Salads don’t have to suck. For a long time (well before my nutrition career), I believed that salads were a form of self-punishment. I tried to like them. I couldn’t do it.
Later I learned they aren’t so bad, thanks to salad geniuses like my friends at Chop’t Salad Creative Co. But you don’t have to order takeout just to get a good salad. If you think you’re incapable of making an edible salad at home, try this recipe and change your perception. It’s a guaranteed winner-winner salad dinner!
Baby Kale & Quinoa Salad + Honey-Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
Yields 1-2 servings *If you’re really hungry, I wouldn’t share it 🙂
4 cups baby kale
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 tablespoons orange juice, fresh
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon organic raw honey
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 medium avocado, cubed
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
For the Kale Chips
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Rinse and dry kale well. Toss 1 1/2 cups of the kale in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cayenne pepper. Massage the oil and seasoning into the kale leaves.
Divide and spread leaves into two even layers on baking sheets.
*Note: the more space between leaves, the crispier your kale chips will be. Therefore, try to keep overlapping pieces to a minimum.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Gently transfer kale chips with parchment paper onto a cool surface. Allow the kale chips to cool completely.
For the Orange-Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
Whisk together orange juice, remaining olive oil (3 tablespoons), honey, and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with remaining salt.
For the Salad
Massage the remaining kale with 1 teaspoon of Honey-Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette. This will serve as your base of the salad. Layer this on the bottom of a salad bowl or large plate.
Toss cooked quinoa with White Balsamic Vinegar. Add the cooked quinoa on top of the kale. Sprinkle chickpeas, cranberries, pine nuts, and avocado.
Top with kale chips, and pour remaining dressing over the salad, or leave on the side.
One of the biggest nutrition obstacles for most people is figuring out what to eat for lunch. When I worked at a desk full-time, I can recall several times where I just couldn’t bring myself to pack a lunch or plan meals ahead. When I didn’t have a plan, I was much more likely to be impulsive with my food choices and eat something I didn’t necessarily want all that much just to bring a little excitement to my day. Can anyone relate?
This thought process and reluctance to change behavior, aka packing a lunch when you would rather just wing it, is normal. We are creatures of habit, so it sometimes takes doing something with reluctance and witnessing the benefits in order to reinforce a new habit. We have the tendency to turn the idea of change into a much larger, more difficult dilemma than it really is.
Eggs are small but mighty nutrition powerhouses. This egg salad recipe not only satisfies the body, mind and tastebuds, but it is a great (easy!) option to throw into your weekly rotation of meals, especially if you are struggling with finding good options that do not require a lot of time or energy.
I am offering you this simple recipe in hopes that you will try it, like it, and start to make more meals at home instead of feeling conflicted about what to eat out in a world of endless food choices. It’s all about balance, so let this recipe be a part of that equation!
Easy Egg Salad
Yields approximately 2-3 servings
Cook Time 15 minutes
4 large hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoon light mayo
1 tablespoon light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon juice from sweet gherkins (optional)
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)
Peel hard boiled eggs and dispose of shells. Separate the yolks from the egg whites by slicing each egg into halves, and place egg yolks in a bowl.
Mash the yolks with a fork, and add mayo, sour cream, mustard, salt, pepper, and pickle juice. Mix ingredients until you reach a smooth consistency.
Gently fold in the egg whites.
Divide the egg salad evenly between two containers and store covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to consume.
For an added touch of fancy, sprinkle paprika on top of the final product just before serving and/or consuming.
Serving Recommendation: serve egg salad with Mary’s Gone Crackers gluten-free original crackers.
As a dietitian, providing healthier options to my clients is the bare minimum of what I do. If it tastes like cardboard, what is the point? Therefore, if I am offering suggestions or recipes, I am going to try them out for myself first to make sure they pass the test. If I can’t find a realistic option, then I will create one. And this is one of the main reasons why I spend hours of my time in my kitchen working on new recipes to share with my clients as well as my readers.
The recipe development process is timely, yes. But it can also be also pretty fun if you like to taste-test. In my kitchen, a recipe is never 100% complete, but at some point you have to put the forks down to write it all down. This chicken salad tune-up is a healthier option to the mayo-overloaded chicken salad without sacrificing the flavor.
A Chicken Salad Tune-Up
yields approximately 3-4 servings
32 oz Organic Chicken Broth, Reduced Sodium
1-2 lb Organic Chicken Breast
1-2 stalks Celery (finely chopped)
1/4 cup Onion (finely chopped)
1/2 cup Organic Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1 tsp Kosher Salt
Pour chicken broth into crock pot and turn on high heat.
Once liquid begins to simmer, add chicken breasts, cover with a lid and turn heat to low. Allow chicken to slow cook for 4-6 hours until tender.
Chop celery and onion while chicken is slow cooking. Place into a small, covered container and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
In a small mixing bowl, stir mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, and spices. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Once chicken has cooked, remove from crockpot and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Shred chicken with two forks while it is still hot. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes, then cover container with foil and place in refrigerator to chill.
Once chicken has cooled, add remaining ingredients and combine well. Adjust seasonings to your preference.
I recommend pairing this chicken salad with Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crisps or Mary’s Gone Crackers depending on your taste preferences and diet restrictions. The Raisin Rosemary Crisps bring a slight sweetness to the chicken salad game for a great sweet and savory combo, and they are a good bang for your buck with respect to calories and taste (90 calories for 11 crackers). Mary’s Gone Crackers allows the chicken salad to take the spotlight, and they are organic, vegan, non-gmo and gluten-free! You really cannot go wrong with either choice.