So I had a first this week; I went to lunch with a nutritionist. Now, let me preface this story by stating that I have met with nutritionists before, I have interacted with them and frankly they scare the shit out of me. Since I have been dealing with a slew of health issues lately I have had one too many meetings about what I should and shouldn’t be eating. It’s exhausting. Most of the nutritionists I have met with are super rigid in what they eat, and they all have their own ideologies on what everyone should be eating. No dairy! No sugar! No red meat! Yes dairy! No corn! Yes grains! No grains! No carbs! Yes carbs! Yes meat! How the hell is someone suppose to keep up with all this!?!?! What ever happened to just eating whole foods, living a balanced lifestyle, while enjoying some vices once and while? Why are there so many rules?!?!?! Needless to say I am seriously OVER IT.
You can imagine my reaction when my friend asked me to meet with a friend of his who was a nutritionist- I was not thrilled. He said “you guys share like minded ideas about food” he also added that she was “super cool, funny” and we would get a long great, that it would be just good to meet and bounce ideas off of each other. Regardless of the set up of her super cool personality, bottom line is she was a nutritionist and therefore she scared me.
I was anticipating this lunch meeting to be full of judgement, full of watching every bite I took, counting how many times I chewed my food, how many sips of water I took and what not. Once there, I ordered the healthiest thing I could find on the menu which was a mixed vegetable salad thinking I would get a salad with grilled veggies on top of lettuce etc. I was already anticipating the generic taste of it and thinking about what I was going to eat after I left lunch. I knew FOR SURE I was still going to be hungry. When my salad came to the table I was totally surprised. On top of the bed of lettuce there was a pile of beautifully roasted vegetables. Zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, onions and baby tomatoes drizzled with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette, and sprinkled with some feta cheese. The flavor was like a deep roasted ratatouille, and I was into it. BIG TIME.
I was also into this nutritionist chick who was sitting across from me. She was funny, nice and had an outlook on food that mirrored mine. We talked for hours and all my fears of judgment went out the window. I realized that in our talking I had inhaled my food and was actually licking my plate…like a disgusting dog. Sometimes I forget where I am, and who I am talking to, and I realize more times than not I am embarrassing myself with my eating habits. So I diverted and started talking about the salad.
“This is the type of food I am talking about, big bold flavors, filling, yet healthy. I don’t feel deprived or like I am eating “diet food”. This is just delicious! This is it, this is exactly how I like to cook.” She totally agreed and a future beautiful collaboration of food and brains started to happen. FINALLY I felt understood. Her objectives in her practice is not to make people scared about food but rather celebrate and embrace the delicious and healthy food that is out there. Total match made in heaven.
I left lunch feeling full, inspired, and feeling grateful for a new friend. When I got home I sat down and started to write out a recipe for the delicious salad I had just eaten. Below is the recipe. I hope it inspires you to rethink your food, and what “healthy eating” really is. Healthy food can be packed with flavor, you can be full after eating it, and you really can lick your plate in public and still make friends.
Oven Roasted Vegetable Salad with Balsamic Dressing
- 2 zucchini
- 1 small eggplant
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 lb baby tomatoes
- 1 small red pepper, de-seeded and cut into strips
- 1 small yellow pepper, de-seeded and cut into strips
- 1 medium chopped onion,halved and sliced thin
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 handful fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- For Salad:
- 8-10 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- [steps] Prepare the zucchini and eggplant 30 mins before you start. Cut them into 1 inch dice and sprinkle with salt. Place in a colander and allow excess water to drain out.
- While the veggies are draining make vinaigrette. Add honey, dijon, salt, balsamic and garlic into a blender. Turn blender on low and slowly add in oil until it’s thick and creamy. You can do this method by hand in a bowl with a whisk but using a blender is much easier.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Arrange all the vegetables on a sheet tray, sprinkle with garlic, torn up basil leaves, pepper and a sprinkle of salt.
- Drizzle the oil over, then mix thoroughly.
- Roast for 30-40 minutes, mixing about half way to ensure even cooking.
- Let cool. Toss arugula with some of the dressing. (Just enough to lightly coat). Top with the cooled roasted veggies and garnish with feta and olives and another good drizzle of dressing.