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Resolutions & My New Favourite Salad

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The New Year has come and gone.

I’ve never been one for making resolutions. I know, deep down, I’ll give them a good shot for a few days and then slowly descend into the downward spiral of apathy. Before too long, my running shoes are gathering cobwebs and the tofu in the fridge starts growing it’s own small country (complete with citizens). I’m a realist. I know my strong points and my super-duper weak points.

But this year has been slightly different. This year, I have a baby. I still have baby fat. I don’t have any nice clothes, and don’t want to buy or even try on nice clothes because I don’t feel like myself anymore. When I moved to Ireland last Spring I was five months pregnant. All of the clothes that didn’t fit me were given to good will or to friends and what came with me filled one medium sized suitcase – a few of my favourite wardrobe pieces I couldn’t bear to part with. I foolishly thought I’d be back to my regular size a few months after the baby was born, but it’s been a long, hard road.

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I don’t want to diet. I’m breastfeeding and I’m against dieting anyway. Fad diets always end in failure.

I don’t like eating a lot of processed foods, so that hasn’t been the problem. The problem with my food intake is the fact that I use so much butter, cream, salt and sugar in my cooking. It’s what we do in the restaurant kitchens and it’s how I was taught to cook. I thought those ingredients were what made food taste good, but I was wrong.

Food makes food taste good. And salt, I still believe in that one. And lets face it, even though I know it’s bad, cream and butter do make everything taste amazing.

And we’re entering the downward spiral. But I digress.

The whole Paleo thing may be a fad right now, but after some research I think this is a fad worth checking out. Why? Because we’ve only been ingesting cultivated crops for a small portion of our existence as humans. Before that, did we die because we didn’t have any grains? No. We foraged, we ate lots of veggies and we hunted for our meat. That’s the food our bodies were designed to ingest.

I love bread. And rice. And quinoa and couscous. But lately I haven’t been feeling great and I’ve definitely not been eating well, so I’m going to give this Paleo thing a try for the month of January. After all, it’s more of a lifestyle change than a diet. And my lifestyle has already changed so much in the past year.

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So here’s my Paleo inspired month-long diet:

  • No grains or legumes. That means rice, quinoa, beans, lentils, peanuts or anything else that falls into the category (I cheat a little and still eat oatmeal for breakfast for breastfeeding purposes).
  • Less dairy. Most paleo folk have shunned dairy altogether, but I don’t want to give my dairy farmer father-in-law a heart attack. I am doing away with cheese, cream, sour cream, buttermilk – basically everything other than regular drinking milk and Greek yogurt.
  • No potatoes (I know).
  • Larger servings of vegetables and more protein. More nuts. More raw veggies. More eggs. Good quality, unprocessed meat.
  • No sugar (I know). Honey is OK.
  • No alcohol (I already cheated and had a glass of red wine last night; this part’s gonna fail).

We’re having one cheat day a week so we don’t go insane. Let’s see how this goes.

Our meals have been really good so far, though! I made Mexican-spiced beef lettuce wraps with guacamole, braised chicken legs with sweet potato and roasted peppers & tomatoes and, last night, took a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem: Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini & Sumac. Delicious and filling.

I had some leftover lamb mix from the braised eggs, so for lunch today I made a Middle Eastern salad with lettuce, cucumber, Happy Pear alfalfa sprouts, the lamb, two poached eggs and the tahini sauce (thinned out to make more of a salad dressing). Here’s the recipe:

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Jerusalem’s Leftovers Salad

Ingredients:

Lamb leftovers from Ottelenghi’s Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini and Sumac (page 205)

Tahini dressing leftovers from the same recipe

1/4 English cucumber, sliced into half moons

1/4 red onion, finely sliced

1/2 head lettuce (any kind will do), shredded

1/2 package rinsed alfalfa sprouts

4 eggs

Sumac, for garnish

Directions:

  • Gently heat the leftover lamb in a pot or in the microwave. Set aside.
  • Put a pot of water on to simmer with 1 Tbsp vinegar.
  • Slice/wash/dry veggies and mix in a bowl.
  • Thin out tahini sauce with a bit of water and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  • Poach the eggs in the (barely) simmering water for 3 minutes.
  • Take out two plates and divide the veggies evenly between them. Spread them out around the plate.
  • Top with the warmed lamb and poached eggs.
  • Drizzle the tahini dressing over the top and sprinkle some sumac for garnish.
  • Eat while the meat and eggs are warm.
  • *I was going to add pomegranate seeds to this salad and forgot. They would have been a really good addition, I think. Baby brain.

If you’re also interested in this lifestyle change, I love reading The Domestic Man. He creates such gorgeous food and his whole family eats a paleo-inspired diet.

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