I don’t know about you, but it seems that the case of the winter break blues hit hard this January. Maybe it’s the cold & rainy weather or the fact that the holidays fell on a Friday, giving everyone long weekends and others, like yours truly, a full 2 1/2 weeks off. But enough complaining. I’m bringing you some positive vibes this week with a bright and sunny winter salad that will keep you on your New Year’s Resolution track and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Plus, I’m here to offer up some tips on staying healthy in the workplace, which I know from first-hand experience can be the downfall of our healthy eating ideals. Coming from the girl who used to forego her lunch on the cookie exchange day to fill up on a plate of cookies instead, I feel like I have a little understanding of how easy it is to cave in to the goodies in the faculty lounge. But 8 years later and 30 lbs. lighter, I also feel like I have come up with some pretty awesome tips on how to avoid the black (donut) hole of office treats.
Tip #1-Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! I cannot stress this enough. Get your lunch act together. When you get home from the supermarket or wherever you do your shopping, chop up your veggies, cook up your beans, boil your eggs, or cook up your meats for your lunches. Set them in containers that are easy to see and you’ll be more likely to grab them in a hurry than if they were at the bottom of the crisper. Expert tip adopted from my brother: He separates his lunches for the week into 5 different easy grab-and-go containers, so there is no work needed during the week to prep your meals.
Tip #2-Be real with yourself. Are you gonna get home from the store and sit on the couch after a long, exhausting day at work? If that’s the case, get foods that are already chopped. Trader Joe’s is excellent at doing the work for you. Just be aware that certain veggies, like pre-cut butternut squash, should be used up early in the week as it can turn faster than buying the whole squash.
Tip #3-Always carry healthy snacks. Yes, this loops back to being prepared from tip #1, but I’m going to go into a bit more detail here. You know how you boiled a dozen eggs or chopped up all of your veggies to be easily added to salads, soups, & sautés? Now put those to use as an easy grab-and-go snack.
Tip #4-Ask yourself “Is it worth it?” The first day back at work this week I went to make copies in the faculty lounge and there was a giant, beautiful coffee cake on the table. I took one look at it and thought, “hmmmmmmm thanks, but no thanks,” made my copies and headed straight out the door. Ask yourself how you’ll feel after you’ve eaten the treat. Do you really want it or are you just eating it because it’s there? If it’s the latter, leave it and save your treat for something that you’re truly craving.
Tip #5-Be kind. Be kind to yourself. So, you ate a donut that was leering at you from the conference table. It happens. Just try and stick just one and remember that you have a whole fridge and pantry stockade at home waiting for you to continue on your way to a clean 2016.
Warm chickpea & satsuma orange salad
4 c. spinach, washed (arugula or mixed greens work, also)
2 satsuma oranges, peeled and divided
1/2 c. snap peas or snow peas, halved
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. slivered almonds
2 tbsp. hemp seeds
1/2 c. cooked or canned chickpeas
1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. chile powder
S & P to taste
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar (or white wine)
1/2 shallot, chopped finely
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed satsuma orange juice
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. satsuma orange zest
1 tsp. chopped thyme
S & P to taste
Add ingredients from spinach to hemp seeds to a bowl. Head sesame oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and add chickpeas with spices and warm, for about 4-5 minutes. Add to the bowl.
Add all dressing ingredients together to a jar or bottle and shake. Pour over salad & serve. Tip: If you do not want bits of shallot in your salad, use a spoon to keep them in the jar or bottle while you pour out the dressing. You’ll still get the flavor, but won’t have to worry about popping a piece of gum afterwards.