Remember when you were younger and your parents tried to get you to eat a salad or vegetables and you would find ways to hide it under the mashed potatoes or meat? No? Maybe it was just me. I was never a fan of variety of vegetables, especially anything with lettuce. Carrots, okay. Celery, possibly. Tomatoes, sure. Corn, absolutely. Avocado, without question. Lettuce, not my thing. And that’s what salad was to me…a big bowl of green lettuce. Appetizing, right? If you think about it, that is also what you get when you go to a restaurant – a side salad typically consists of lots of lettuce, two wedges of tomato, two slices of cucumber, and possibly a ring of red onion, depending on the restaurant. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on your view), you might also get a pinch of cheese and 3 croutons. Yum. I’m cringing already.
As I’ve gotten older and have learned what I like to eat, I’ve grown to love salads. I find the variety of vegetables and sometimes fruits make me feel both healthy and eager to dig in. Jicama, peppers, beans, quinoa, and mango are all new salad additions for me. I mean, really, where were these salads when I was growing up? If it wasn’t for the fact that I love chicken and bacon, I could almost have stayed on the path to being vegetarian. Almost. That’s another story, though.
This summer, without fail, every week at the grocery store, I would dig around among the fruits and vegetables to find items to add to my salads. Many nights, a big bowl of salad with a sweet potato biscuit has sufficed for dinner. Maybe living in the south has helped this process – it’s too hot to cook most nights and a salad doesn’t feel like a lot of work. Paired with a tall glass of iced tea and a piece grilled chicken breast or piece of fish, I feel justified in a tiny piece of chocolate for dessert. What can I say? I deserve a reward for eating healthy.
My Favorite Salad (today)
2 stalks green onion, diced
1/2 orange pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 oz mushrooms, chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 avocado, diced
1 can baby corn, rinsed and cut in bite sized pieces
1 c broccoli slaw
1/2 c shredded carrots (or diced baby carrots)
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed well
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed well
Favorite lettuce blend, preferably something with spinach
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Leftovers will store well in airtight container and refrigerated for 2-3 days.
Feta cheese crumbles, optional
GF croutons, optional
1) If you can’t find broccoli slaw, use 1 cup of red cabbage (sliced and chopped)
2) If you aren’t a bean fan, feel free to substitute diced chicken or turkey instead
3) To make your own gluten free croutons:
A. Preheat oven to Broil
B. Cut 2 slices of gluten free bread (I typically use Udi’s brand) into small cubes and place on cookie sheet
C. Mix 1/4 c olive oil and 1 tsp of your choice of seasonings (I use season salt, garlic powder, and chipotle powder) in separate bowl and mix well
D. Brush olive oil mixture onto bread cubes
E. Broil for 2 minutes, then turn cubes over and brown other side for an additional 1-2 minutes (speaking from experience, watch the time close as it will burn quickly)
F. Transfer to a bowl to serve with the salad
4) Mix it up – if you don’t like black beans, use kidney beans; if you like jicama, add it. The point of this salad is to create a visually appealing masterpiece that you’d be excited to eat!
What do you like to add to your salads?