Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Arugula & Egg Salad Crostini & How To Get Excited About Choosing "Yes" Foods

You know how every few months I go on a "health-kick" and write about 3-5 posts on my new healthy lifestyle, just to post about how I gorged on pie right after? Yeah, I'm right in the middle of one of those. 

While this may seem to be just another repeat of the same somewhat toxic pattern of healthy vs. unhealthy eating that I've gone through more times than I can count, what sets this time apart is my expectations of myself and my perspective. Previously whenever I would begin a new health kick, I would start by cutting out the bad foods, the foods that were absolute no-no's for my new diet. That, my friends, would be mistake number one. Instead of taking the time to focus on the "no" foods, I should have changed my perspective to get excited about all of the vibrant and flavourful "yes" foods that I was opening up my palate to! How could I ever expect to keep up a healthy diet with such a negative perspective? The trick I've found is to find new ways to get excited about all of those yes foods! 

So how does one get excited about clean eating? I mean, kale and lentils aren't exactly the most thrilling ingredients on paper, so what can we do to encourage ourselves to reach for ingredients that aren't hanging out at the "cool table" as opposed to the easy, ready-to-eat, big flavour bombs that can satisfy in seconds? I believe that for many people, myself included, the key to getting excited about healthy eating is all about convenience and building flavour. 

The only way that I can keep up a healthy diet is by having healthy, flavour-building ingredients right at my fingertips every single day. Sure, that maybe means taking an extra trip to the grocery store each week to stock up on fresh items like leafy greens, fruit, vegetables, and protein, but there are also so many other ingredients that you can keep  for months in your pantry or your freezer that can help to layer flavour for healthy meals and snacks. Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, oils, dried herbs,  spices, mustards, and more are all fantastic ingredients for adding a big punch of flavour and texture to a dish in mere seconds! 

I like to take the time at the start of each week to toast up a batch of mixed nuts and coconut to store in airtight containers to have on hand all week to dress up salads, yogurt and chia seeds bowls, soups, stir-fry's and more! Think about it, are you really going to choose a plain mixed green salad that will still take at least seven-minutes to prepare over a juicy and hot burger that you can pay $1.99 for and have ready in less than 2-minutes? If you have those healthy and flavourful ingredients prepped and on hand that can turn that bland mixed green salad into something spectacular, you just might! My go-to quickie salad has become greens tossed in a homemade dressing (prepped in advance) with toasted mixed nuts, dried cranberries and figs, homemade croutons (prepped in advance) and some sort of fruit (apples, mandarin oranges, and berries are all great options!).

This weekend when a late afternoon hunger storm hit my belly, I was tempted to rush out and grab my favourite $2.99 bacon and cheddar perogies with sour cream at the local Hungarian takeout joint. Just as I was about to reach for my coat to give in to the temptation of sautĂ©ed bacon, potatoes, and onions, I remembered all that prep I had previously done in the week and realized that I already had a fantastic lunch in the works! With pre-boiled eggs in the fridge, as well as some arugula, and green onions, I could see how easily I could have a delicious lunch ready in less time than it would take me to go out and purchase pre-made perogies. No, an egg salad sandwich doesn't sound as appetizing as bacon and cheddar perogies slathered with sour cream, but an an egg salad crostini with Koslik's Triple Crunch Mustard, and green onions, topped lightly dressed arugula, extra virgin olive oil, fresh-cracked pepper, and Maldon salt sounds pretty freaking wonderful if you ask me! Again, it's all about building the flavour! 

I began with delicious Prince Edward County Rye bread and spread some rich grass-fed butter on top to prevent any sogginess from the egg salad. The egg salad was seasoned to perfection with more than just salt and pepper, but with Koslik's Triple Crunch Mustard, mayonnaise, and green onions. The arugula garnish was given the same amount of care as the rest of the dish, by being tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette (literally just lemon and olive oil with salt and pepper). The whole dish was finished off with a little bit more fresh cracked pepper, Maldon Salt (a crystallized finishing salt that provides both texture and a "clean" salt flavour), and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. As you can see, this dish is all about building flavour on flavour, and texture on texture, which makes the final result irresistible, satisfying, and positively delicious! Perogies who? Sorry, forgot all about those potatoes and bacon, this crostini is just too good! 

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