June 26, 2013

Light & Filling: Salads

Where creativity, experimentation, & veggies are encouraged


Salads can help you get your daily dose of veggies and fiber, and there are so many different things you can add - the more colors, the better! If you had a heavy breakfast, a light salad for lunch may settle better in your stomach before afternoon practice. Similarly, if you don't like eating huge meals after workouts, salads are a great option for a nutritious and filling dinner that's easy on your tummy following afternoon practice. A balanced salad might include:

Greens: Lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale
Colorful veg: Bell peppers (red/orange/yellow/green), carrots, red onion, beets, cucumber, tomato, mushrooms, celery, etc.
Protein: Grilled chicken, tuna, turkey; Legumes (lentils, beans, peas) quinoa, tofu, cheese, Greek yogurt (great for Mexican-themed salads!)
Carbs: Legumes, cheese (people forget that lactose is a simple sugar), fresh fruit, dried fruit, WW croutons
Healthy fats (don't go crazy): Nuts, avocado, oil-based dressing
*These are just some examples of what you could include - it's totally up to you & what you like!

Trader Joe's has this peanut dressing that I fell deeply in love with really like, so this salad fit those flavors - a great example of how you can make a meal suit your own tastes and keep it healthy! Heads up about my first few posts: I'm not a particularly gifted photographer, and this is a practical blog, so my pics are a tad dull...if you wanna see fancy food pics, that's what Foodgawker and Pinterest are for. Anywho, this is what I used:
 Green onion, tomato, beets, red pepper, shredded carrot, red & green oak lettuce, cucumber

I didn't use everything on the plate - all those green onions would be nasty - it's just more aesthetically pleasing than only one of everything (at least I'm trying, guys). I added some avocado, almonds, and canned chicken as well, but kinda used 'em before I remembered to take a bad. To get your salad together:

1. Wash & dry lettuce (that's where a salad spinner comes in handy); cut/tear into bite-size pieces & add to bowl
2. Wash & dice pepper; add to bowl
3. Wash & chop cucumber, tomato, & green onion; add to bowl
4. The carrots were previously grated, but if you have whole carrots you can just wash & chop them, then add them to the salad.
5. The beets were bought pre-cooked & peeled, so I just had to chop 'em & throw 'em in the bowl.
6. Prep the avocado by first cutting in half vertically, then removing the pit. *Ripe avocados are not firm; they give a little when you press lightly, but shouldn't feel mushy. If your avocado is under-ripe, it's very difficult to get the pit out and the flesh is hard.* I think the easiest way to do this is to cut shallowly around the edge of the pit to loosen it from the surrounding 'cado, then WHAM! Forcefully - but cautiously - lodge a good-sized knife in the pit, and you should be able to lift it right out with a little bit of wiggling:

Getting the flesh out is super easy (and fun!). First, score one side into squares. You can then push out however much of the 'cado you want (I usually use half of a half, so 1/4 avocado total), but if you're a big guy or are making 2 salads and want to use the whole half, you can get the remaining flesh out by turning it inside out (similar to a method of mango prep). If the pieces don't fall off, you can separate them from the skin with your knife.

Finally, the protein! Who knew a post containing canned meat would show up so soon. If you've never dealt with this before, I included a pic of what the chicken looks like when you first open the can (top). I drained it (bottom) and separated the big chunks so it resembled shredded chicken instead of chicken chunks (wow, my language choice here is so appetizing). I dunno about you, but I don't like soggy/squishy meat, so I threw it in the pan with some chipotle seasoning to firm it up a bit and add some flavor. You don't need to add salt because it's added to the water to preserve the meat.

Below are some of my favorite dressings with my finished salad. I added a small handful of almonds (~13) and used the middle peanut vinaigrette, but if you like the taste of fresh produce, I strongly suggest rice vinegar. You don't need a lot because it's VERY strong and extremely salty, but it really brings out the natural flavors of the salad.

My final product with 1-2 Tbsp peanut dressing:

 I had leftover chicken & veg, which is great because it saves some time when prepping them for future snacks & meals. If you sauteed the chicken like I did, let it cool for about 15 mins before sticking it in the fridge. The veg can go straight in.


I hope you enjoyed this good eat & try out your own combinations!


Krissa said...

Hey Lizzie, do you ever make your own dressings? If nothing else, it would be a cool experiment for a future post!

Lizzie Briasco said...

Hi krissa! I've actually come across some really interesting dressing recipes and just keep forgetting to try them out. I will definitely try making some in the near future using a blender similar to the one I have down at uni & post about it! Thanks for the comment!