Menus are designed to organize our choices. It makes life easier for everyone, right? Here are your options, love – you can have a burger; you can have a grilled chicken sandwich; you can have a salad. You want fries with that? And while we all know at some level we can ask for special things, it can be so easy to get in a rut and forget the choices we have. As a result, we can overlook wonderful opportunities to try something new. I had a great reminder recently that life can be so much more satisfying when you look at things with a little creativity.
The background: after years of trying various nutrition philosophies, I’ve been quite happy with my current approach to healthy eating. I eat protein and I eat veggies. Of course I do eat other things (a story for another day), but I prioritize protein and veggies at most meals. So at work I’ve made a habit of visiting the salad bar to load up on veggies and chicken. I didn’t do the grill because, well, sandwiches. I’ve tried–and failed, so far at least–to embrace the whole lettuce wrap thing. No, thank you. I’m just fine. I have only five minutes and I know exactly what I want.
Alas, even a well-stocked salad bar can get boring. And then, one fateful day, the salad bar had no chicken. What’s a protein loving girl to do? Do a salad with hard boiled egg and lifeless turkey cubes? Have a burger as my cheat meal? Give in and learn to finally love the messy lettuce wrap?
And then it hit me. I was letting the menu dictate my options. So what if I order a burger without the bun and add it to my salad? I can experiment, right? Ask and you will receive. Feeling inspired, I custom ordered myself a turkey burger salad:
- A turkey burger (no bun, thank you – *smiles sweetly*)
- A wee bit of bacon
- Grilled onions
- My usual salad bar goodies with mixed greens, sweet peppers, tomatoes, etc.
- A touch of barbecue sauce for my “dressing”
It all seemed so obvious, and so delicious, yet I didn’t “see” this wonderful salad because I was letting the menu dictate my lunches. And in the process of exploring, I learned the grill had things I hadn’t realized were even available at work, like avocado and side veggies that weren’t posted on the menu.
My turkey burger salad taught me it’s so important to explore and experiment–even when you think you know the territory. I’d love to hear about your food adventures!