I have been on my share of diets. Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach and several others. I have weighed, measured, and estimated portion size for much of my adult life. Those days are behind me now.

Now, my rules are fairly simple. I load up on as many fruits and veggies as I want and try to eat mostly what's in season. I do not believe in counting portions when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Today I had two apples, an orange, a banana and a cup of grapes. And that was just the fruit. I had about 3 cups of salad and a whole bunch of bell peppers. I just do not believe in counting portions when it comes to fruits and vegetables.

My rules around everything other than fruits and vegetables are also pretty simple. I just eat VERY little of it. Breakfast is a half cup of cereal. An eighth of a chicken plus a half a potato is dinner (plus several portions of salad or veggies). If I want more, or if it isn't meal time, I reach for a fruit. I do my very best to eat nothing but fruit between meals.Overall, after all is said and done, I probably take in about 1000 calories a day. But I don't count or measure!

I've been diet-free for almost a year now and I FEEL GREAT. Great about myself and how I look (yes! I lost 25 pounds since I stopped dieting!) but also great about how I can finally enjoy food without the guilt.

The recipe below is a great main dish salad. It's got quite a bit of bulk from vegetables, and the lentils and salty goat cheese are a near perfect protein. In my humble opinion. I had this with a whole wheat roll for dinner tonight and it was just wonderful. It looked and tasted gourmet. But I promise it was easy! 

French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese (adapted from the back of a bag of Shiloh French Lentils)
Use vegetable stock if you can, here. It adds a lot of nutrients and flavor. 
Although I haven't tried it, this recipe would probably work well with ordinary lentils too. I like the French lentils because they are small and delicate, and they cook up quickly. You'd probably need to increase the cooking time with regular lentils. (Let me know if you do try it so I can update the recipe!) You can also serve this on a bed of greens or baby spinach if desired. 

1 cup French lentils
2 cups water or stock

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped 
1 red pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
about 1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the lentils in the stock/water until tender but not mushy, for about 40 minutes. Drain and cool. (This step can be done up to a few hours ahead of time. Just let the lentils rest at room temperature till you're ready to proceed.) 

While the lentils are cooling, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about five minutes. Add the garlic, carrot, and celery, and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes longer, till the vegetables are softening and the garlic is fragrant. 

In a large bowl, combine the cooled lentils with the sauteed vegetables. Add the pepper and parsley. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus the vinegar, salt, and pepper. 

Add cheese and serve. 

Here's a list of other bloggers participating in the Eat. Live. Be. ChallengeSarah, Cate, Maris, Chris, Faith, Kristen, Emily, Jenna, Joanne, Casey, Patsy, Tri-Fit Mom, Claire, Allison, Jen and Leslie.

Linking this up to Weekend Bloggy Reading!

Total time: Published March 3, 2011; Yield 4 servings