Friday, August 23, 2013

Jicama Arugula Salad

It’s hot here.  I mean, really hot.  I don’t mind it at all, but I do tend to stay away from big, hearty meals and eat more salads for lunch.  (Thank goodness, something has to balance out all the Mexican food I’m shoving in my face for the rest of the time)  Just like the Pad Thai Zucchini Salad I have found this salad to be very easy and healthy and it’s the perfect lunch for me on a hot Texas day.

I first heard of jicama a few years ago when I was working at a restaurant in Las Vegas.  I was poolside working on my tan while studying, trying to memorize the menu and all the ingredients when I came across one of our appetizers that stated it was topped with an orange jicama salsa.  For starters, I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce it, let alone what it was!  A quick Google search and I learned the “j” is pronounced with an “h” sound.  (hic-uh-muh)  I also learned it’s a round, hard root vegetable, often compared to resembling a potato.
Here is a picture in case you’ve never seen one:

The orange jicama salsa garnish was delicious on the dish in Vegas, but I never ate it at a restaurant again until I moved to Wichita.  One evening, my friends Katie and Brittany and I went to a cooking class at a local restaurant and made a salad with watermelon, cucumber, jicama and sriracha sauce among a few other ingredients.  It was delicious!  Who am I kidding; I’ll eat about anything with sriracha sauce on it, though!  I’ve made the salad from that cooking class a couple times, but it’s definitely a side dish and Josh won’t touch it so I don’t make it often.
When I saw this recipe in my inbox a few weeks ago I was intrigued because it utilized jicama.  So, the next week when I was grocery shopping and saw jicama in the produce section I grabbed one and was ready to go.  (Even if you haven’t seen it or noticed it before, jicama should be at most grocery stores.)
The e-mail I received with this recipe was from Sugar Free Mom.  I’ve mentioned her on my blog before and I relate the most to her postings because like me, she is very focused on watching her sugar intake.  There’s no need to worry about sugar in this recipe though, so eat up!  This salad is full of yummy, healthy ingredients. 
If you haven’t tried jicama before I highly encourage you to do so.  It’s a great summer addition to salads because it adds a nice crunch and is perfect because no cooking is necessary.  Just peel, chop and get to eating.  
Jicama Arugula Salad

Recipe from:

2 pounds jicama, peeled, thick matchstick slices
2 limes, juice and zest
1 teaspoons salt
1 yellow pepper, sliced (about 2 cups)
½ cup sliced red onion
1 cup arugula
1 cup butter lettuce, chopped
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
1 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place jicama in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and juice of limes and zest.  Let stand 15 minutes to soften.
In a serving bowl add all remaining ingredients and top with jicama. Gently toss with salad tongs.
Serve or refrigerate. Makes approximately 10 cups.

*I couldn't find butter lettuce at the store so I used arugula and spinach.  Since the dressing is very light I recommend making sure you use a bold flavored lettuce...just spinach and romaine won't cut it for this recipe.  Arugula is one of my favorite leafy greens and it adds so much to this dish.  I don't usually like fresh parsley much, but cilantro I could probably eat a handful of plain so I went with that option.  Plus, I always have some in my fridge.  I was so surprised by how flavorful this was.  Enjoy!



Monday, August 19, 2013

Pad Thai Zucchini Salad

We’ve been in Texas for a little over three weeks.  A few of my thoughts so far…

-The people are very friendly here, which always makes meeting people and running errands much more enjoyable.
- I learned I have to search a bit, but I can find good places to eat here. What I mean by that is the restaurants that show up when you search for places in Temple are all fast food or chains.  The types of places I want to try don’t always have websites or Facebook pages, but if I dig around enough they are out there!  (Hmmm…I need a job, should I go to all these places and offer to be their social media girl and welcome them to 2013?) 
-Josh has made it his goal to go the whole year and not pick up on saying, “Y’all”.  We shall see how that goes! 

-There is a very important part about Texas that is a huge pro as well as a con.  They serve Mexican food (one of my faves!) for breakfast.  It’s like I’m in Mexico all the time.  I can get guac and breakfast tacos right when I wake up.  Love it!  The health freak in me tells me not to get too excited and to limit myself, but I’ll only be here a year, right?  I must take full advantage.  Oh, and they make homemade tortillas right in the grocery store that are divine.  If I thought I had a guacamole addiction before, I’m in real trouble now! 
-We also visited a church that was recommended by someone and really enjoyed it so we are just checking things off the list and making ourselves right at home.
-I do have one good story…the head of Josh’s fellowship program here took us out for a welcome dinner at a BBQ place about 25 minutes outside of town.  It was in the middle of nowhere, you ate outside, the owner had a handle bar mustache and a cowboy hat on, and they only serve a few months out of the year and only on Friday and Saturday.  We sat down and I noticed the t-shirts the servers were wearing had the word tofu written on the back with a big no sign on top.  So, you know, totally my kind of restaurant.  Ha ha!  Actually, the service was great, the coleslaw I had was delicious, and the company was wonderful.  As I said, people here are so welcoming and friendly!  It was just one of those moments where I sat there and was singing to myself…”Deep in the heart of Texas.”  Ladies and Gentlemen, I have arrived.

Now that you got the quick update on us, let’s get to the good stuff.  I tried this recipe right before we moved and have made it twice already since we got here.  It’s a perfect summer salad that could be a nice starter to a meal or used as a main dish, like I do.  It was also a fabulous choice for me after I ate all those breakfast tacos!  It’s pretty quick to throw together if you have a mandolin.  If not, your prep time will increase quite a bit for your zucchini and carrots. 

Such a beautiful salad.  It tastes as good as it looks!

My mom sent me this recipe after it was e-mailed to her from Oh She Glows, a vegan blog that also often features gluten free recipes. When my mom forwarded this to me I knew I had to try it and I’m so glad I did.  Healthy, colorful, nutritious, beautiful, and oh so tasty! 

Pad Thai Zucchini Salad 

*Recipe from

1 medium zucchini, julienned with mandolin or cut with knife
2 large carrots, julienned
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
3/4 cup frozen edamame, thawed (or try tofu)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

For the dressing:
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup raw almond butter (or peanut butter)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons water
2.5 teaspoons pure maple syrup (or other sweetener)
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Prep vegetables. Add the zucchini, carrots, pepper, and cabbage into one or two large bowls. Toss with hands to combine.

Prepare the dressing by processing all dressing ingredients in a mini processor (or simply whisk by hand). The dressing may seem a bit thin at first, but it thickens as it sits.

Top bowls with edamame (or tofu), green onion, hemp seeds, and sesame seeds. Pour on dressing.

Makes 2 large servings.

*I used almond butter because I thought that was a nice change from peanut butter.  It was great, but if you don't have any, peanut butter will be delicious too.  I happened to have all these ingredients on hand one day so that's why I tried the recipe. However, I didn't have any cabbage so I just added some extra of the other veggies.  I also didn't have hemp seeds so I only sprinkled sesame seeds on top.  Also, the tamari that is in the sauce can be substituted with soy sauce.  Tamari is just a gluten free soy sauce like substitute, but if you aren't worried about gluten soy sauce works just the same.  ENJOY!  Seriously, this stuff is awesome and super fun to eat with chopsticks!



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Drying washed lettuce

It’s official, we are residents of Texas!  We are all unpacked and settled in and I have a very good excuse for not blogging as of late.  While I was a bit nervous to see our duplex, sight unseen, it turned out to be fabulous!  It’s brand new construction so we are the first to live in it, which is a super plus for a germ-freak like moi.  The down side of our brand new development is there are no Internet service providers here yet.  Who knew there were even areas this still happened?  I may be in a small town, but we are definitely not living in the country, so this was quite a surprise to me.   After hours on the phone with many different providers I have come to accept I am now going to be a regular at Starbucks to use the Wi-Fi.  I always have a long list of other things to get done while I use the Internet that blogging has taken a back seat.  I finally got smart and realized I can type my blog in Word (duh!) and then just take a few minutes to post it while I have Internet access so hopefully I will be better from now on.   

My friend Kelly Jo over at The Dr. and the Mrs. gave me an awesome tutorial of ways to improve my blog before I moved from Wichita and I haven’t been able to do any of it!  I am hoping Internet access becomes available in the next few months so I can get to work on making those changes. 

My post today is a quick tip that makes a huge difference in salad preparation. I mentioned in my last post before I left Wichita I attended a great cooking class.  One of the things I picked up on was a new way to dry my lettuce.  Andrea used a dish drying mat to dry her kale.  GENIUS!  Why didn’t I ever think of that?  I sometimes do buy bagged lettuce, but whenever I can I buy it fresh and wash and prepare it myself.  However, the amount of paper towels I use to dry it thoroughly was always frustrating, not to mention it always got the counter all wet as well.  Andrea to the rescue!  A $5 drying mat from Bed, Bath, and Beyond is the perfect solution.  It is machine washable so you can toss it in the wash after a couple uses and it’s ready to go again.  Best $5 I’ve spent lately. (Actually, best $4 I've spent.  Gotta love those 20% off coupons.)
Just rinse your lettuce, kale, etc. and toss it on the drying mat, and fold over the sides a few times to squeeze off the excess water.  Did I mention, genius?!
Since we are talking about kale and salads, I woke up yesterday and my twitter feed was bombarded with Bethenny Frankel tweets about kale.  Apparently, she just learned about massaging kale as I did a few months ago.  Enjoy her tweets…