I never really considered myself a “healthy” cook. In truth, because I don’t feel I am qualified to know what the word “healthy” means. My Ph.D. is not in anything related to food or nutrition, nor anything that could even be remotely construed as such. To me, what seem like obviously healthy foods may not be the case for everyone – for example a banana is a pretty natural food, but to a diabetic the carb load in most bananas usually makes them off limits. So who am I to make blanket statements about which foods or meals are healthy and which are not? Everyone has different requirements and needs based on their individual situations, and I could not presume to guess what would be suitable for all. I don’t even like associating the term “gluten free” with “healthy”, because we all know that gluten free foods and products come in several different forms – and gluten free junk food is still just that – junk food. There are healthy and unhealthy items in every diet. So the best I can do is make food that accommodates the specific dietary needs of our household and share my experience with you all. I leave it to you to make your own decisions about the suitability of the food I make.
In my own personal food philosophy, I don’t really count calories or fats or carbs of any particular item anymore (I used to, and there are several reasons why I could not sustain such practices for an extended length of time). I love shopping at the market to see what is fresh and “speaking to me”, and I cook from scratch as best I can. But does “from scratch” really equate to “healthy”? And really, does anyone truly cook from scratch if they aren’t growing/catching/hunting all of their own food? We all use ingredients that have been handled or processed in some way, even if we aren’t using a ready-made food from a box or the freezer aisle.
I do a general evaluation of the healthfulness of my own habits by looking at my overall consumption. I tend to ignore advice about miracle foods providing that one key nutrient which is this month’s current savior to the western diet, and just go based on what seems to be right for me and my husband. I’m sure several experts could look at our eating habits and tell us what we eat is “healthy”, just as I’m sure several other experts could find problems with the food we prepare. I do my best to stay out of the debate. But from my personal experience I will say this – I believe there is a difference between the healthfulness of a particular food and the lifestyle surrounding the consumption of a food. Some are able to effectively accommodate the pleasures of certain indulgences for themselves, and others are not. How we choose to eat such foods is a very separate concept of health from the actual status of the food itself. Eating a small portion of a very unhealthy food does not put a halo over it to make that food magically healthy. Because of these nuances, I find it very difficult to comfortably say whether or not a meal is healthy. It really all depends – on the person, their habits, and needs.
I also don’t post everything I eat on this blog. Sometimes I don’t even prepare a full meal. Yesterday for example, I had goats-milk yogurt with fresh blueberries late in the afternoon, and then a couple hours later mashed up some avocado in a bowl with a little chopped tomato, lemon, salt & pepper. Hardly blog-worthy. You certainly don’t need me to tell you know how to empty a container of blueberries onto a bowl of yogurt. But when I make something I had fun preparing, or something new that my husband and I haven’t tried before, or even an old classic that I just feel like sharing, those are the things I put up here. And that’s what this salad is – something that was fun to make, flavorful, and satisfying. There are many vegetables in it, and some shrimp. There’s rice noodles. Some people may call it healthy, some people may not. I make no claims other than it’s gluten free, quick and tasty
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
*Note these measurements aren’t very precise. They aren’t meant to be. Go with what feels right to you or what you have on hand.
- Cooking oil of your choice
- Some shrimps, peeled, deveined, tails removed (number will depend on the size of the shrimp)
- 1/2 lemon
- 125 g (about 1/4 lb.) rice noodles
- 1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
- 1 sweet bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 bunch radishes, sliced
- handful greens of your choice, sautéed (I used the greens from the bunch of radishes above)
- 1/4 cup or so of grated carrots
- chives, chopped
- handful cashews, chopped
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- Heat a skillet over medium to high heat with some cooking oil, and sauté the shrimps until they are fully cooked. Squeeze the lemon juice over them, remove from heat and set aside.
- Cook rice noodles according to package directions, drain, and then plunge noodles into a bowl of ice water. Once cooled, drain them.
- In a large bowl combine noodles, greens, shrimp, all of the veggies, chives and cashews and toss together.
- Whisk together the rice vinegar and sesame oil to make a dressing and mix into the salad. Enjoy!