22 May 2008

think less, do more: turning over new 'leaves,' or, the girl with the healthy reputation

I spent the first few days of this week working 9-6 in an office of a colleague. I'm not really a 9-6 or really an office kind of girl, in general, but I wanted to make the best of it. In the spirit of my recent dedication to stop being late, I committed myself to waking up much earlier and... going to the gym. I'm not really a gym morning person, or okay, much of a morning person in general, but I can oddly muster up the energy and desire when there's a deadline looming. But why subject myself to the early rise? Well once I considered the benefits (missing rush-hour traffic on the train, streets, and gym; having the evening free to relax; and starting the work-day off energized instead of sluggish), I stopped thinking about it and decided just to do it, and get over the feeling that waking up early was self-punishment.

Not only that, but because of my quasi-fear of growing bored, or worse yet hungry, while trapped in an office with only mediocre over-priced food awaiting in the streets below, I also each night prepared an enviable cargo of lunch and snack items: homemade salt-and-pepper popcorn (yes, as in, I made it in a pot), brown basmati with peas, cashews, garlic, lemon, and turmeric, Dr. Kracker seeded spelt crackers (they're from Texas!), soy yogurt and Ezekiel sprouted grain cereal (I love this stuff, it's similar to grape nuts, only sugar-free, organic, and overall healthier. It's the only cold cereal I'll eat now), mixed nuts, and fresh fruit.

Packing them all in various reusable containers and tucked into my canvas tote, I smiled at this image, thinking that 'Hey! These new people at the office are going to create this reputation of me' as being, if not just particularly thrifty, then totally living up to assumed expectations of my 'natural foods chef' title. With fresh market goods, organic green tea, refillable water bottle at my side, and a note to register for the upcoming half-marathon in my planner, I sat at my desk and thought, 'This is a reputation I would really like to have.' So now that I'm finally doing some of the things I've been wanting to do more often (bring my own lunch, compost, use home-made green cleaning solutions), I'm figuring out how else to best live up to my own created idea of what my reputation should be.

Having just moved, I am using the opportunity to implement more overall green practices than I have in the past. I am using all-green cleaners (yesterday I cleaned the bathroom entirely with different combinations of baking soda, an all-purpose vinegar and water spray, and a little dr. bronner's). One of the ones I'm most excited about is composting. I have done this off and on before, especially when I am doing a lot of cooking at one time, I'll save all the food scraps in a bag and take them to the compost drop-off at the Greenmarket. However, now that I have sufficient freezer space (where I store the scraps) and dedication, I am collecting acceptable food scraps and dropping them off once a week. I hope my roommates begin to feel inclined to participate as well! I mean hey, I know I make a lot of easy-to-do suggestions on here, but I also realize it's not always feasible to do it all at once, if it all, and I'm not excluded! So making the at-home composting commitment feels good!

On Wednesday morning, after the gym I breezed through the market and picked up a multi-grain roll from Bread Alone to go along with the Mediterranean tuna salad and market baby greens I'd brought from home. Whenever possible, I prefer to use real plates, bowls, and glasses-- I think it makes every dining experience significant and intentional-- and at lunchtime, I made myself this cute little meal and sat down and enjoyed it.

recipe: Mediterranean tuna salad
I don't really like 'traditional' over-mayonaised tuna salads, and while this one has a touch of vegenaise (you could use regular canola mayo), it's totally optional, I just like it for added moisture and consistency when I use it for a sandwich. Use whatever vegetables you have on-hand, but the olive and sundried tomatoes are most important in keeping with the Mediterranean style. This salad mix works really well just atop fresh salad greens, which is how I usually have it, generally substituting olive oil for the mayo.

Makes 2-3 Servings

1 6 oz. can solid tuna*, drained
1-2 tablespoons vegenaise, mayonnaise, or extra virgin olive oil (optional)
4 halves sundried tomatoes, chopped
1-2 tablespoons chopped olives (whatever kind you like)
1/4 cup chunked artichoke hearts
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cucumber, sliced or diced
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 clove raw garlic, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (lemon thyme, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, etc.)
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
mixed salad greens of your choice
salt and pepper to taste

If you're intending to make a sandwich, simply mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, eat immediately or cover and refrigerate. Keeps up to 5 days.

If you're making this to top salad greens with, I like to marinate the tuna in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper while I prepare the other ingredients. Arrange your lettuce in a bowl, top with desired amount tuna mixture and prepared vegetables.


*As I don't eat much fish or meat, and concerned with mercury and sustainable fishing practices, I exclusively use American Tuna as they are a small multi-family run business out of California that only pole-catches Albacore tuna, and they consistently score well below standard mercury-levels, and they keep their product simple, which I appreciate.

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