Friday, March 29, 2013

The Rainbow Connection

After 3 days of Passover leftovers of (chicken, brisket, potato kugel), we were over[the]lefts, it was time for a meal change-up.  In my cousins house with my surrogate family for the week, my aunt and I decided to clear out the refrigerator and make a large salad filled with colors of the rainbow. We started with a white salad dish and covered the plate with a bed of Kelly-green romaine lettuce. Then we moved that over to the side and began the chopping of the vegetables. First came the vibrant purple cabbage, which I sliced into chunks, circular cuts of carrots, "c" shaped cuts of celery and small chopped pieces of a sunshine yellow pepper. Since a balanced meal should have many different food groups - we added ripe avocado slices for the nutritious fats and lumps of crab meat for protein. To finish it off, we sprinkled some sesame seeds on top. Within a mere 10 minutes of preparation, a salad masterpiece was created. And then came the taste-test, the crisp bites of lettuce, the crunch of peppers, carrots, cabbage and celery mixed with the creamy bites of the avocado, the flavors were to die for. The crab added a soft, delicate sweet taste. This salad was the perfect diversion from my repetitive Passover meal choices.  Leaving me satisfied and excited to eat the left-overs the following day.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Mindful Mediterranean Meal

All day long my timing was off because of daylight savings, even though we "sprang forward" an hour, I felt as if we really had "fallen back" one instead.  At 6:30 I arrived for my dinner reservation with my uncle at Aldar Bistro on Montgomery Ave in Bala Cynwyd.  I couldn't wait to eat, my stomach was grumbling.  The style of the restaurant is Mediterranean, so we chose a hummus platter for an appetizer.  About 10 minutes after we placed the order, out came a heaping bowl of hummus with fresh chickpeas, a bowl of char-grilled pita triangles and a handful of sliced cucumbers.  I dipped a crisp cucumber in the bowl of hummus.  The flavors tingled in my mouth, the crunch of the cucumber was complimented by the creaminess of the hummus.  I decided tonight at dinner I was going to practice the art of mindful eating, a skill I am learning about in this new book I am reading called Savor by world renown Buddhist, Thict Nhat Hanh.  I ate slowly, taking in every flavor, concentrating on every bite, letting myself enjoy the food I was eating, rather than being distracted by the surrounding tables and loud conversations.  For dinner, my entree came out bright with color.  The bright colors resembled the weather outside, the warmth from the yellow sun as the seasons change from winter to spring.  I ordered a dish with a simple name, "Chicken and Vegetables", but the dish was anything but simple.  A large deep-dish plate filled with a bed of couscous (a wheat grain, similar to rice or pasta) and other ingredients - grilled slices of chicken, flat orange carrot chunks, slices of thin white onion, "c" shaped cuts of yellow summer squash and green zucchini; as I dug further into the deep surface of the plate, I discovered more - sliced mangoes and pineapple chunks, with a couple raisins that were hidden throughout the dish.  The entire meal was drizzled in a light cinnamon curry sauce.  The cinnamon flavor came through in each bite.  The chicken was tender, the carrots were soft, the zucchini and squash were juicy, the onions provided an even balance from the pungent flavor.  The couscous was the perfect grain as it picked up all the flavors from the dish.  The meal was delicious and filled with flavor, I cannot wait to go back again.