Greek Salad with Zucchini Fritters & Sugar Detox Update

This is one of my faovite salads of all time. No.1 it is so incredibly fast to make. No.2 cleanup is a breeze. No.3, 4, and 5 it has artichoke hearts in it. I love them. I love them. I love them.

The dish is fresh and light, but surprisingly filling with the chickpeas giving you fiber and protein. You can have the salad as your main dish or serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish. Sometimes I just have it with some warmed pita bread, but if you really want a treat make some zucchini fritters to go along with it.

Sugar Detox Update:
I've just put my first full week free of coffee, alcohol and SUGAR behind me. It's been 8 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes... not that I'm counting or anything. WOOOoooOO!! I would like to say that breaking away has been oh-so easy with all the delicious meals and snacks I've made, but the truth is it just isn't. This is not because what I am eating is not  satisfying! It is! In fact, the food tastes great and I'm feel pretty great too. I have fewer ups and downs throughout the day. It’s just that…. you run into a number of other obstacles along the way:
1) Convenience. Popping bread in the toaster while getting ready in the morning is easy. I can't munch ona bowl of fruit, granola and yogurt while I walk out the door. I mean I could try… but something tells me I’d get some pretty strange looks.

The world of snacks present a whole new challenge. In between meals, I find myself wandering into the kitchen, opening the cupboards and peering to the fridge, looking for something to snack on and then wandering out again in dismay.

Bottomline: Eating clean means you really have to put some thought into where your calories are coming from. Whole foods don't come prepackaged in snack-sized fun packs. There are healthy alternatives, though: fruits, nuts, cottage cheese, vegetables, hummus, etc. But you have to make sure those things are on hand otherwise you are setting yourself up for hunger pangs, temptation and, ultimately, failure.

2) Social stigma, peer pressure and going against the grain.
What! You’re not eating bread OR pasta? So basically… you eat rabbit food now?
Why would you give up alcohol? That’s just no fun.
Are you trying to lose weight?
Come on, just join us tonight. We’re going out for wine.
I’m getting coffee, anyone want some?

One of the hardest things about doing this detox has been that most everyone around me is not. I say most, because I am lucky enough to have the support of a few strong-willed, healthful-minded coworkers and my boyfriend. But sugar, coffee and alcohol are ingrained in society in ways we don't often realize. It's someone's birthday and you don't eat the cake that was made. Coworkers want to go out for lunch, but nothing on the menu fits your diet. Your friends want to meet up at a wine bar for drinks after work. Pretty soon you are getting funny looks and people want to know why you aren’t partaking in the FUN! This opens up the door for dialogue or, in same cases, critique, indifference, disbelief, interest or just some good old-fashioned teasing. And you have to be prepared.

3) Old habits die hard. After lunch, I find myself craving something sweet to get that taste of whatever I just ate out of my mouth. When 3 p.m. rolls around, I’m longing for a cup of coffee to lift me out of my midday slump. When I’m watching a movie, I have this strong desire to mindlessly snack on junk food. Saturday morning, I missed slowly sipping coffee in my chair by the window.

Fighting these habits is hard! After meals I find that brushing my teeth or chewing gum puts an end to my desire to eat square after square of Rittersport chocolate. To break up the monotony of my day and wake my brain up, I walk around the office, get a breath of fresh air or make a cup of tea. And so I can still mindlessly snack during movies, I’ve replaced my bag of bugles with lightly salted popcorn. It’s all doable. But first you have to recognize when these urges hit and why. Then you can figure out how to counter them.

Greek Salad with Zucchini Fritters

Salad (serves 4 as a side/2 as a meal)
1 large cucumber, peeled, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 red onion, diced
15 oz can of chickpeas, washed and drained
1 jar of artichoke hearts packed in water, slice in half
1 clove garlic, pressed
½ cup feta cheese
1/3 cup of olives, chopped (optional)
3 peperoncini peppers, finely chopped (optional)
Pepper (to taste, feta usually adds enough salt as is)
Juice of 1 lemon
Garnish: fresh basil, parsley

1. Combine cucumber, red pepper, red onion, chickpeas, artichoke hearts and garlic in a large bowl. 
2. Crumble in feta and pour in lemon juice and oil. Toss to combine.
3. Season to taste with pepper and garnish with fresh basil.

Fritters (serves 4 as a side/2 as a meal)

2 medium zucchini, finely grated
1 green onion, finely chopped (optional)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. dried basil and oregano
Salt and pepper (to taste, I use about 1/4 tsp. each)
1/2 cup all purpose flour or chickpea flour1/2 tsp. baking powder (optional, use if you wan t them fluffy)
Olive oil

1. Use a dish towel, cheese cloth or just your hands to wring out excess moisture from the zucchini. The more you get out the crisper the fritters will be.2. In a medium bowl, use a fork to combine the zucchini, green onion and eggs until the mixture is fluffy.
3. Stir in spices and flour until well combined.
4. In a non-stick pan on medium heat, add olive oil and spoon around 2 T. of the mixture into pan. Cook around 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

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