Now that Thanksgiving has passed (often a four day feast for many of us), it’s time to look forward… or in my case, behind, because my behind is growing on me at an ever alarming rate. I have the best of intentions when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, however it often seems rather futile when, like now, I have a heavy workload and I’ve also begun a series of new design courses. Exciting times for sure, but what happens is I literally stop taking care of my physical self, which leads me to eat whatever is easy. Note that easy often means processed foods that I can snack on in large mindless quantities while I sit at my desk.
The long walks and hikes I once took have been replaced with quick trots halfway around the park so the Poodle can do his business. Dinner most nights turns into “fend for yourself” events if my husband doesn’t cook for us (I’m usually still at my desk until at least 7 or 8pm). My most notable concoction recently was a colorless plate full of large croutons (the coated in olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic and baked to a crispy crunch kind), a healthy chunk of white cheese (not healthy as in “healthy” terms, but healthy as in it was an extremely large piece of cheese terms), and a glass of embarrassingly cheap Pinot Grigio.
So, this morning I forced myself to step on to the scales and received the shock of my life. It was really bad news. The “I hate myself for doing this to me” kind of news. As I stepped off I decided right then and there that I had to make some changes. Let me just put it out there, however — Culinary Eden is not going to be a diet focused blog or a what I ate today food journal (I reserve Facebook for that, lol). Besides, I did post my Incredible Dark Chocolate Brownie Triple Nut Pie recipe last week and have another decadent treat in store for you in the weeks ahead. I love all foods (just don’t feed me escargot or haggis), and I know I can have a life where both healthy and decadent foods coexist. I just have to remember to bring back a sensible balance to my plate, to move my 5’6″ frame more often, and to not eat as much as my 6’4″ husband.
With this new mindset, I’m going to get a jump start on the New Year and bravely face the parties and holiday celebrations that lie in wait for me. I’m going to look forward…
PERSIMMON FENNEL SALAD
Today’s feature is a wonderfully healthy and easy to prepare treat I developed last December when I was on a major fruit in my salad kick. Fuju persimmons are just coming into season here in Northern California and should last us through the month of December and into early January. If you’ve never put fruit in your salads, you are in for a real treat.
Fuju persimmons are oblate shaped (like a tomato), light orange in color, and are firm when ripe, which makes them perfect for this salad. Hachiya persimmons, which you shouldn’t use here, are also commonly seen at the same time of year as Fujus. Hachiyas are oblong with deep orange flesh, and are tart and oddly textured until they are fully ripe, at which time they are too soft to use in this salad. Whatever persimmon varieties you are able to find in your area, just make sure that are both ripe and non-astringent when firm.
Note: This salad is very easy to make in smaller portions than what is shown below, even if with bagged lettuce. Just use your judgement adding the ingredients, and look to the photo I’ve provided as a guide.
- 1 head of Green Leaf Lettuce, washed and torn into mouth-sized pieces
- 1 cup of Spinach, washed with stems removed
- 2-4 tablespoons of a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to taste)
- 2 Fuju Persimmons, cut into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 small bulb of Fennel, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup blanched, slivered Almonds
- 1/3 cup coarsely grated Toma or Gruyere cheese
- Coarse Sea Salt to taste
- Cracked Black Pepper to taste
- Toss together your greens in a large salad bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, then lightly toss again.
- Taste a leaf to see if this amount of olive oil is to your liking. If not, add more, but don’t drown your greens. You want them to be lightly coated but have a nice grassy, peppery flavor to them.
- Lightly toss in the persimmons and fennel.
- Top the salad with the almonds and cheese, add more salt and cracked pepper, if you like.
- Lightly toss again at the table, then serve immediately.