Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Crunchy Greek Salad with Chickpeas

Crunchy Greek Salad with Chickpeas from Food Therapy
Crunchy Greek Salad with Chickpeas
Spring is coming. It really is. Trust me. Yes, the weather is flip-flopping around from warm to cold...teasing, teasing, teasing, but the warmer days and longer daylight hours promise good things to come.  After a cold winter full of casseroles, stews, and way too much meat had by me, I am ready to start eating lighter and much healthier fare. I'm craving it and so is my body, which has taken on the dreaded winter pudge.


Poor Logan, asleep with iPad in hand
In the past few weeks, the family was hit with nasty colds.  I feel lucky because we really only had the one big cold passed from person to person, with the exception of my husband.  Not sure how he manages to stay germ free, but he missed this round yet again. My littlest one got hit the hardest, starting with a croupy cough that turned into a nasty ear infection.  He's all better now, but his cold reminded me just how much we can learn from children about eating right.

I have always raised my kids to eat what we eat. I've never made special meals for them. If they don't like what we eat, they don't eat. Trust me, they find a way to eat even the asparagus and zucchini on their plates.  They don't have to clean their plates. I'm not part of the clean-plate club.  Teach your body early on to walk away when it's full.  Good habits start early.

The pickiest eater is my oldest, now 12, who is the only one whom I fed jarred baby food up to two years.  I might not have any scientific facts to back this up, but I've always believed that feeding her baby-friendly foods has turned her into a carb-obsessed preteen. If it's crunchy, spicy, or just plain odd she won't touch it.
Just a babe, eating his farm-fresh yogurt for breakfast
Then, take my three year old, who always ate pureed food that I made fresh and transitioned early on to "adult" food, and he will try anything. I won't say he absolutely likes everything, but he will try it and devour foods from quinoa to gobs of sushi and seaweed.

When he was sick recently, I let him eat and drink whatever he wanted.  I really believe that our bodies crave what it needs at that moment.  When I'm sick, I don't have much of an appetite, but I do crave fruit, water, and soup.  Like me, Logan only wanted oranges and orange juice.  He turned away from meals and snacks and went straight for the oranges. He begged me to slice up the kiwi and strawberries we had in the fridge.  If he filled up on that, so be it. It was healthy and I figured that it's what he needed at that moment, vitamin C.

Hey...I never said he eats perfectly.
The boy also loves his chips.
I believe we can take a lesson from our kids when they are very little.  They haven't had a chance to corrupt their taste buds and satisfy their cravings with junk. They have an instinctive desire to feed their bodies with what their bodies need at the moment. It can be cold milk when their bones are growing, fish full of omega-3's when their brains are growing at full speed, or foods full of Vitamin C when they are sick.  They listen.  And, we could learn a thing or two from them.

Crunchy Greek Salad with Chickpeas
Crunchy Greek Salad with Chickpeas
And now I will transition to what my body needs at the moment. Ugh...I will tell you what it doesn't need: meat. For the past week, I think I am on meat overload.  I am sluggish, tired, and feeling yucky.  All I wanted this week was salad of any kind.  And, then, I came across a great idea from Amuse Your Bouche food blog (http://www.amuse-your-bouche.com/greek-chickpea-salad/).  Becca posted a great salad idea that used chickpeas as the base rather than lettuce.  I love any kind of salad that features a Greek theme.  Tell me goat cheese, chickpeas, and a vinaigrette and I'm in!

So, with her inspiration, I started to come up with my own version of this Greek salad.  I thought a nice crunch would compliment the chickpeas, so I added some sliced carrots, a red pepper, and peanuts.  Then, I added some kalamata olives and feta cheese to round out the Greek theme and add a little saltiness to the salad.  And, finally, I threw on some juicy tomatoes, fresh parsley, and a sprinkle of pepper, tossing it all with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Easy and satisfying.  If you're looking for a nice, healthy salad for lunch or a filling salad for your weeknight dinner, you can't go wrong with this delicious recipe.

For a print-friendly version of the recipe, click: https://sites.google.com/site/crunchygreeksalad/

Ingredients:
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Red Bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 small carrots or 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, drained
3 ounces feta or goat cheese, crumbled
Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, preferably unsalted

Directions:
Drain and rinse the chickpeas.  In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, red bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes, parsley, and olives.

Add the pepper, olive oil, and vinegar to the bowl vegetable mixture.  Toss to combine.

Sprinkle with cheese and peanuts.
Inspired by Amuse Your Bouche (http://www.amuse-your-bouche.com/greek-chickpea-salad/).