Chicken & Grapes Waldorf Salad (and a slightly bent resolution)

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How many of you resolved to eat better this year? I’m guessing a lot. It’s a pretty popular resolution. (Actually, that might be why you’re here right now!)

I resolved to eat clean as much as possible by eating fewer foods that have more than five inrgredients on the label. (More than 5 ingredients is okay as long as I make it myself). Essentially, I’m trying to cut processed foods. Just a few weeks into the year I’m already realizing how hard that is. Bread is impossible to buy in the store without a ton of ingredients and preservatives (and as much as I’d love to, I’m NOT making my own bread on a regular basis). I’ve spent a lot of time reading food labels in 2015.

So when I had a craving for waldorf salad, I was in a bind. (Waldorf salad is usually a chicken salad with apples, grapes, and/or nuts.) I wanted a fresh, crisp dish to start off a healthy New Year, but there was one barrier in my way: mayonnaise – the base for the waldorf dressing.  Sadly, the mayonnaise I had in my fridge had exactly 10 ingredients. Too many.

I thought about substitutes, but couldn’t come up with any that could properly replace the creaminess of the tradition dressing for a waldorf salad. So I went for it – but in a small quantity. The dressing in this recipe includes a little mayonnaise, but also apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Overall, this is a healthier, lighter version of a waldorf salad. So what if I cheated a little bit? Rules are meant to be broken (or just slightly bent)!

Light Chicken Waldorf Salad

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Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.28, 434 calories, 13g fat, 70g carbs, 39g protein.

Slice ¼ cup grapes in half, cook ¼ cup faro according to package instructions, and slice 1 large stalk celery on a bias. Prepare dressing the dressing by whisk together 1 teaspoon each of mayonnaise, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss grapes, faro, celery, 1 cup arugula, and 6 ounces of sliced, cooked chicken breast with the dressing.

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Kale Caesar Salad & Raw Chocolate Pudding

Hello! I’m so honored to be the first guest-poster on Cook Like Kayla. As Kayla’s former work twin (no joke- our colleagues would get us confused) it seems fitting that I would be subbing in for her today. I’ve enjoyed watching this blog grow and I’m excited to be sharing with you today my two new favorite comfort foods turned healthy recipes.

As a background note, these recipes came from a place of pure desperation- crawling into my apartment after a long day in the hospital and wanting nothing more than to just stuff my face full of goodies and collapse into bed.  What’s amazing about these recipes is that they not only fill that comfort food craving but are also incredibly healthy and take only about 15 minutes to blend up in your Vitamix or blender. Say hello to your new long day pick me up.

Kale Caesar Salad

If you have any kale skeptics in your life, try this recipe on them. I guarantee they’ll change their minds.

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Place 1 garlic clove, 3/4 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and 2-4 anchovies (optional) into your Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Blend until fully emulsified, about 30 to 45 seconds.

Pour dressing over 1 head of kale, center stalks removed and sliced crosswise into fine ribbons. (Lacinato, also known as dinosaur kale, works best but any type of kale will do. Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and 1/2 preserved lemon (optional) on top of the salad and toss to combine. Enjoy!

Raw Chocolate Pudding

I know, avocado and pudding don’t sound like they should even be in the same sentence. Trust me, the avocado gives the pudding its texture, not its taste. Plus, what’s better than healthy chocolate pudding?!  Not too much.

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Place 1 avocado (seed and skin removed), 1 ripe banana4 tablespoons dark cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons liquid sweetener (agave, honey, brown rice syrup, etc.), 1/4 cup coconut flakes, 1/2 cup water1 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract into your Vitamix or blender. Blend to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add more water as needed for consistency.

Chill until cold (or approximately the amount of time it takes you to eat your salad, if you’re me). If you’re really feeling ambitious, garnish with fresh berries.

Enjoy!

-Aka

Everyday Kale Salad

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Summer is in full swing and it has left me running in circles (in a good way). I blame training for a triathlon and beautiful weather that begs for outdoor social engagements. I’ve been a little behind on my posts (and laundry, and email, and cleaning…) but I’m getting back on schedule. Because it’s been hard to keep to my usual routine, I’ve been leaning toward easy to prep meals that can keep for a while in the fridge, so that the last minute dinner with the girls doesn’t through of my meal plan for the week. Insert this kale salad. As I’ve said before, kale is my favorite leafy green for many reasons. Today’s reason is it’s heartiness, which allows you to keep kale longer than other salad greens. No more slimy mixed greens for you!

Before I jump into the recipe, I need to highlight one thing: the key here is massaging the kale. Yes, it sounds weird, but it makes a huge difference!

Everyday Kale Salad

Yield: 4 servings. Per Serving (without mix-ins): $0.53, 71 calories, 4g fat, 23g carbs, 2g protein.

Wash 1 bunch of kale (about 1 pound), remove stems, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Whisk together your favorites of the following ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil – I highly suggest olive oil as your base for any dressing, but you could use vegetable oil if necessary.
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar or acid – I like apple cider or red wine vinegars, but you could also use balsamic or rice wine vinegar, or even lemon or lime juice.
  • 1 teaspoon syrup – honey is my go-to, but maple syrup or agave nectar works.
  • 1 teaspoon salt – go kosher or go home!

Massage the kale with your hands much like you would knead dough, until it turns a dark green. Toss in the dressing and let marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Add your favorite salad mixings (pictured here – tomatoes, red onion, fresh corn, and Israeli couscous) and enjoy!

Meal Plan Monday: April 14, 2014

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I’m happy to introduce my new blog feature: Meal Plan Monday! Twice a month, I’ll post my meal plan and grocery list for the week. I chose to post this on Mondays because 1) alliteration and 2) I usually grocery shop on Sunday (giving me time to prep and write the post). If any of these meals or ingredients intrigues you, let me know in a comment and I’ll try to post them on the blog or explain in a response. 

My meal plan for this week is below – I’m super excited to try to recreate a take-out favorite, Orange Chicken. I picked up some really great looking organic bok choy at the grocery store to serve it with. I’m also looking forward to spending some quality time with my roommates, catch up with a few friends from college, and see my Mom and sister this weekend.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
B Bagel with cream cheese Cheerios with sliced strawberries Cheerios with sliced strawberries Cheerios with sliced strawberries Cheerios with sliced strawberries Cheerios with sliced strawberries Bagel & scrambled eggs
L Sandwich  Spinach salad with roasted asparagus, beets, and goat cheese Spinach salad with roasted asparagus, beets, and goat cheese Spinach salad with roasted asparagus, beets, and goat cheese Orange chicken with quinoa and bok choy Orange chicken with quinoa and bok choy Mom & sister visiting
D Chicken pot pie Chicken pot pie Out with the roomies Orange chicken with quinoa and bok choy Leftovers Dinner with friends from college Mom & sister visiting

Snacks this week

  • Banana
  • Yogurt
  • Goldfish
  • Blueberry Kind Bars

Grocery list

  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Bok choy
  • Spinach salad blend
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Goat cheese
  • Chicken
  • Quinoa
  • Honey
  • Frozen vegetable mix
  • Chicken broth
  • Milk
  • Total bill: $46

What’s on your menu this week?

Pomegranate Greek Salad

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I often say that soup is the winter equivalent of a salad. If prepared correctly, a vegetable-based soup can be as healthy, light, and nutritious as a bright summer salad. However, salads themselves can be great in winter time too, with a few tweaks.

Make a salad winter-ready by adding seasonal veggies and a warm element. Here, I added pomegranate seeds pearled couscous. You could try another grain – like quinoa or faro – but I prefer the doughy, soft texture of the pearled couscous. Seeding a pomegranate can be a pain, but it’s always worth it.

Pomegranate Greek Salad

Cook 1 package pearled couscous according to package directions. Top 2 cups mixed greens with 1/3 cup cooked couscous, 5 diced olive, 2 ounces cubed feta cheese, ¼ cup diced cucumber and ¼ cup pomegranate seeds. Dress with 1 tablespoon Italian dressing.

Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.89, 493 calories, 22g fat, 59g carbs, 14g protein.

Deli Salad with Turkey, Asparagus, & Avocado

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Quality ingredients don’t need much messing with – like in this quick and easy Deli Salad. I love arranging salads in this style, with ingredients side by side, because it is so visually appealing. As they say, we eat with our eyes first!

You can mix this up with ingredients that appeal to you or serve it over mixed greens as a traditional salad. To store and transport for lunch, wrap each ingredient individually in plastic bags or containers and arrange when you’re ready to eat. This is a great quick post work-out meal when you want to feel healthy and light.

Deli Salad with Turkey, Asparagus, & Avocado

Steam or boil 5 asparagus spears for about 5 minutes. Slice 1 medium tomato and dice ¼ avocado. Arrange asparagus, tomato, and avocado on a plate with 3 slices deli turkey and 1 ounce shaved parmesan. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $4.56, 300 calories, 16g fat, 23g carbs, 22g protein.

Leftovers Salad

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I left yesterday for my family’s annual vacation on Cape Cod. Almost every summer that I can remember we’ve vacationed on the Cape, spending days on the beach and evenings enjoying each other’s company. Ice cream is always involved.

This year there are 9 of us – my dad, my brother and three sisters, significant others, and me. We have a lovely red house off of Main Street in Chatham within walking distance of the baseball field and our favorite candy store. We’ve already made a few delicious meals, so you can expect more vacation posts in the weeks ahead.

Before I leave for vacation (or any extended period of time, for that matter) I try to eat (or freeze) all of the food in my fridge. I desperately avoid wasting food, so when this salad came together perfectly with the leftovers in my fridge I couldn’t help but share.

I don’t have a perfect recipe for this one but you can probably get the idea from the picture. It’s a bed of mixed greens with half a tomato, a cucumber (fresh from my deck garden), shredded carrot, very thinly sliced jalapeno (also from the garden), chopped onion, fried tofu, and – my favorite salad accessory – farro. I dressed it with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.

Shrimp, Watermelon & Cucumber Salad

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In the elevator on my way to work last week, one of my coworkers asked me what recipes were coming up on CLK. I started describing this salad, which I made for dinner the night before and packed for lunch that day. When I got to the shrimp and watermelon part, he gave me a look (in a bad way). “I’m sure it’s good,” he said, “But I never thought of that combination.” Another male coworker in the elevator agreed – this sounded like a weird recipe.

I was a little taken aback and went on to explain that many other people before me had combined shrimp and watermelon. If I hadn’t already thoroughly enjoyed the salad for dinner, I may have been alarmed by our elevator interaction. The story was entirely different when lunch rolled around and I found myself enjoying this salad with a few female coworkers. They loved it and couldn’t wait to see it here on CLK.

It may just be that this one is for the ladies. What do you think?

Shrimp, Watermelon & Cucumber Salad

Spray a small saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Season ½ pound of shrimp with ½ teaspoon creole seasoning. If you don’t have creole seasoning, try using a seasoning mix with a little kick – or, stick with traditional salt and pepper.

When the saucepan is warm, add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes on each side until pink. Meanwhile, cut 1.5 cups watermelon into bite-sized (about 1 inch) pieces. I used a melon-baller, which makes the whole process much easier and cleaner, especially when cutting watermelon on the rind. Cut 1 medium cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Keeping the skin on, cut into bite sized pieces about the same size as the watermelon.

For the dressing, mix the juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons agave nectar (or honey if you don’t have it), and 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Toss the cucumber and watermelon with 3 cups mixed greens and 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese. Divide onto two plates (or Tupperware – keep reading for storage tips), top with shrimp, drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

To pack this salad for lunch, put the watermelon on the bottom of your container. It will release some water over the day, so it’s best to keep it on the bottom rather than on top of the greens. On top of the watermelon, add the cucumbers, then the greens, and top it off with the feta. Carry the dressing separately, or get these amazing containers that my roommate brought home!

Yield: 2 servings. Per Serving: $6.36, 257 calories, 6g fat, 25g carbs, 29g protein.