Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Mod Market and 0 Days to Healthy Food

Phew. You ever really want to cook something, either because you're really, really hungry and there's nothing but ingredients, or you're kind of feeling a little bit creative but you don't want to fully commit, so instead of just diving in you take time to evaluate the pros and cons of the situation:

Pros: Food
Cons: Making the Food

...Yeah, me too.
   Enter Mod Market. Most of the time when I'm going to be out for the better part of the day I will pack food, usually just carrots, almonds, and grapes, and a drink because I don't want to be tempted to stop somewhere and get something I really shouldn't have, like, ever. Not so yesterday, either I was just too lazy or *perhaps* I secretly wanted to splurge on something good having just gone through a rather unintentional but very epic colon cleanse and also after resolving not to eat any junk food while on my period over the weekend. (Um, TMI??? Whatever.) While out shopping yesterday I discovered Mod Market, a "Farm Fresh Eatery"- and it lives up to its name. I walked in, not knowing what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised by the diner-like atmosphere with both modern and retro touches, and the fact that the place was full of seemingly normal people in T-shirts and jeans having a good time. Okay, I thought, this is looking good, how about the menu...
   One look at the menu and I knew I was in the right spot.
   The menu, posted on the wall, is divided into categories such as salads, sandwiches, pizzas, soups, and drinks. It is designed to suit any of the members of the gluten-, dairy-, sugar-, egg-, and meat-free crowds, there was seriously something for everybody. (The one thing that I really wasn't sure about was soy, if they use it or if they are some of the few who got wise and abandoned it in favor of something that won't give your future kids 3 eyes. I didn't look too hard but it would be something to ask next time.) And the prices are pretty reasonable, too. The menu changes seasonally and most of the food is locally sourced. I decided on a half of a "super food salad," comprised of spinach, kale, quinoa, shredded carrots, strawberries, and feta cheese and dressed with some sort of lemony dressing. Oh my goodness. It was good. And despite its only being a "half," I found it was more than enough to fill me up. And since there's nothing like competition to get you motivated, I decided to recreate it.
   There are a couple different ways to prepare the quinoa: if you're short on time or you just don't want to have the time to reconsider your decision to cook, you can simply rinse the quinoa, cook it, and then fluff it with a fork. If you aren't pressed for time or would prefer to make this salad completely raw, there are ways to soak it instead of cooking it. Or you can do what I did- toast the quinoa and then soak it. Or toast it then cook it. The toasting simply brings out more flavor. Whatever you choose. And now that we're getting into fall, it might be a good idea to add pomegranate seeds or even swap them out for the strawberries. You can add nuts or seeds to this too, for an extra protein boost.

Super Food Salad from Mod Market (gf, sf, vegetarian)
For 2

4 tbsp prepared red or white quinoa (red quinoa has a stronger, nuttier flavor)
4 cups tightly packed baby spinach, washed and dried
2 cups baby kale leaves, washed, dried, and gently torn
1/2 c sliced strawberries
2 small carrots, scrubbed, peeled, and julienned (if they're organic, you don't have to peel them unless you want to)
2 oz crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 c pomegranate seeds (optional)
1/2 c coarsely chopped nuts or seeds, optional

1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp white wine or white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Toss together the spinach and the kale, add the carrots, strawberries, and quinoa. Divide between two plates, top with the Feta cheese, nuts or seeds if using, and the dressing, serve chilled.

Healthy food, as the sign out front of the restaurant says, is now 0 days away. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Green Salad with Del Frisco-Style Avocado Dressing

Del Frisco's is a steakhouse in Dallas, fairly well-known throughout North Texas. (And I'm pretty sure they opened another location in Ft Worth, the menu is a little different but just as good, or so I'm told.) The dressing here is really what makes the salad- it's a knockoff of their famous Avocado Ranch Dressing, made in house. You can add whatever you like to the lettuce, but I find that keeping the ingredients simple and to a minimum works best. This is great served with steak.

A giant bowl full of lettuce- Bibb, Romaine, Arugula, etc- washed, dried, and gently torn
16 strips thick-cut bacon, cooked until crisp on the edges and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 C loosely packed Cilantro leaves
Sourdough Croutons (optional)

1 large ripe avocado
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c half-and-half
1 tbsp grated onion
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

To prepare the dressing, place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours. Meanwhile, toss together all salad ingredients and chill.
   To prepare the salad, place chilled salad ingredients into chilled bowls, add 2-3 tbsp dressing and serve immediately.