shake until combined (or whisk the ingredients together in a bowl, if you prefer).
- Place the shredded vegetables in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Toss well.
- Drizzle the salad dressing over the veg and toss again until all the veggies are well coated (you may choose not to use all the dressing).
- Add the the dried cherries and marcona almonds and toss again.
- Serve immediately, though the kale and sprouts are sturdy enough that it does hold up for leftovers, if you actually have any left.