Have we known each other for more than a few years? If you knew me before I flew across the pond to spend a few years in Edinburgh, you would probably have summed me up, if asked, with a few simple descriptive words or phrases:

  1. Girl who loves Jesus.
  2. Pretty happy most of the time.
  3. Hates vegetables like few people I’ve ever met.
  4. Loves bacon like few people I’ve ever met.
  5. Can devour a chicken supreme combo with fries and Mountain Dew from Bojangles like she’s getting paid.

If I’m real honest, I think either number three or four, or perhaps number five, might’ve come at the top of the descriptive list.

But. Good News.

If you’ve known me for that long and were beginning to get concerned about my cholesterol level or my heavy sodium intake, there is good news. I’ve really been reformed. And a majority of the blame for the reformation belongs in Hero Hubs’ corner. When we were engaged and discussing our future together, he pointed out two important facts:

  1. He is eight years older than me.
  2. Heart disease runs in his family.

He summed up these two points with the comment, “If you want me to be around for a while, we’re going to have to eat differently.” My twenty-five year old eyes grew wider than a four year old kid who’s about to sit on Santa’s lap for the first time. And the journey to healthier eating began.

I will sum up my Operation Healthy Eating Philosophy with a few more bullet points, because, well, they’re just working for me this post:

  • If it’s a week night, veggies are going to be a feature on our dinner plates. {This healthy habit has done a lovely job of spilling over into the weekend, so it’s rare that we eat an unbalanced dinner any night of the week.}
  • Potatoes don’t count as a veggie. Sigh.
  • Veggies that have cooked all day or have condensed milk and brown sugar should be the exception and not the rule.
  • Healthier eating is a journey. I’ve been gradually incorporating healthier food choices over the past few years, one change at a time. Things like trying to eat fish at least once a week. Finding creative ways to get fresh fruit on HH’s plate. Coming up with healthier lunch options than the basic sandwich that leaves me ready for a snack two hours later. Making sure a fresh salad is on the menu in that veggie category at least a couple times a week.

And there it is…some of you might’ve gasped aloud when you read that last sentence. I’ll tell you again, believe it!

Salad is on our menu a couple times a week.

Do you believe me? For those of you who haven’t known me that long, let me catch you up.

At the age of twenty-five I could probably count the number of salads I’d eaten on two hands. Like, in my whole life. Because I hated them. Like gag, gag, I can’t do it, hated them. Spinach salad with bacon, hard-boiled egg, and enough dressing for three salads was usually my best attempt. Honestly, just about any veggie got pushed around my plate until the dog stopped by or the waitress came.

But a special moment this week made me recognise how far I’ve come. I asked for Sandy Coughlin’s book for Christmas, {she’s the face behind the Reluctant Entertainer} and (thanks, sister!) I opened it up on Christmas morning. I realised just a wee while ago that my favourite recipe so far (it’s not a cookbook, but it has recipes interspersed with the message) is for a Strawberry Salad. A salad. And that’s not because it’s not a great book. (I’m really enjoying it!) It’s just a really great salad and I’m excited to be eating it.

I don’t exactly follow the recipe, and I don’t know if I’m supposed to quote someone else’s recipe word for word here without permission, so I’ll tell you a few basics of my version, because some of the ingredients are too pricey for me to include them in this neck of the woods. And believe it or not, it calls for bacon and I don’t include it. Wow.

My version includes lots of fresh greens, feta cheese, sliced strawberries (last week when they had them at Pick ‘n Pay) or halved raspberries (because that’s what they had this week at PnP). And the magic that makes the salad come alive: {Thank you so much, Sandy Coughlin, you have made my year and it’s only January.} toasted egg noodles. Seriously. Crunch up a packet of Ramen Noodles (or whatever cheap-o egg noodles are called in the country where you find yourself) and toast them in the oven until they’ve lightly browned.  Sprinkle just before serving. Your salad will thank you. Your family will thank you. If you invite me over and feed me this salad, I will thank you. At least twice.

When something as simple as this makes my year, I feel like it would just be wrong not to share it.

So here’s the summary of this post for those of you who’ve been skimming and dead bored:

  1. I used to be a terrible eater, but don’t worry, I’m doing way better.
  2. Sprinkle some toasted noodles on just about anything and I think you’ll be doing better than you were five minutes ago.
  3. Happy New Year.