Bright Asian purple cabbage and pecan salad with a sweet sesame dressing.
This might be the very first time on this blog where I’ve added sugar to something. Crazy, I know, right?! I’ve added honey to this dressing, and it is really, really delicious. Is that considered Paleo? Well, yes and no. Truthfully I’m not too worried about what diet label this fits under.
If I’m going to be super open and honest about food, I’ve had issues with sugar. I am also having a hard time sharing all this in such a public way! I’ve kept things on the light and happy side here in this space, but I feel like it’s important to share truth. I hope anyone that can relate might not feel so strange, and that my readers can see I don’t live a perfectly glossy life. We all have our struggles. Food is probably one of my biggest struggles, which is why I blog about it, to keep me sane and accountable. My issues with sugar probably border on the disordered eating side. Self diagnosed, and maybe disordered is a bit too strong. Maybe it’s better described as I have a difficult relationship with sugar. Who knows, maybe a Dr. would say I’m an addict, I’m not sure.
My problem lies within a swinging pendulum of super strict restriction for long periods of time, which then swings over to the other side and lands at out of control. It’s like I’m a nun in a food convent, and then one day I break free and have my way with doughnuts for breakfast, ice cream for lunch and cake for dessert at dinner. On the other side of it all I have dabbled in this moderation and balance business, and it is really really hard. To be clear I don’t have a handle on that either…but I’m trying to make baby steps.
Baby step number 1: Stop with the rules, and calling certain foods bad and certain foods good. Start thinking in terms of natural and processed. Eat as much of the natural as possible. Eating the foods that take care of my body. I’ve been demonizing sugar, to the point I don’t even use honey. That’s all well and good until I decide to have a treat on a holiday, but then for some reason I just can’t stop. It is frustrating. Some might say I have the personality of an abstainer and should just not eat sugar ever. But, I don’t buy into that. I didn’t have this issue until I tried a very strict diet of clean eating. There has to be a happy medium, I just have to train my brain to get there. I’m starting out with thinking in terms of taking care of my body, not rules or restriction.
Baby step number 2: Track calories for goals. Sometimes I have maintenance goals. Sometimes I want to lean out a little. Sometimes I want to build more muscle. All three of these have different caloric requirements. Over the last year and a half I’ve been just eyeballing portions, and for the most part eating pretty darn clean. (Except for the runaway train around holidays and events.) Can I tell you how frustrating it is to be eating 100% clean and not see results (even while hitting the gym on the regular)? A few weeks ago I started measuring my food and man was I really surprised. I’ve only been measuring protein, fruit and fat. I never measure or restrict vegetables (except potatoes, they can pack a caloric punch!). The surprising thing was I was NOT getting enough calories. I was grossly underestimating 4 oz of protein. Uh…no wonder why I was hungry, and having a hard time sticking to my meal plans. I don’t care what the latest diet book says, whenever you’re trying to change your body (in any direction) you NEED to hit caloric goals. Even if you’re eating “clean”, natural foods. If you’ve had a difficult relationship with food, you’re terrible at eyeballing measurements, or you’ve never measured out a tablespoon of oil, then YOU SHOULD MEASURE YOUR FOOD for a few weeks until you have a good handle on what your portions should look like. This also plays into step 1, where it’s ok to have a little treat here, or add honey there, but just enough so they fit in my caloric/macro goals. For the last couple weeks it’s kept me satisfied and I haven’t felt restricted.
I have a few fitness friends that have disliked tracking calories and macros because that has been a path that led them to disordered eating. But, for the couple weeks I’ve done this I find that by dinner time I have a pretty good handle on what my meal plate should look like and I don’t have to measure. I’m not obsessive about it. It’s been a great tool to keep me from being on that crazy swinging pendulum of restriction and binging. So, we’ll see how the rest of my personal experiment goes. Overall I hope that by eating more balanced, but within calories/macros I can reach my goals and maintain food sanity at the same time.
Whew…that was a whole lot of personal right there. So, let’s get back to this salad, I’m starting to feel naked.
This salad wins for so many reasons: healthy veggies, it’s delicious, so easy to make, no cooking, and you can easily adjust the amounts of everything to fit your macros. And bonus, it’s really pretty (sorry men, I know you don’t care). If honey isn’t your thing, then use 4 soaked dates with the pits removed. You’ll have to blend the dressing together to incorporate the dates.
- ¼ C apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
- ¼ C honey (or 4 soaked dates)
- ¼ C coconut aminos
- ⅛ C avocado oil
- ⅛ C cold pressed sesame oil
- ½ - 1 tsp salt
- 1 head purple cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 handful pecans
- 5 scallions, finely chopped
- Whisk together the vinegar, honey, coconut aminos, and oils. Salt to taste.
- Right before serving toss the cabbage together with the dressing, top with pecans and scallions. This recipe makes a lot of dressing, and you might not need all of it.