I’ve got another Girl’s Weekend coming up the end of July so while I was in TJMaxx this morning doing errands, (I was. I was at the cobbler’s next door dropping off an alligator bag and some Lily sandals. Truth!), I thought maybe I would look for a cute, black bathing suit, one that might cover up a multitude of sins. Big, BIG mistake. I am a barrel. A great, big, snowy-white barrel. You know, you think you hit rock bottom but you really haven’t. Not when you’re still thinking about that outrageous cupcake you so delicately scarfed down last night. It was bad, people. The only reason I didn’t throw myself down on the dust-bunny covered linoleum dressing room floor was that my legs still look pretty good. Small consolation but I’ll take it. And I thought, “That’s it. No more. You’re done. You know what you have to do.” And I do. I was raised in an almost completely vegetarian household. I’m perfectly aware of what I should and should not be eating. I’ve just not been paying heed to my “little voice”. The “little voice” that continually reminds me that I weigh AT LEAST 20 POUNDS more than MY FATHER. Ugh. It’s all so unfair. So back to loads of salads and vegetables, raw and grilled fruits and lean, mean proteins. Clean, boneless, brainless chicken breasts, preferably organic, need to be at hand at all times; either grilled or poached. That always makes a salad better. I’ll even make wraps with it using romaine or leaf lettuce instead of a tortilla. Grilled shrimp and wild salmon, none of that fatty farm raised stuff. I told myself driving home that it was GOOD I didn’t find a bathing suit this morning. I have two beautiful, sexy La Biancas at home and there’s not one damn thing wrong with them. It’s me that’s got the problem. I have to tell you after I yanked and pulled and tugged to get the TJMaxx bathing suit on I was exhausted. I turned and looked sideways at myself in the full length mirror. How did I get here? My shoulders slumped down, I let my spine curve and allowed my stomach to become COMPLETELY distended. Oh, sweet Jesus. I looked like Fred Mertz from the “I Love Lucy” show. Well, Fred Mertz in drag. Not a pretty picture and no one’s fault but my own. So. Taking the bull by the horns I came home to a kale salad and watermelon for lunch. This afternoon my snack will be all the Greek mountain tea my heart desires. Right now I’m on cup number two. Sweetened with Stevia and completely caffeine free this will jump-start my weight loss. And dinner will be this salad – strawberry, arugula and feta with a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction, a LIGHT scattering of toasted almond slices, a few chunks of good, Greek Feta tucked in, all topped with a piece of roasted chicken. And yes, I will rip that luscious, crispy piece of heaven off, known as the skin of roasted chicken, and lickety-split deposit it in the garbage can underneath, I don’t know…coffee grounds or something. I’m able to do that because this salad will satisfy me. Aesthetically and physically. Every girl loves shiny, scarlet berries sitting atop arugula, toasted almond slices and the rich purple of reduced balsamic vinegar. Crown it with blackened or grilled chicken, fish or shrimp and most ladies will be quite happy especially if accompanied by a glass of wine in one hand and an enormous Tory Burch or Michael Kors shopping bag at their feet. When I finish writing today I’ll go to the market for my salad ingredients and a whole watermelon. Tomorrow, hell, TONIGHT, when I want to tuck into another of those smokin’ cupcakes I made I’ll have sweet, cold watermelon already cut up, protecting me from the evils of Fudgy Cupcakes with Orange Cardamom Cream Cheese Icing. The photos have already been taken for the next post so I don’t even have to look at them. And although I’ve succumbed to the temptation of those little cakes I’m stronger now. Nudity will do that to you. But in two weeks? Look out, girls, ‘cuz I’m ‘a crunch those bathing suits!
Strawberry, Arugula and Feta Salad Drizzled with a Balsamic Vinegar Syrup
yield: 2 dinner servings
- 1 5-ounce box baby arugula
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced, each in 4 slices
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, PLEASE don’t buy that already crumbled stuff! Buy a chunk of good quality feta and crumble it yourself. Makes a world of difference.
- 1 handful almond slices, lightly toasted
- 4-5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar syrup, recipe follows, dress salad to your taste
- shrimp, chicken or fish served along side is optional, a warm, crunchy whole grain roll is great with this also.
- Place arugula in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil over it. Toss so all the leaves are coated with the olive oil.
- Mound arugula on two dinner plates. Divide berries in half and place them evenly through out the greens.
- Divide the cheese as well between the two plates of salad.
- Scatter half the almonds over each salad.
- Lightly drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar syrup over each salad and serve.
Balsamic Vinegar Syrup
yield: approximately 1/3 cup depending on how thick you make it
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- Pour vinegar and honey into a small saucepan and mix until honey is completely incorporated into the vinegar.
- Simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, but keep your eye on it so it doesn’t cook down too far and burn.
- Remove from heat and set aside. Syrup will thicken further as it cools.
- When completely cool, store in a clean glass jar and refrigerate.
- You can change up the dressing by adding a few fresh bay leaves, smashed garlic cloves or cinnamon sticks to the saucepan while you’re simmering it. Strain the dressing before serving or storing.