You are starving, and you pull out your meal prepped container. You open it and see an iceberg lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes, four slices of cucumber, shredded carrots, one boiled egg, halved and a sprinkle of yellow cheddar cheese. The salad is devoured in minutes, and you are left hungry thinking about Italian food, pasta salad, garlic bread and all the carbs in the world. Ten minutes after your lunch break, you are hungry, again.
The most common myth many women and men who want to lose weight believe is no carbs. Carbs are the enemy and should be avoided. This myth is not true. To help you incorporate more carbs into your diet, I created an orzo salad that is filled with many micronutrients.
To make this orzo salad, I wanted something fresh that was perfect for the summer. I add roasted bell peppers, fresh lemon juice, crisp red onion and pitted black olives. This combination gave the salad a fresh taste, but the recipe was still missing an element.
My sister tasted the salad, my mom tasted the salad, but none of their suggestions spoke to me. One more taste test, and I realized the salad needed a salty component but not actual salt. I looked for something creamy and salty, and immediately feta came to my mind. Goat cheese is too soft for this particular salad, and feta hold its shape and is the perfect saltiness I looked for. With the feta, the salad tasted complete.
I would like to share my orzo salad with you, and to help you understand that you do not have to eliminate carbs to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle.
Start to finish: 25 minutes
One 16-ounce Orzo box (white or whole wheat)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 -3 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, purple, or green, the more color the better)
1/2 red onion
handful fresh parsley, extra for garnish (substitution: cilantro)
1/2 can pitted black olives
4-6 lemons or limes (you may need more if limes or lemons are small)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (you can add more for more heat)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Feta cheese (optional but highly recommended)
Fill a medium pot half way with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt into the boiling water. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, dice all the vegetables, remove thyme leaves from the sprigs and roughly chop the parsley and thyme. Make sure you chop through the thyme because it allows the flavor of the thyme to come forward. Set aside.
In a small bowl, juice all the lemons or limes, add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Whisk together. Set aside.
Cook the orzo pasta for 9-11 minutes or follow the box instructions.
Drain the pasta, place in a large bowl and add the diced vegetables, chopped thyme and parsley, feta cheese and the dressing. Mix together.
Adjust salt and cayenne pepper to your liking.
Enjoy the orzo salad with chicken, tofu, tempeh, shrimp or steak with a chimichurri.
*Grab according to your serving size. This is a family-sized meal, grab according to your serving size. If you are not following specific portion sizes, grab as much as you want and enjoy.