One of the great things about the rise in awareness (and subsequent popularity) of CrossFit is how it has made weightlifting pretty cool for a growing subset of women. Don’t get me wrong: it’s very clear that the prevailing advice that encourages eschewing heavy weights for lots of cardio is still the loudest voice in the room, but every so often I’ll learn that one of my colleagues or acquaintances lifts and it’s kind of fantastic. That said, I find some aspects of CrossFit to be rather problematic, and those issues I think can be summed up in two bullets:
- This nonsense that airs during reruns of the CrossFit games* drives me up a wall, because of course the ONLY reason why women would be remotely interested in lifting weights or doing other tough exercises is to become a “ten” rather than a “seven.” Never mind the actual benefits of exercise–it’s just so we look hot when we hit up the bars after the gym, amirite ladies? (Insert a GIF of Liz Lemon rolling her eyes.) UGH THIS MAKES ME SO ANGRY I END UP OVERUSING ITALICS AND CAPS LOCK.
- Their endorsement of and adherence to the Paleo diet, which I instantly give the side-eye to given that it doesn’t allow any grains or dairy.
There are other things about it I find troubling, but these are the two that grind my gears the absolute most.
I won’t belabor my first point too much more because this will either devolve into an incoherent smashing of keyboard keys, or I’ll be too tempted to share Michael’s assessment of the ad and it’s for the best if that particular conversation stays off the internet. As for my beef with Paleo, well, I’ve never liked the idea of diets that cut out entire food groups outside of doing so for medical reasons like an allergy. Is there a benefit to not making your entire diet based on grains and cheese? Probably, but I’d rather just incorporate a wider variety of foods into my diet rather than cut out certain ones altogether.
Some days require a nice plate of pasta at the end of them, you know?
That said, I know that Paleo works for a number of people, and hey, bully for you if it does. I’m just trying to enjoy having more vegetables in my diet. So in my quest to broaden my appetite for the cruciferous, I’ve turned to salads. Big, satisfying salads that complement a meat or fish and never make you wish there was something else on your plate. Thankfully, my latest latest culinary crush José Andrés has a couple of absolutely out-of-this-world salads in his book Tapas that take full advantage of wintertime citrus available now. The salad above, served with Tom Colicchio’s balsamic-grilled quail, was easily one of the fastest meals I’ve put together on a Tuesday night and reader, it was fantastic, and it could technically count as something paleo-friendly as long as olive oil is a permitted fat.
The seasoned quail sit all day in a marinade of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, thyme, rosemary, and garlic; just a few minutes on a hot grill is all that’s needed to finish them, so you have plenty of time to devote to salad construction. The two most time-consuming aspects of this recipe are seeding the pomegranate and supreming the oranges. Truthfully, I went for convenience and picked up a small container of arils rather than going through the trouble of seeding a pomegranate. The way I see it, I had more time to tend to the oranges this way and I saved myself some cleanup time because I didn’t have pomegranate juice stains to scrub out of the cutting board.
Supreming is straightforward once you get the hang of it: using a good, serrated paring knife, slice off the top and bottom of the orange so you have a stable base to work on, and slice off the skin while following the contours of the fruit. You’ll need to do a little touch-up work to get all of the pith off of the fruit. Then, using the outlines of the membrane as a guide, slice out the segments (be careful of seeds as they can make things difficult) and place them on a plate. That’s all there is to it, but it takes a little practices to not waste fruit as you cut. Valencia oranges are both small and relatively inexpensive, making them ideal fruits to test out this technique.
The recipe for the grilled quail can be found here (scroll down to the fourth recipe–you will need to expand the text), and my take on Jose Andres’ sublime salad can be found below.
Pomegranate, Valencia Orange, Romaine and Almond Salad
adapted from Tapas by José Andrés
- 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
- 2 Valencian oranges, supremed (see above for my tips)
- 1/2 cup of pomegranate arils
- 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
Wash and dry lettuce and set aside. Toast the almonds gently in a small saucepan until they begin to smell like almonds and set aside. Make the dressing by whisking the minced garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar together and then add some salt to taste. Dress the greens well, and then add the orange segments and almonds together and sprinkle the pomegranate arils generously. If you’re looking for a particularly visually-pleasing presentation, add the greens to the plate first and then sprinkle with the orange segments, almonds, and pomegranate arils.
*Sometimes we turn this on when it’s 4PM on a Saturday and it gives me an extra boost of confidence to squat or deadlift a little more than I’m used to. Watching the amazing lady lifters perform Oly lifts during the Olympics did the same thing.