Posts tagged ‘salad’

October 11th, 2011

Reasons to eat salad (not a lecture to eat healthy)

Eating salad isn’t always about health.  Actually, to be honest, sometimes it’s about the complete opposite of health.  No, I’m not talking about one of those ‘salads‘ loaded with cheese and bacon masquerading as health food…After a nice lunch at our new favorite cafe, Natas Pastries, we brought home this delectable dessert.  It has a really nice flaky shortbread-like crust with a tasty custard AND whipped cream inside.  You’d think from looking at it, that it would be on the sweet side, but it wasn’t overly sugared at all and its big plus: it tasted fresh!  Have you ever noticed that some pastry shops have great looking stuff, but after one bite, all you taste is the refrigerator that it was stored in?  That’s one of my biggest pet peeves, and sadly, there’s almost no way to predict its occurrence when trying a new place.  When my husband first surprised me with something sweet from Nata’s, I was worried about the potential for ‘fridge contamination’.  After my first bite, I didn’t care that I was wrong…all I could concentrate on was, ‘mmmmmmm’.  Somehow, the pastries at Natas’ always taste as if they were just made an hour ago.  It’s some sort of restaurant ‘magic’ that they can consistently produce that fresh taste, considering that Nata’s is a small cafe with a large pastry case!  Could you pass a place like that without picking up a couple of treats?  If you can, you’re better than I am!

When you know you’re going to eat sweets, you have to plan ahead.  So, I ordered Delicias do Mar, a seafood salad for lunch.  I consider this ‘spending calories consciously’.  Save a few by eating a salad, and then you can splurge those savings on dessert! The Delicias do Mar salad comes with big shrimp and includes crab salad.  Unfortunately, the “Crab” in “Crab salad” should have been spelled “Krab”, but the big shrimp and fresh and crispy romaine lettuce made up for it.

My second reason for ordering a salad?  If I save my calories, I can also splurge on sampling my husband’s typically heartier selection.  I’m not alone on this, as I know women around the world fool themselves into thinking they’re eating healthy by ordering salad and then stealing half their dinner companion’s fries.  Men probably fear hearing “Can I have a fry?” as much as they dread a conversation that begins with, “We need to talk.” On this day, my husband too, lost his manly battle as the French panini with brie and caramelized onions just looked too good to resist.  My husband actually lost two battles that day, as my ‘taste’ of his sandwich, that I’m now obsessed with, turned out to be half of his portion, AND, his chance to have the favor returned by sharing my dish was canceled out by the fact that he hates seafood.  Sounds like I planned it out in advance, doesn’t it?  Shhhh…maybe he won’t figure it out!


July 21st, 2011

What makes “Asian” dish Asian?

Happy National Junk Food Day!  To celebrate this joyous occasion, let’s talk about McDonald’s.  The other day, on the way back from the gym, my husband lifted up his tired arm and pointed at a huge billboard ahead of us for McDonald’s new Asian salad.  His question, “What do you have to put in there before you can call it Asian?”My husband always jokes that he doesn’t like ‘Asian seasonings’.  He’s usually laughing when he says it, but we both know he’s serious.  He says there’s something in there that he can’t quite identify, but can always taste.  There are a few ingredients that I know for sure that he won’t like it.  The prime suspect is Japanese dashi, fish stock.  Add soy sauce, salt, and sugar to the fish stock, and it’ll make a great soup for udon and soba.  It’s also the base for miso soup.  I guess growing up with it, I never thought miso soup smelled, but apparently, according to my selective husband, it does.  Luckily, these dashi based dishes are mostly Japanese, and not that conventionally ‘Asian’, so it’s unlikely that the McDonald’s “Asian Salad” will contain dashi.  Of course we’d still have to buy the salad to find out, but before that, our fun guessing game began.

My husband guessed the Asian salad would contain edamame, a food he first tried at my grandmother’s house in Japan.  (Looking back, maybe we should have told him that you’re only supposed to eat the inside?)  When it was my turn to guess what McDonald’s thinks is ‘Asian’,  I chose canned Mandarin orange.  Why?  Just think back to every Chinese chicken salad you’ve ever eaten.  Aren’t Mandarin oranges always in there?

Were we right?  Well, I went to McDonald’s and placed my order.   I was impressed with the wide variety of Asian culture on display as the cashier presented me with two options: “grilled” or “crispy” chicken.  ‘Crispy’ being the code word for fried.

Being a fan of Asian culture, I ordered both.  Just like they served in ancient Tokyo, my salad came with a packet of Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame dressing.  To add even more Asian-ness to the mix, a packet of sliced almonds was included.  The salad was much better than I expected, but basically it’s just orange or sesame chicken on a bed of green salad.

But to answer the big question: were our guesses right?  Yes! There were both edamame and mandarin orange slices in it.  Add ginger dressing and you may have that ‘Asian seasoning’ my husband is always complaining about.  I suspect these two items plus ginger dressing are the answer to my husband’s question.

With the mystery solved, only one question remains: would I order this again?  Actually…yes.  It was a pretty good deal for 270 calories. Tasty and filling (Crispy: 420 cal).  I guess my husband will just have to stick with his Happy Meal!

July 4th, 2011

Jeremy salad

While some people want a piece of tart, I actually made a ‘peace’ tart for the 4th of July.  Just wanted to show off share.

We have a very smart 11 year old nephew, Jeremy.  He already has a stock market account, teaches me about gadgets, and negotiates prices with ‘replica’ vendors in China. Yet with all that sophistication, he still enjoys laughing at bodily sound-effects played from an app on his iPad.  As far as kids go, he’s actually very cool to hang out with.  One night, we were enjoying dinner at his house, and while I don’t remember the main course (sorry, sister-in-law, I’m sure it was something delicious), I never forgot the salad Jeremy made as a side.  It was like an Israeli salad, chopped cucumber, tomato, carrot and radish with squeezed lemon and salt & pepper.  Very refreshing and delicious.  My husband still requests it under its new name, “The Jeremy Salad” from time to time.

You can probably guess that my husband is not just picky when it comes to Asian food.  So if I find a dish he likes, I want to include that in our rotation– And it’s not that simple.  It’s actually a bit tricky.  Let me explain.  Even if he likes one dish one time, it doesn’t guarantee he likes the exact same dish a second time.  Need an example?  Cold ramen (Hiyashi Chuka).  I took a risk making it because I knew he was not familiar with cold noodles, and doesn’t care for them much.  But on a hot 100 degree L.A. summer day, all I craved was cold noodles, as we, Japanese, live on cold noodles (soba, ramen, udon, anything) during the hot months.   Success; he liked it!  Before I could congratulate myself for bridging the gap of pickiness, I made it for a second time and the result– he doesn’t want it.  Annoying, I know!  It’s like dealing with a child with no reason.  You see, my husband eats with his brain.  He over analyzes food before, during and after he eats.  Instead of just accepting a new flavor or texture, his brain goes to work, trying to compute answers to questions like: what is this I’m looking at, what am I chewing, what is this strange flavor/texture in my mouth?  The second time he ate the cold ramen, instead of remembering that he liked it, he defaulted to his “I don’t like cold noodles” rule.  Annoying, right?  Especially when I spend time and effort preparing something that he later, refuses to eat– but there is a fun, entertaining quality to watching him eating completely foreign food and trying to figure out what it is.  I guess they call that ‘love’.  Awwww.

The now famous, “Jeremy Salad,” is in our rotation.  The ingredients change depending on what we have in the fridge, but as long as we have cucumbers and tomato, it earns its name. Here’s one version with tzatziki dressing.

2 servings

  • chopped vegetable(1 cucumber, 1 tomato,1 stalk of celery for today)
  • your favorite plain yogurt   2tbs
  • garlic paste (I love this)   1tbs
  • dill (fresh or dry)
  • lemon juice   1 tbs
  • salt to taste


  1. Mix yogurt and garlic paste, add lemon and dill
  2. add all vegetable but tomato and mix, very little salt to taste
  3. add tomato, mix, and chill in the fridge until serve
  4. great with grilled chicken on a hot day!