Chocolate Cake and One Big Salad


On Friday, I ran 11 miles, and on Monday, the eve of my 39th birthday, I ran 11.5.

Today I ate cake for breakfast. 

And lunch.

And hopefully, I’ll have some after dinner too. 

The cake is gluten-free, but it is one stick of butter and three eggs shy of Vegan. I just don’t see how anyone can get a gluten-free vegan birthday cake to taste good. But then again, I’m not a chef. I just have a cookbook fetish and a penchant for experimenting with ingredients.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman has a saying, which I forced the children to repeat in a propaganda poster on the fridge: “You can’t buy good health in a bottle; it must be earned.”

Sure, I had chocolate cake on my birthday, but I also had lean green as a late-morning snack. And though I nibbled bits of the cake when I got home this afternoon, I filled myself with a Big Salad, so I wouldn’t sliver the cake into nonexistence.

I do NOT want to be the Mama who doesn’t eat birthday cake–especially when tender young hands prepared it.

As the late afternoon sun hit our balcony head-on today, and the eggplants roasted in the oven for my birthday baba ganoush, I sat outside and knit some more on my scarf. It is nearly done, and I find it fitting that Libby, our youngest, will show me how to end my project tonight.

This is certainly a new stage of life for me.

It has been a great birthday, and as I stare at my calendar, packed with hopes and dreams and dates with people I love, I feel so incredibly blessed.

The future looks good from 39.

“Recipe” of the Week: Keri’s Big Salad

The salads I eat for lunch and dinner are so incredibly ginormous (as in, I can eat an entire head of lettuce by myself), that people stop and stare. Even my husband, who eats a ton of raw veggies before meals, took a photo of my salad one morning, to show the guys at work. So, I thought I would share what exactly I put into it.

Dr. Fuhrman has many sayings, one of which is: “Salad is the Main Dish” (also a propaganda poster on our fridge).

No matter what I make for dinner, whether it’s baba ganoush, vegan pizza, or lentils, we always have a huge salad first. Even the kids eat salad with dinner, though not in the SuperSized portions the adults have.

*This is just one example of REAL lettuce!

The Raw Materials

1-2 heads lettuce *Note: forget about skimpy iceberg–and DON’T EVEN buy the prepackaged junk, unless circumstances are dire. Get yourself something that looks like a farmer just plucked it from the ground. It MUST have dirt in it–and maybe even a few pebbles. I like to use one green type and one purplish type, of which I would know the names if I were an actual chef or even not so lazy.

1-2 red peppers

1/2 cucumber

1/2 avocado 

tomatoes–as many as you please

4 fresh black olives (I get mine at the Turkish market. Jarred Kalmata are yummy, but have high sodium–if that bothers you)

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

1/2 can garbanzos (I told you this was a huge salad)

1/2 red onion, finely sliced

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (shelled, of course)

1-2 tbsp GOOD balsalmic vinegar (I invest in the sweet Italian stuff)

1/4 cup sprouts (my favorite are Wasabi sprouts–for the peppery taste)

Any other fresh, raw veggies you love, remembering the more colors you have in the salad, the better. And yes, the avocados, black olives, pumpkin seeds and flax have fat–but they  are GOOD fats; plus, they have so many phytonutrients that they are vital to a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet. Just go easy on them if you’re trying to lose weight.

Rule #1: One serving of good fats a day will not kill you.

Rule #2: Eat as many raw veggies as you like! Stuff yourself! 

As Dr. Fuhrman says: the more nutrient-dense foods you eat, the more weight you will lose.

The Method

Chop your REAL lettuce, or rip it apart with your bare hands, and thoroughly wash it. Place lettuce in a salad spinner, being careful NOT to launch the top of the device across the room in a major lettuce explosion, which your little Vegan dog cleans up before you can stop him. (Yes, Pepin eats lettuce now).

Slice and chop the veggies to your delight. In my opinion, the thinner the onion slice, the better.

Toss the lettuce and veggies together in a big bowl, and drizzle basalmic over the top. Make a divot in the middle and pour in the garbanzos. Sprinkle flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and top with avocado and sprouts.

Or, just put it in your biggest plastic box, and hope the basalmic doesn’t leak all over the bottom of your cooler before you can eat it at your picnic. *Note: when toting the Big Salad to places outside the home, save the basalmic in a small, leakproof container and drizzle upon arrival. *Note: I DID indeed learn this the hard way after a basalmic-containment “incident.”

If after eating all of these veggies (Fuhrman recommends a minimum of one pound of veg a day) you are still hungry, eat the rest of your garbanzo beans, or grab some fruit. My favorite treat is an apple dipped in 1 tbsp natural nut butter. The key is to eat until you feel full.

Try eating a Big Salad before each meal (or before each slice of birthday cake) for superior health, shiny hair, weight loss, and/or to stop traffic.

Guten apetit!


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