On January 24, my wife and I challenged ourselves to be committed to eating at least one salad a day for the next 21 days. For some this seems like an impossible feat and for others a walk in the park, but for us it was just right. Through a combination of several eat-out salads (Souplantation, Tender Greens, and Chipotle), 3 salad recipes, and plenty of make-it-your-way salads using a combination of the ingredients that we already bought, we were able to make it to 35 days and counting!
The hardest part of our challenge was sticking to our regiment on the weekends while we were out and about. During the week we were able to plan out our grocery shopping and any prep work. So if we can do it, SO CAN YOU!
1) Good nutrients For the most part, salads are packed with nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants…etc). Cruciferous vegetables (such as kale, broccoli and cabbage) are considered a superfood due to its nutrient density and health promoting properties (anti cancer, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory)
Good fat over bad fat
Depending on how you make your salad you have have the opportunity to add in a ton of good fats from various sources such as olives, coconuts, and avocados. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFA, specifically oleic acid, and not only protects against chemical stress (oxidation), but helps to improve your metabolism. Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride or MCT with Lauric acid (other fatty acids present, but not predominate). Various studies have shown that consumption of coconut oil is neuroprotective, enhances neuroprotective pathways, and gives the brain an alternative fuel compared to glucose. Avocado oil is mostly made up with oleic and palmitoleic acids and has been shown to decrease chemical stress known as oxidation and to improve brain function.
2) Easy to make
Ever want a dish that you didn’t need to use the oven or stove (unless you need your meat)? Salad is the answer!
The biggest work in a making a salad is the preparation. Slice and dice your ingredients, maybe add a dressing or olive oil, and voila! You’re done!
Salads can be full of fiber, and think of fiber as a loofah (Luffa) for your digestive system. While fiber may not necessarily do any scrubbing in your digestive tract, plenty of fiber and water can help your body flush your digestive system of toxins and other indigestible material. Also, a lack of fiber can lead to constipation and over time can lead to hemerroids, anal fissures, impaction, rectal prolapse, and cancer.
So the next time you need to prepare a meal or eat out, consider having salad on the menu. They are not only easy to make and give you a great source of powerful nutrients, but they’re preventable measures for your health. You don’t need to think of salad as your favorite food of choice, but eat it often to help prevent diseases. Just some food for thought.
SANTA FE SHRIMP SALAD
Source: Gourmet Fresh
Fresh Gourmet® Santa Fe Tortilla Strips
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
4 cups mixed salad greens
Place the oil, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper in a container with a tight fitting top and shake until well blended.
Place the shrimp in a sealable plastic bag. Cover with half the oil mixture and marinate for no more than 30 mins. Save remaining mixture for dressing.
Remove shrimp from marinade. Spray a non-stick saute pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. When hot, place shrimp in pan and saute on each side until pink.
In a large bowl, toss together red onion, green onion, sliced tomatoes and salad greens with remaining dressing. Divide onto individual plates. Top each plate with shrimp and sprinkle with Fresh Gourmet® Santa Fe Tortilla Strips
Modification: This recipe I modified it by not using any tortilla strips and used only 2 cloves of garlic.
CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/3 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup shelled edamame
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chow mein noodles, for serving
1/4 cup sliced almonds, for serving
For the Sesame Vinagrette
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together rice wine vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, sugar, ginger and soy sauce in a small bowl; set aside.
3. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken, soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper; marinate for at least 30 minutes, turning the bag occasionally.
4. Add chicken and marinade to a baking dish. Place into oven and bake until cooked through and juices run clear, about 13-15 minutes. Let cool before dicing into bite-size pieces.
5. To assemble the salad, place romaine lettuce in a large bowl; top with red cabbage, carrots, edamame, green onion and chicken. Pour sesame vinaigrette on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
6. Serve immediately, topped with chow mein noodles and almonds, if desired.
Modification: This recipe I modified it by not using any chow mein noodles and used arugula or spring mix instead of romaine lettuce.
Apple Gorgonzola Salad (Buca di Beppo Copycat)
Source: Food Charlatan
Have you had the Apple Gorgonzola Salad from Buca di Beppo? This copycat recipe is spot on! Fresh romaine lettuce tossed in a delicious homemade Italian vinaigrette, topped with dried cranberries, spiced walnuts, gorgonzola, and Granny Smith Apples!
For the Candied Walnuts
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
2 cups walnut halves or pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
For the Italian vinaigrette
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
2 medium cloves garlic
2 tablespoons red onion, finely minced*
3/4 cup olive oil
For the salad
1 large head romaine lettuce
2 Granny Smith apples
half lemon, juiced (to preserve apples*)
3/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
3/4 cup dried cranberries
For the walnuts:
1. Start by making the candied walnuts. Preheat your oven to 225. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg white and water until foamy, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the walnuts and stir to coat.
4. Add the walnuts to a strainer in your sink. Try to prop it up on something so that the walnuts can drain, and leave it there for 2-3 minutes.
5. Meanwhile in a large ziplock, shake together sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Add the egg white-coated walnuts, seal, and shake. Make sure they all get coated really well.
6. Dump the walnuts on the prepared pan and spread them out in a single layer, breaking up clumps.
7. Bake at 225 for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
For the dressing:
1. In a blender, add the white wine vinegar, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, and red onion (if you think you can eyeball it pretty well, you don’t have to finely mince it first, just throw in what looks like it will be 2 tablespoons minced. Be conservative!)
2. Blend together. Open the spout while the blender is running and slowly pour in 3/4 cup olive oil. Set aside.
1. Wash and chop the lettuce into bite size pieces, drying it in a salad spinner if you have one. (I love my salad spinner. It’s so fun!)
2. Core the apples. Chop one into bite size pieces, and thinly slice the other one. Put them immediately in a medium bowl with the lemon juice, stirring to coat. (This is to prevent browning, and is only necessary if you are interested in pretty presentation.)
3. Add all the romaine to a large serving bowl. Add at least 1/2 cup of the dressing, or more. Stir to coat. Add the chopped apples, 1/2 to 1 cup candied walnuts, most of the gorgonzola, and most of the cranberries. Toss together.
4. Top the salad with additional walnuts, gorgonzola, and cranberries. Layer the sliced apples on top however you like.
Modification: I made this one without the cheese, personal preference, and used store bought candied walnuts and salad dressing.
Red Quinoa, Couscous and Arugula Salad with Sweet Pimiento Dressing (Trader Joe’s copycat recipe)
Source: Inside Karen’s Kitchen
Total Time: 30 minutes Yield: 8-10 servings
Red Quinoa, Couscous and Arugula Salad with Sweet Pimiento Dressing
4 cups arugula lettuce leaves
2 cups cooked Israeli couscous
2 cups cooked red quinoa
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/4 cup dried currants or blueberries
1/4 cup roasted pistachio nuts (optional)
1/4 cup roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Marinade for lemon chicken (optional)
1 pound trimmed boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
1/2 tsp salt
1. Combine arugula, couscous, red quinoa, carrot, green onion, currants and nuts in large bowl. Toss to combine.
For the Dressing:
1. Combine roasted red peppers and remaining dressing ingredients except olive oil in container of food processor fitted with metal blade. Cover and process until smooth. Slowly pour olive oil through shoot while processor is on to incorporate.
2. If you desire less pulp in dressing, pour dressing through a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl, pressing with a spoon to extract as much fluid as possible. Discard solids in strainer.
3. For the chicken (optional): Place chicken in heavy-duty zip-lock bag. Add marinade ingredients to bag and seal. Squeeze bag with hands to distribute marinade around chicken.
4. Chill in refrigerator for up to 8 hours or until ready to grill. Remove chicken from bag and place chicken on prepared grill.
5. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Allow to cool slightly. Cut chicken into slices and arrange on salad.
Modification: No Currants.