Thursday, May 16, 2013

Reflection and Panzanella Salad

I was going back through old posts on my blog to see where I started.  I actually started it before what you see as the first posting on here.  I started when my original goal was weight loss, documenting my thoughts and daily habits.  It was interesting but didn’t have anything to do with where I am today. 

Something I think about often is how different I am now from where I was last year.  Last year I was at the tail end of a big hyperthyroid swing, one that I didn’t even know I was on until the racing heart symptom appeared.  I still remember how it felt to be in the early part of that period though, it was awesome.  I felt powerful, strong and energetic.  Little did I know that it was rather a false “high” because of the hyperthyroid swing. 

I did learn something during that period though; I learned what it must feel like for other people to feel healthy and full of energy.  I’m not in a pity party today, at all, just reflecting back and seeing how much of a difference a year can make.  Now, while weight loss would be nice, my ultimate goal is to be as healthy as possible.  I have made a lot of dietary changes; I eat veggies at every meal, and quite a few of them, gluten is a thing of the past so my carbs have lessened (though I think they could go a little lower) and I have really knocked back sugar, though that’s as compared to a lot before, so that could likely go lower too.  I just feel great that I have transferred myself to raw agave syrup and almond milk in my morning coffee J

I don’t really have a recipe to share today, just a couple of ideas for different things to do with veggies since this is the best time of the year because they are all so fresh.  I love asparagus; it’s one of my all-time favorite veggies. During grilling season I like to throw them on the grill with a tiny bit of oil, salt and pepper then wrap them with a small amount of prosciutto, it’s so good!  Another favorite is a panzanella salad because I LOVE fresh tomatoes.  I have seen a lot of different versions out there, but mine is my favorite.  Of course, I can’t have it with great crusty bread any more but I have learned that if I cut up GF bread into big chunks, toast it in the oven before using and toss it with the remainder of the salad right before serving it works out pretty well.  If you love tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar this may become a staple for you during the summer.  It also works great as a topping for grilled meats!  Finally, roasted red peppers, fresh off the grill, on a skewer with some artichoke hearts and bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella)….so good!

I’m making myself hungry; I guess it’s time to eat lunch.

Panzanella Salad


1 lb tomatoes, chopped (I have used roma, vine ripened, cherry and grape, it doesn’t matter as long as it they are ripe and juicy)
¼ red onion, chopped finely
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped (you can use any color, green tends to be too strong though)
Salt and pepper to taste (you need at least a little salt to get the juices in the veggies going)
Fresh basil to taste
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
2-4 T balsamic vinegar (make sure you buy the really good stuff, it’s worth it)
5-6 slices of GF bread (I use Udi’s) cut into large chunks then toasted in the oven


  1. Seed tomatoes (if you are using larger ones) then chop into a little smaller than bite size pieces and place in glass or plastic bowl, add a little bit of salt
  2. Chop the red onion, garlic and bell pepper and put into the bowl, add a little more salt and some pepper, mix well
  3. At this point cover the mixture and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to let the juices in the veggies start to mingle
  4. Add in the olive oil and vinegar, hold back on the vinegar a bit, add 2 T, taste, then add more if you need to (I love the vinegar so I usually add more than some would)
  5. If you aren’t going to eat this now this is the point to stop, cover and put into the refrigerator (just keep in mind, the fridge makes tomatoes mushy, I don’t do this but you could)
  6. When you are ready to eat the salad cut up and toast the bread, allowing to cool for a few minutes before adding to the salad
  7. Stack and roll the basil leaves then snip fine pieces into the salad using your kitchen scissors
  8. Add in the bread, mix everything well and serve right away
  9. (If you are going to use as a salsa on top of grilled meat then omit the bread steps)

I hope you enjoy the salad; it’s one of my favorites and one of the reasons I look forward to summer.  I make it at least a couple times a week when tomatoes are in season.

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