Lately, I've been paying much closer attention to two things; to my foody 'cravings' for want of a better word, and to availability and the 'chance' factor. They're both very important I feel.
I can actually count a special blessing with regards my feeding tube; freedom from the tyranny of our evolved sugar/fat/salt cravings. Part of the modern obesity epidemic can be slated to the unconscious 'survival' behaviour some of us exhibit when presented with ready availability (or even just thoughts of) hi-calorie foods. There's a part of the ancient reptile brain that instinctively still acts as if food may be about to be scarce at any moment now, so propels us to gorge and store the excess calories as fat.
This actually wouldn't be much of a problem at all, if what we were mainly presented with as 'food' these days was actually food, of course. The more I learn, experience and grow, the more I deeply understand how modern manipulation of once-natural foodstuffs is the real underpinning of so much of not just our health ills, but our societal ones as well. I'll save this conversation for another day however.
Since I cannot eat, I can listen to and hear my body's desires in a far deeper and less taste/texture/mouthfeel sort of way. It's hard to explain, and of course I remember what things taste like very well. I realise I can still (and I'll bet you can do this too) easily imagine what new combinations of flavours - things you've not tried together before - will taste like. In your head right now try papaya and strawberry, then add a dash of lime juice. See? (I had some with millet, walnuts and pepitas earlier today).
Anyway, lately, I've been wanting some cheese, which I haven't had for over two years. But not just any cheese, I wanted firm, white, crumbly brined cheese, like feta, and preferably non-cow milk cheese.
I shop for myself like this - I keep an eye out for good staples grains, seeds, legumes, nuts, oils, certain vegetables I love (always like to have sweet potato around) and snap up bargains or whatever I fancy at that moment in the market or supermarket aisle. Then I also have a random wandering eye for whatever else looks good and is a *real* food. You know, unprocessed or minimally processed, fresh, etc. So I spotted this lovely sheep's milk cheese; just a simple, Eastern European-style no-fuss, non-'gourmet' (thus inexpensive) brined white sheep cheese.
Today, I was working in the garden, which has some salad leaf type things ready to pick, and I REALLY fancied a sheep's milk cheese salad and bread for lunch. Seeing as how I blend mine, I can supercharge it. I basically picked and prepared a salad for two, but doubled-down on the dressings and upped the cheese ratio by maybe an extra third. So if you're doing this one for eating, halve the oil, vinegar, mustard and sesame seeds, and consider using a little less cheese. You'll see from the calculations, it's nutritionally fabulous.
Before we jump into the recipe, a note on salads and calories: McDonalds (the 'restaurant' chain) introduced just a couple of years back in Australia (I'm unsure about the Rest Of The World) a revamp, the McCafe concept, and so-called Healthier Choices menu, including salads. Many of their salads have higher caloric contents than their burgers, and the unrefined sugars and highly processed oils in the dressings and croutons and things actually make them a far less healthy choice in real terms than a burger. Go figure. Just remember, an undressed salad, without carb additives (like bread) is a VERY low-calorie thing. Dressings etc turn this on its head, OK? What we can take from this is that this sort of salad recipe is a completely excellent way of getting a good dose of fresh vital greens and raw veg, some sustaining carbs, good essential fats and oils which will help moderate the digestion (if chosen wisely) and amazingly even great protein. Win-win-win.
Here it is; you can use any breadlike thing you like, or if it's just for blending, prepare a whole grain of your choice. We had these pitas made from good stoneground whole wheat flour. How easy!
Wholemeal Pita breads, small, x 2: 361cal
Sheep's milk cheese, drained, 200g: 535cal
Salad leaves, enough for two people (I used rocket and two types of non-hearting lettuce): zero cal.
Tomatoes, 125g (or anything you like): 25cal
Sesame seeds 50g: 300cal
Flax seed oil 30ml: 246cal
Balsamic vinegar 30ml: 79cal
Seeded wholegrain mustard 50g: 80cal
Fresh basil, thai (sacred) basil, garlic chives, borage flowers: zero cal.
If eating, simply tear up the leaves (including the basil), crumble the cheese, cut you tomatoes nice and small or just halve cherry tomatoes then mix up your dressing using half amounts of the mustard, oil and vinegar, add in the chopped garlic chives, toss, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, which will stick to the moist cheese and the dressing and all over everything, giving a wonderful nutty little texture contrast, place the flowers on last.
Blending method: add water to approx 1 litre. Blend.
Total volume 1 litre, 1626 cal = 3 x servings of approx 333ml @542 cal each
See how supercharged it is? And it doesn't feel fatty in the least. The breakdown is:
57g protein / 108g fat / 96g carbs,
BUT, if you halve those dressing items, you get 1.27 cal/ml (38 cal/oz) and a 41p / 54f / 74c ratio, which is a very nice allround profile.
Looked nicer before blending, but still - a lovely colour, don't you think?