fat free opinions on a food centric life

Cauliflower and Apple Salad with Radicchio

It’s official.  My husband and I are two months into our decision to change the way we eat and guess what?  It works!  Works, as in, we feel pretty darn good and have lost weight.  His loss of 18 lbs. has been steady and sure with minor plateaus here and there, and true to my personality, my loss has been a series of ups and downs — most recently dipping to 14.5 lbs. then back up to my goal of 12 lbs. total for the two months.  Six pounds a month.  That’s all I need.  Only six.  I can do that for the next six months, right?

Whew.

When I catch myself analyzing it all too much, he patiently reminds me we said we weren’t going to turn any of this into a crazy hair-splitting quest to starve ourselves to thinness in as little time as possible, or to beat ourselves up over numbers on a scale.  And no, we weren’t going to count every single calorie we ingest.  Instead, it is more to consider that we do have to exercise more consistently and appropriately, and also monitor the types and quantities of food we eat throughout each day to balance everything out.  I guess I just need to do all of that while waving my arms about in the air.  But, we can already see changes in one another, and that’s fun.  Did I say fun?  All right, then.  Motivating.

Although there isn’t a book, or a plan we’re using, we do read lots of information based on nutrition and exercise in general and keep one fairly straightforward guideline in our heads:  calories in, calories out.   We eat lots of produce — especially the green stuff, try to eat small amounts of protein throughout the day from a variety of sources  (think nuts, hummus, peanut butter, yogurt, lean turkey or ham, cheese, quinoa, eggs), and smaller amounts of whole grains.  Dinner is often only a protein and a salad or vegetable, or soup.  Three meals a day with a morning and afternoon snack are what we shoot for, but he’s better at pulling that off than I am.

When it comes to exercising, again, he is far more steady than I am, often going to the gym after 7 pm when he gets home.  Me?  I don’t like being in a gym, so opt for walking out and around our area mapping different routes.  Most of them are doozies ranging from 3.5 to 6 miles I try to complete at least four times a week, but it’s a challenge.  Last week, I logged over 18 miles and this week I barely made 10 –most of it yesterday.  Today, my knees are screaming in agony. This is not a small thing considering I need pretty close to an hour of cardio every day.  I’m working on loving the idea of that.  I really am.  My knees?  Not so much.

Are we doing without?  Yes, and no.  We’ve had dessert — but rarely and in very small quantities.  He’s confessed to hitting In-n-Out for a burger and fries before a basketball game, and I have wine after I say I’m not going to, but it doesn’t get much more dramatic than that.  I can do without pastry, we’re not candy eaters, and I haven’t missed butter on toast.  It may seem small, but I’ve given up powdered coffee creamer for 1% milk because coffee creamer is full of  bad things I shouldn’t have been putting in my coffee to begin with.  I think what we’re “doing without” most often is eating without thinking about it.

If there’s one thing we can’t do without, it’s salad.  In much the way that soup can pack lots of good flavors into one bowl, the possibilities are limitless if you consider that a salad doesn’t have to be the stereotypical lettuce, tomato, and a sprinkle of onion.  Nor does it have to be something enjoyed only for lunch or at dinner.  I’ve always enjoyed playing with different ingredients, but what has really helped over the years is to know what ingredients work best with one another.  Most often, the logic behind this is seasonal.

I’ve heard that winter hasn’t been nearly as harsh for most as it was last year, but I know that doesn’t always mean the leafy, fresh vegetables of spring and summer are available.  If that’s the case, then this salad is perfect.  The combination is unusual, but the flavors work extremely well with one another and it is definitely a complete meal.

Cauliflower and Apple Salad with Radicchio

Salad Ingredients

1/4 head of a 1 lb. raw cauliflower, sliced thin

1/4 head radicchio, shaved

2 stalks celery, sliced thin

1/2 apple, cut into matchsticks

1/4 c. pecans, coarsely chopped

2 T red onion, minced

Dressing Ingredients

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. honey

1/4 c. walnut oil

salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Make the dressing first by mixing the Dijon with the honey, then drizzling the walnut oil into the mixture while whisking until completely blended.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  3. To prepare the cauliflower, separate into florets and then either run through the slicer on a food processor, slice with a mandoline, or slice with a knife as thin as possible.
  4. Prepare the radicchio in the same fashion and add both to a large bowl.
  5. To prepare the apples, leave the peelings on, core it, and cut into thin slices.  Stack them and cut through the stack to make the matchsticks.
  6. Mix all the salad ingredients in the large bowl and drizzle over the dressing.  You’ll have leftover dressing.
  7. Toss and serve.

Notes:

  • This is an extremely satisfying and very crunchy salad!  It’s perfect for lunch and would also be great for a barbeque or pot luck.  There will be no wilting of anything in this salad.
  • If you’ve never thought of eating raw cauliflower, do. It’s got a slightly sweet taste to it — quite pleasant, actually.
  • As much as a food processor can be a time saver, the slices mine makes are good sized, so a mandoline would make a prettier salad if that matters to you.  Otherwise, if you have the time, making nice slices with a knife works great.
  • There are quite a few versions of this salad around which actually surprised me.  Cauliflower and apples aren’t something I’ve considered in a salad before, but mine is adapted from a variety — especially this one which I thought needed some help.
  • On the radicchio:  I constantly strive to get color into our diet with brightly colored veggies and fruit, so often use radicchio in salads for interest and taste.  It’s on the bitter side so a little can go a long way for some, but I truly enjoy it.  Although it resembles a small purple cabbage, its texture is more fine with the leaves being far more tender than cabbage — and that’s just the beginning.  For a great comparison of the two, read Food Blogga’s
    “What’s the Difference between Red Cabbage and Radicchio?” written as only Susan can.
  • Maple syrup instead of honey would be good in the dressing.  And if you don’t have the walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil is fine, but walnut oil — even a smaller quantity really makes this salad delicious.
  • The original recipe calls for pears and walnuts — also a lovely combo, but just as classic as apples and pecans, right?  The goal is to get a bit of sweet and crunch from fruit, and the savory crunch from the nuts.
  • A sprinkle of some nice blue cheese would be the perfect touch to this as well.
  • If you want a bit more sweetness, add some dried cranberries.
  • If you’re more in the mood for leafy greens, then just add them, but I’d choose something that contrasts with these flavors and textures — something like mache or any tender young mesclun blend.

More cauliflower salads from around the web:

The Healthy Foodie“Cauliflower, Apple and Cashew Salad”

Love Your Greens“Cauliflower Waldorf Salad”

Smitten Kitchen“Cauliflower Salad with Green Olives and Capers”

Food Porn Daily“Roasted Cauliflower and Edamame Salad”

Steamy Kitchen — “Cauliflower and Kale Salad”