One thing I didn't appreciate as much as I should have when I was childless was my ability to eat at my own convenience. I was prepared to give up bathing at will or scheduling outings around my own whims when he was born, but I was surprised to learn how he would impact eating. I mean, it's my eating in question-- the baby shouldn't affect that, right?
Wrong! First, nursing mothers have to consume more calories (about 500 per day, depending on various factors), which is great because I like to eat. But it's hard for me to eat when he's awake because I often need to be doing something for him, like feeding him or changing his diaper, or I just don't want to be doing anything other than looking at his cute little face and kissing him all over his wee body with the big, pear-shaped belly he's got. Irresistible! And when he sleeps, there are other things I need to be doing. Like sleeping ("Sleep when the baby sleeps!" is the mantra for new parents), or brushing my teeth. So, though I could pretty much always eat, I can't expect to have regular meals for the time being.
Second is that we recently figured out that our baby bear doesn't tolerate cows milk or soy very well right now. Apparently this is relatively common in babies, and nearly all of them outgrow it by the time they're six months old. It's a protein thing; nuts are another common culprit. So in addition to the timing of eating, I had to rid my diet of all cows milk and soy. Oh, how it pains me to not eat cookies.
And last is preparation: It's got to be straightforward. And preferably can be done in stages.
Enter this salad. It's not revolutionary, but it's kept me alive these past few weeks. I can take forever to chop the veggies and fruit if I need to; if I get distracted while preparing it, all the ingredients will keep in the refrigerator until I can come back later. It lasts nearly a week, it's healthy, it's tasty, it's versatile. Perfect.
Clean-Out-the-Fridge Barley Salad
Seriously, go look in your refrigerator, grab vegetables or fruit that's about to go bad, and toss it in here. Do you have beans leftover from something, or hanging around in your cupboards from that time you didn't make those bean burgers? Grab them, too.
In this iteration I've used Anasazi beans, which are very cool looking indeed, and black beans. I added red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, some celery, half a red onion, and rounded it off with an ear of sweet corn. I've been loving the chile-lime dressing and have been using it on everything from barley salad to quinoa fruit salad.
- Any vegetables or fruits that suit you. Here I used half a red onion, three celery stalks, and one of each of the following: red, yellow, orange bell peppers, an ear of sweet corn.
- Beans. In this version I had about one cup each of Anasazi and black beans.
- 1 cup barley
- ~ 1/3 c lime juice
- ~1/3 c olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- Red chile powder, to taste
- Red chile flakes, to taste
- Bring about five cups water to a boil; salt the water generously and then add the barley. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the barley is al dente, about 30 minutes. Drain and let cool to room temperature.
- Prepare all your produce, dicing as finely as you like.
- Prepare dressing by combining the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and red chile powder and flakes. Whisk.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, making sure everything is coated with dressing. Will keep, refrigerated, for about a week.