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Spa Lunch at Home

March 19, 2010 - Jill Anderson
I have definitely found that old saying about eating with the eyes first to be true. There is just something infinitely more appealing about beautiful food. It can be hard sometimes when you are in a hurry or if you eat alone. It is just easier to throw a sandwich together and go or grab a handful of bagged salad greens and dump some dressing on them.
I stay pretty busy and yes, even the chef is guilty of shoveling down a sandwich while standing at the kitchen counter sometimes. Since I have to photograph a lot of the foods I make anyway for various writing assignments, I’ve begun to notice that I feel so much differently about a beautifully constructed plate of food than I do about eating out of a container in front of the fridge. 
If you have ever been to one of those heavenly all day spa get-away things then you know what I mean when I talk about spa food.  They could serve you HAY and ACORNS but it looks so appealing you’d eat it and think it was the best meal you ever had! 
It is not so difficult to recreate that spa food feeling at home. All it requires is a little extra time making the food look good AND staging a little lunch area for yourself.   You’ll find yourself savoring your food and a half hour (minimum) of downtime that it takes you to eat. 
My retreat is out on the lanai by my pool. We live on one of the canals and I often see marsh birds and pelicans. I turn off my phone from noon to 1 pm, set a place for myself at the patio table and really ENJOY the fruits of my labor without distraction. It is therapeutic and it makes me feel special! 
Some Simple Lunchtime Treats
I often eat salads for lunch. Oh they may be artfully arranged and not fit the mold of a typical lettuce, tomato, cucumber with dressing, but they are still salads. 
There are a lot of unhealthy things you can do to a salad though! Let me just add right here…if you are consuming half a bottle of Ranch Dressing (or any dressing for that matter) at one sitting there IS a problem. 
Instead, why not try a novel idea…NO DRESSING! Who woulda thunk it huh? The calories, fat and SODIUM you will save is remarkable. One of my favorite things to have with a big plate of fresh organic veggies is Hummus. It is a thick, creamy dip made from chickpeas and sesame tahini and it is delicious. Here is a quick and easy hummus dip recipe for you to try.
Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
You will need:
  • 2 cans reduced sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic (wrap head of garlic in foil, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 until soft)
  • 1 teaspoons lemon zest (buying organic is best if using the peel of citrus)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons raw or roasted sesame tahini (available in kosher foods aisle)
  • 1/3 cup roasted red pepper strips, drained well (organic is recommended)
  • ¼-1/3 cup olive oil (to desired texture)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    1. Place all ingredients except oil, salt and pepper in food processor and pulse until blended. Open lid and scrape down the sides. Pulse as much as needed until mixture is thick and no large chunks remain.
2. With processor running, gradually stream in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. I like mine a little thinner so I use 1/3 cup. Scrape out into a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to serve.
Putting It All Together
The salad shown here is my version of a Japanese Bento without the fancy little lunch box of course. I just did mine on a neat leaf-shaped platter. I used a crisp, jewel toned radicchio leaf as a cup for my hummus. The salad is an array of colorful organic vegetables and a few wedges of watermelon. It is served with some homemade Blackberry Limeade.
I put the hummus in a zipper bag, snipped off one corner and used the bag to pipe it decoratively into the lettuce cup. I realize not everyone is going to carve radish flowers but hey…I have my reputation to think about so I did! 
One final tidbit; I buy as much of my produce as I can locally (grown in Florida). There are many reasons why this is the preferred way to shop which I may address in a future article. But, all other reasons aside; it is always good to support the economy of one’s OWN state! 
Todays Food Quote
"Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave.  No matter how careful you are, somebody is going to get hurt."   Alton Brown, celebrity chef and host of Good Eats.


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Vegetable Platter with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus in Radicchio Cup