I had family in town Friday through Sunday, so while I didn't find much time to blog about my salad concoctions, I still found time to eat my greens and successfully complete 7 full days of the Salad-a-Day Challenge. Truth be told, this was not much of a "challenge" for me. I love to eat leafy greens in all shapes and forms - cooked, raw, chopped, blended (yes, blended - Green Smoothies!) - so I typically consume at least one big salad every day.
It's pretty easy to stick with salads and healthy eating when you have people staying with you, since you're surrounded by all your own food. For me, one of the coolest things about having visitors is that your healthy eating habits can rub off on your guests. (Ever heard a 9 year old ask for more kale? Yup, it happened this weekend.)
Healthy eating is a completely different story when you’re attending a party or visiting someone else, however.
I’m an old pro at these sorts of situations – I’ve been a vegetarian for close to two decades now and gluten-free for over 4 years – and I know what it’s like to be the food freak at party. “You don’t eat any meat or chicken or eggs or wheat? What do you eat then?!” So I’ve mastered the art of BYOF – bringing your own food. That way I always know there will be something I can eat and - bonus! - SHARE.
Here are ways to successfully share your food so your healthy eating can rub off on other people.
1. Make it yummy.
Stick to tried & true recipes that you know you do well. Now is not the time to experiment – if the food’s a flop, “healthy food” will be blamed.
2. Make it appealing.
If you want people to try your food, it has to look good. Avocado pudding may taste amazing, but it looks gross. No one’s going to choose that when there's chocolate cake next to it, I guarantee it.
3. Don’t push it on people.
My favorite is the trickle-down effect: one brave soul attempts the new, foreign dish and then starts chattering on about how good it is. “I didn’t even know I liked kale/chickpeas/quinoa/fill in the blank!” Next thing you know, one by one, everyone has succumbed to the healthy food option.
4. Bring extra. See #3.
5. Don’t broadcast the health benefits of your food.
There’s no need to announce “This mac'n'cheese is vegan AND gluten-free!” unless you’re speaking to a vegetarian with Celiac Disease. Unless someone specifically asks you, chances are they don’t really care. What people care about is food tasting good. You don’t have to portray it as specialty fare, just give people good food.
The next time you attend a party or function, fix up a healthy dish so you can BYOF. This recipe is perfect for sharing!
Simple Chickpea Salad
1.5 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) OR 2 large cans
2 green peppers, seeded and chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped fine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T cumin powder
1 T dried rosemary
1 cup dried cranberries
sea salt & pepper
If using dried beans, soak overnight and then boil for 1 hour or until fork-tender. Cool before making salad. If using canned beans, drain and rinse beans. Be sure to buy beans in a BPA-free can!
Place cooked, cooled beans in a large bowl. Add chopped peppers and celery.
In a separate bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, cumin & rosemary. Slowly add to ingredients in large bowl, tossing and tasting as you go. You may find you do not need all of the dressing.
Add dried cranberries and salt & pepper to taste.
Share & enjoy!