different shade of indulgence… greens!

There are two groups of people, one who thinks I am extremely conscious of what I eat, and another who thinks I only indulge. Like most people, I am in the middle, or perhaps I am neither here nor there, but mirror what most people try to do in striking a balance, or attempt to, between the good and bad foods in life. Fortunately for me, there are some kinds of food that I enjoy that actually fall into the healthy category, at least from what I believe them to be. Greens are one of such things, something that I came late to discover, the goodness of them. I used to think that eating salads was a plain waste of time and money, with the high and exorbitant price tags on a bowl of leaves. I am not too wrong but yet I couldn’t be more wrong. Salads are not just about raw vegetables and nothing else, they can contain much, much more things that can spice up the dish, and in some cases, things can be added to the mix that can also turn this supposed healthy meal into a calorie minefield. I try to keep mine fairly healthy, whether it is meatless or not, because I am not a big fan of creamy dressings or in fact, even drenching my salads with dressings. It can get quite unpalatable when the vegetables become soggy and soft due to them being drowned in salad dressing that is overly generous.

Here are some that I’ve had recently. Toss & Turn, a small salad portion of rockets for the base (or you could pick cous cous, noodles or maybe rice I think), 2 proteins and 2 other toppings, for S$7.80. They have rather nice salads although I have never tried the options on the menu since I prefer to mix-and-match based on what I like to eat. But I find their service wanting, even if I typically just pack away. Couldn’t hurt to smile a little more or be a little friendlier like perhaps the service crew at Starbucks or the likes, right?

20140617-101420-36860722.jpgThen there’s this salad shop near my office called The Lawn. A fairly generous bowl of salad, with mesculun as base (if I remember correctly) and 5 standard toppings, for S$9.90. You could add a whole lot of other stuff to it that would of course then add to the price of the salad but it also means you can have a wider variety to make your meal more interesting. This is probably the first salad shop I’ve visited that serves chestnuts!

20140617-101420-36860679.jpgSomewhere tucked into a small little shop of Tanjong Pagar exchange is this salad shop called Cluck Cluck. Actually I am not sure if that’s its name, but I heard they were opened by this other shop by that name diagonally opposite it, which sells country-style furniture and home furnishings. It’s mainly for takeaway, salads that come in a reusable plastic box at S$4.90 for 5 standard toppings, or you can swap that for 3 standard toppings and 1 premium topping (e.g. meats and I’m not sure what else because I’ve never chosen that option here).

20140617-101420-36860765.jpgAnd we have the usual, Salad Stop, that is just a stone’s throw away at Capital Tower. This picture wasn’t taken at that outlet, since I’ve only been there once; there are just way cheaper options in that area to make me want to drop in. For S$9.90, you get greens (frankly, I can’t tell these leaves apart, but I think these are romaine lettuce) plus 5 standard toppings. I’ve ever just mixed-and-matched and ended with a salad that set me back by about S$14, that nearly made my eyes pop out. There is a reason why a lot of these salad shops in the area are frequented by a certain type of crowd. Folks like me can’t afford to have such salads on a daily basis, and yet I am too lazy to DIY. It really is more economical for me to just buy all my raw ingredients and bring my own salad to work, but then… that is probably something that I will consider doing when I finally get my own home.

20140617-101420-36860597.jpgMid-week tomorrow. Yay!

Toss & Turn (takeout)

Back from the weekend and it sure was a good break even though it’s just physical absence from the office, being on a course that shortened the work-week of sorts and then led me straight into the weekend. I know it can be just a state of mind, how we feel about the office, the environment, the people, the work, and so on and so forth, but extravaneous factors can contribute to the overall feeling despite of what we personally feel inside.

Anyway, the last time I visited Toss & Turn, I said it was highly likely that I will return, and indeed I did! I was googling around for it online and did read some not-so-good reviews about it because of the price and choice, but it works pretty well for me where a salad is concerned. In Orchard, I think the options can be fairly limited if I am looking for a salad for takeout. Well, cafes nearby do sell salads too but those are generally crafted versions that do not offer me the choice to mix-and-match with only items that I am keen to have.

Last Monday night, I decided to drop in for a takeout to bring to class. It can be a bit messier to have a salad as compared to just buying a bread/sandwich because it does require some effort to concentrate on slicing the greens and chewing them, making sure that I don’t spill the contents of the plastic container onto the table or my materials, so this option will be only for when I have the luxury of time before class to eat. 20130918-132747.jpg

Again I ordered the small portion at S$7.80 and made my own concoction. For the base this time, I chose the greens instead of the noodles because honestly just the noodles alone are enough for dinner already! For the protein/deli, I picked roast chicken again and then kumara (a type of sweet potatoes), which I really liked! Topped it off with edamame beans and dried cranberries. I also decided to drizzle some sesame plum dressing onto the salad because I was wondering if it will be too dry with just the greens. It was ok but only because I didn’t put too much otherwise it might make the whole thing a bit too sweet/sticky. The cranberries already gave the salad the sweetness to balance out other tastes, so perhaps olive oil would suffice for the greens for the next time!

Toss & Turn, ION Orchard

Urgh, lousy unclear shot. But yes, at long last I finally walked into Toss & Turn in basement 4 of ION Orchard, something I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time!20130828-100520.jpg

I didn’t know before that they were part of Cedele, but it wasn’t hard to know because once I passed by and peeked at the menu offerings and spied the Cedele logo. I wished I had a Cedele near my office because I can’t rave enough about how much I enjoy their food, despite some occasions of lousy service. Anyways, Toss & Turn is a great idea, but it’s like a sub-branch of the usual Cedele shops because I recalled seeing the same salad bar at the Cedele outlet at Novena Square. They offer some sandwiches too, and also have the usual daily soup selections, so I’m guessing they don’t have the full range of sandwiches that Cedele bakery cafes carry?

But. That’s where my disclaimer comes in before everything else; the salads are pretty pricey. Ok, I know salads aren’t really meant to be cheap considering that it really isn’t just a bowl of greens like how some people may imagine when it comes to their idea of what a salad is. But most of the ready-to-order salads cost more than S$10 per serving, although to be fair to them, the serving is enormous, from what I could see on the tables of other patrons. If not, you could always choose to make-your-own and mix items per your wish. You have a choice of two sizes, with the smaller costing S$7.80 and the bigger one at S$9.80, including a salad base (greens, rice salad, noodle salad or pasta), 2 deli or protein items and 2 others (e.g. beans and stuff). I chose to mix my own and I was so spoilt for choice at the deli/protein part because I felt like ordering everything there. Technically you could, by adding a cost to each item. I can’t remember how much each additional item cost, but then you’ll be having an extremely costly salad.

So the result of my selection for a small portion was the noodle salad which I kind of liked (I think it’s tossed in an aglio olio way), grilled chicken which wasn’t too bad but felt a tad dry, grilled beet root, edamame beans and almond flakes:  20130828-100532.jpg

I couldn’t finish all the noodles even though it was a small size so you can imagine how much there must be if it was the regular (or is it called large) size. I’m quite sure this will only be the start of my visits to Toss & Turn, and I can definitely consider taking away their salads home in future! Oh, and I ordered a coffee too, which seemed like an odd choice with a salad, but I wanted to have coffee and didn’t want to have the usual cake/muffin/scone so I popped into Toss & Turn. Their coffee isn’t fantastic but it will do, especially when it’s just S$3 compared to the usual brews elsewhere that are about at least S$4.