This blog is the third in my "Food Basics" series, including Food Basics Part I where I write about my history with understanding "Enzyme Nutrition" and the value of including lots of Raw Foods in the diet, and Food Basics Part II, where I focus on my "break-fast" foods of choice: "Green Smoothies", and either soaked almonds, or raw cashews and Brazil nuts.
To continue my "Lunch Bag Specials" I will share here my basic "Finger Salad" preparation. I call them "Finger Salads" because...everything can be eaten with your fingers...(!). If you really want to have something to dip these vegetables into, that's fine. Try to make sure it doesn't have any high fructose corn syrup or monosodium glutamate in it. I have come to prefer these vegetables plain myself, so that is the way I eat them. Besides, including dip means making room for it in what will already be a Very Full lunch bag by the time I'm finished!
To start you'll need some plastic containers. At home or on the road I usually plan to pack around five or six at a time (however, I will only be showing three in these pictures).
I line the bottoms of the containers with light-weight, washable, cotton cloths (instead of disposable paper towels) that I have dampened with water. These I made and hemmed with my serger.
After getting the containers ready, it is time to add the Romaine lettuce. I am in the habit of chopping ends off of vegetables in multiple cuts so that the pieces are already small enough to go into the compost.
Once you have your lettuce trimmed, washed, and drained you can fit it into the plastic storage containers, breaking off more of the ends as necessary and "snacking" on those while you're at it. (This will ultimately provide you with your sixth finger salad for your prep day. : ))
Whatever lettuce is left over, I like to store it in a damp cotton bag first and then put that into another plastic bag, preferably the kind that does NOT "breath" as much, because they tend to dry-out the cotton bag, and therefore the lettuce, much more quickly. If the bag is too wet, i.e. dripping, I just take it outside for a little spin...and that takes care of that. : )
Otherwise, I have learned, again, from years of experience, that having that damp cotton bag in between the lettuce and the plastic bag allows the air around the lettuce to remain humid but Not wet. Wet lettuce against plastic = rotten lettuce. Simple as that. I used to get whole cases of romaine lettuce a long time ago and I would prep all the heads this way prior to storing them and I would have lettuce in good condition for a month or longer. (And, by the way, if you can't find these cotton bags or don't want to go to the trouble of making them yourself, let me know, because I have some home-made ones for sale...surprise, surprise. : ))
After lining the containers with lettuce, it is time for the other vegetables. I really love the Trader Joe's Persian Cucumbers, partly because they are just the right size to fit one per container and, because you don't have to slice them, they stay fresher longer. However, taking a larger conventional cucumber and slicing it into spears will also work, or cutting a hot house cucumber in pieces as well. All the cucumbers should be thoroughly washed. I like to use Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap myself. And, as with the lettuce, anything that is "left-over" or doesn't fit into the containers can be "snack food" for your prep day.
The main thing with using sliced cucumbers is the more you slice, the faster they will start to decay. I'm sure fresh cucumbers out of the garden will last better, but with conventional, store-bought cucumbers, you'll really need to be finishing them within a week, and you may even want to cut them and add them as part of your morning lunch prep.
So now we have our lettuce and cucumbers. Next up is tomatoes.
I usually use grape or cherry tomatoes. Again, I rinse them and then...I...count them, so I know how many I have to go into each container, and...you guessed it...any odd ones are snacks while I'm prepping.
So the last thing I will include in my finger salads is celery.
Basically the same prep as lettuce, chopping the ends, removing the leaves, and rinsing the stalks before cutting them into short enough pieces to fit into the containers. Little bits of celery heart, any sticks that won't fit into the containers...snack food.
There! Aren't they Beautiful?! : )
Lids on, containers go into the refrigerator, and you have a really healthy compliment of vegetables ready to go for the next week of lunches.
Pedaling for Peace
On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.