Eat Clean, Stay Lean!

Standard
Healthy and pretty too!

Healthy and pretty too!

Well, friends, the kids have all gone back to school and we’ve survived subzero temperatures here in the Midwest so it’s officially the start of a new year. As I’ve said in past posts I do not believe in “resolutions” for the new year but I do try to set some goals for myself. One of those goals is to clean up my diet a bit. I ate quite a few sweets over the holidays, and more carbs (pasta, potatoes, etc) than usual. I feel sluggish and bloated right now. So, it’s time to get back to my healthy way of eating or as I call it, “Eat Clean, Stay Lean”. With that in mind I want to share a great salad that I’m eating right now. It’s tasty and satisfying- and healthy too. It’s particularly good at this time of year because oranges are in season right now in California and Florida, thus they’re readily available. The salad can be made with grapefruit as well if you prefer. My girls brought me a few oranges and grapefruit back from their recent Florida vacation, and they’re so juicy and delicious that I’ve used one in this recipe. I think you’ll really like this salad!

Winter Citrus Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Assemble all ingredients first!

Assemble all ingredients first!

1. Assemble ingredients- 1/2 Bag of organic salad greens, 1 orange, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 teaspoon minced onion, 5 black or Greek olives- pitted, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. This is enough for 2 side salads and will give you some vinaigrette left over.

Cut the skin and pith off the orange!

Cut the skin and pith off the orange!

2. Cut the skin and pith off the orange- First cut down the orange to remove the skin and pith. The pith is the white part and it’s quite bitter so make sure you get it all off.

De skinned and pithed!

De skinned and pithed!

This is what the orange will look like after it’s done. Now it’s ready to supreme.

Making supremes!

Making supremes!

3. Supreme the orange- You supreme (pronounced su- prem’) an orange (or any citrus fruit) when you cut the wedges out of the orange defined by the thin membrane that separates the wedges from each other. It makes for really pretty sections of orange in the salad and preserves the juice for the vinaigrette.

Squeeeeeeeze that orange!

Squeeeeeeeze that orange!

4. Preserve the juice- Now you’re going to squeeze the heck out of the orange into a smaller bowl where you’ll make the vinaigrette. It will produce a ton of orange juice, more than you’d expect so keep squeezing til you can’t squeeze no more! 🙂 Then discard the pulp.

Vinaigrette made!

Vinaigrette made!

5. Make the vinaigrette- Add the minced onion, salt and pepper to your orange juice. Give a quick stir and then add your EVOO while whisking continually until combined. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Add oranges and olives to your greens!

Add oranges and olives to your greens!

6. Get your salad ready for the vinaigrette- Add the oranges and olives to your salad greens in a large bowl. Then, pour approximately half the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well. Save the rest of the vinaigrette for future salads. It also tastes really nice added to quinoa or as a marinade for chicken or fish.

And that’s it! This is a delicious and nutritious salad. Flavorwise, you get the sweet/salty combination that I love from the oranges and olives, and the bit of minced onion gives it a nice flavor. Nutritionally, the oranges add a ton of vitamin C, the greens give antioxidants and fiber, and the EVOO and olives add heart healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFA’s). I ate this salad with a leftover pork patty we grilled the other day and a dollop of guacamole. Definitely a meal that works for my “Eat Clean, Stay Lean” goal. Try it, you’ll really like it! It will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

 

Baby it’s Cold Outside! Comfort in the CCCCCCCCOLD!!

Standard
Brutally cold but I'm still smiling!

Brutally cold but I’m still smiling!

Yikes it’s cold here in the Midwest! By cold, I mean 8 degrees below zero cold- and that’s not wind chill, that’s actual temperature, my friends. That was the temperature when I awakened this morning, and had to take my dogs out on leash because my little dog runs through the invisible fence. His wee paws froze after about 2 minutes and I had to bring him in to thaw before trying to take him out again so he could do his duty. That kind of cold is beyond description, you just have to experience it to know what I mean.

My backyard right now! Yikes!

My backyard right now! Yikes!

It’s worse because my daughters, sister and niece are currently in Florida experiencing their version of cold- 60 degrees, as I’m shivering here in Indiana. My house is pretty warm and cozy on a regular basis, but in this kind of cold even my house seems drafty and chilly. When it’s so disgustingly frigid out, I need peace more than ever, and I turn to my tried and true, sure fire ways to feel cozy and happy no matter what the temperature. In past posts, I mentioned ways I feel comforted when experiencing stress of any kind, reading my Kindle, listening to music, taking a bath, spending time spiritually, and a good meal/glass of wine. I thought today I’d share ways in which I help myself feel especially contented when it’s warm.

Jac and a light saber!

Jac and a light saber!

1. Watching a good movie– I love to watch movies when it’s cold out, or when I’m sad/stressed. My favorite movies to watch are the Star Wars series, and I admit I’m sort of a Star Wars freak. I have watched the series probably 50 times or more, and I never get tired of watching the movies. Something about the whole good versus evil thing, with good winning out just gets me every time.

Love me some Yoda!

Love me some Yoda!

The good thing is that I’ve infected my family with my Star Wars mania and they love Star Wars too. Jacqueline has a Han Solo frozen in carbonite phone case (watch the series for explanation), and the girls gifted me with a visit to the traveling Star Wars exhibition last year at the Indiana State Museum for Mother’s Day, and they enjoyed it almost as much as I did. My Honey gave me the light saber you see in the picture of Jac for Christmas this year, it is glass, and he chose the colors and sounds for it. What a guy! Anyway, watching any of the six Star Wars movies never fails to make me feel cozy and comforted, so whatever your favorite movies are- watch them with your family and you’ll feel all warm inside!

Cozying up with dogs should never be underrated!

Cozying up with dogs should never be underrated!

2. Dogs (or cats if that’s your preference)- My dogs have always comforted me in times of sadness. They’re also excellent at warming up my toes and lap by laying on me when I’m cold. Whenever my little guy, Chewie, sees a blanket come out on any member of our family, he comes running to share in the cuddle time. I can’t remember a time when they’ve failed to give me warmth and love. They give me so much more than I give them, and I love them so much!

A soft blanket made even better by my children's faces on it!

A soft blanket made even better by my children’s faces on it!

3. A cozy blanket– When my daughters went away to college, I had a blanket made for each of them with different pictures of family and friends on it, hoping that it would comfort them by laying under all of the loving people in their lives. I wanted them to feel like we were all holding them in a warm embrace, even when they were far away from home. They both have told me that it is one of the best things they have at college, and it reminds them they are loved by lots of people. I had them made on Walmart.com and they are relatively inexpensive, $60ish. It’s pretty easy to download the pictures and create the collage of photos. I paid a little extra for the larger blanket with the thicker fleece and felt it was well worth it. Imagine my surprise when my girls had a blanket made for me last year with pictures of the three of us on it, so that I would feel comforted when they both went away to college for the first time last fall! I love my blanket and use it almost every day. When they left to go on their trip to Florida, the first thing I did after coming home from dropping them off at the airport was lay on the couch under my blanket of our faces. It’s soooo cozy and makes me happy to use it. I highly recommend having one made for your loved ones too! And have them make one for you!

Past Disney trip, modified with a few extra faces by my Honey!

Past Disney trip, modified with a few extra faces by my Honey!

4. Looking forward to a warm trip (or looking back fondly on a past one)- Another way I make myself feel better when it’s cold out or when I’m sad, is to either look forward to an upcoming warm trip or reminisce about a past one. I love to look at pictures from past trips we have taken, I can almost feel the sunshine jump out of the pictures and into my body!

Recent family trip to Key West- good times in a beautiful place!

Recent family trip to Key West- good times in a beautiful place!

I also love to plan future family trips to warm places. We are going to Florida over spring break, and it is such fun to spend time working out the details of our sunny trip to a warm location when it is so bleak and cold outside. It makes me feel like I’m there, at least for a short while.

Watching my girls cheer on my Boilers- happiness!

Watching my girls cheer on my Boilers- happiness!

5. Watching my favorite team (and my favorite cheerleaders)- Even before my daughters were cheerleaders I loved to watch my Boilers. We had season tickets to Purdue football for years when the girls were little, and went to many basketball games. We also liked watching the games on television when we couldn’t attend them. Now, it’s so much better when I can not only watch my Boilers, but I can watch my beloved daughters cheer for them too. It’s a definite win-win for me! I particularly love watching the NCAA basketball tournament in March. March Madness is so infectious, and jumping up and down to cheer on my team warms me up too! Go team go!

Well, that’s all I have time for today, Folks, but there are so many other things I love and that bring me comfort. They are dark chocolate, cooking, exercise, popcorn, cookbooks, coffee, spicy food, and writing my blog! I couldn’t live without these, along with all the others I mentioned above. They get me through bleak and cold times in my life, both outside and inside as well. I hope my list of favorites helps you and inspires you to surround yourself with love and serenity. You deserve it, my wonderful readers. It will help you lead a life of vitality- with Valerie!