Sweet and Spicy Tomato and Kidney Bean Salad

One of the best things about not eating meat is that you can make meals without having to actually cook anything. Just cut, combine and stir. Whether you're in a hurry, feeling lazy or just want that fresh crunch, a plant based diet gives you the freedom to cook without literally cooking. 

Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's convenient to just cut and combine. It's also surprisingly tasty to keep those fresh ingredients in their natural state. 

The textures and flavors are vibrant and exciting. 

A little salt, a little acid, some  fat, a spice or two and you're all set with a delicious meal. 

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 long hot pepper, diced
1 serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls olive oil
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 

That's it. You're done. Enjoy your not so hard work.

The Salad Deception

You know what always tickles my funny bone just a little bit... people who eat salads. Well, people who eat salads believing them to be healthy and low in fat and calories. Restaurant salads are generally worse for you than anything. Caesar salad is not low fat. It's the dressing. That's the culprit. If you eat dry salad or salad only with vinegar you'll be all right. But the dressings are swimming in fat and calories. People hear or read the word salad and they automatically equate that with a healthy choice. And food purveyors take full advantage of that. Marketing this ersatz health food to unsuspecting diners.

Somewhere along the line people especially got the false idea that Caesar dressing and vinaigrette's are better. Not true at all. Vinaigrette has just as much oil as any other dressing. While its true that 'creamy' dressings may have more fat than oil/vinegar mixes all regular dressings are pretty darn fatty. If it's not lite or fat free beware.

Caesar dressing is especially deceptive because the name doesn't indicate what the ingredient may be or if it's high or low fat. But be assured, if it's salad dressing and lite or low fat are not a part of the name, then it's high in calories and fat. Caesar dressings is basically Italian dressing with Parmesan cheese and anchovies added. Different companies may make it different ways, but basically it's Italian dressing with some cheese. So they've taken a standard oil and vinegar based salad dressing, which is already bad news and added Parmesan cheese. Which tastes good, but only adds additional fat, additional calories and additional salt.

Salad is good, sans dressing. Once you add any dressing that isn't fat free you're in trouble. Fat free dressing has its own problems. Additional sugar and too many chemicals. Salad with plain red wine vinegar and some salt and pepper is a great way to avoid fat laden dressings. I also like to add nutritional yeast to mine. You could also add your own light sprinkle of grated cheese. Just a very light sprinkle will add a lot of flavor, but little in the way of waist expanders. I prefer the yeast. The yeast and vinegar combine to make a nice, tart and tangy super light and extrenely nutritious dressing.