Eat a lunchtime salad! It’s good for you!
I know, lunchtime salads are boring: greens, some additional veggies for good measure, dressing, and maybe some crunchy croutons if you’re feeling adventurous. I agree! Salads are boring and mundane.
….Enter the CHOPPED SALAD!
Seriously, this is not a new, amazing discovery. In fact, the first Chopped Salad appeared as early as 1956 in Beverly Hills’ upscale La Scala Italian restaurant, where the chef, Jean Leon, prepared meals for his celebrity friends.
Chef Leon crafted a chopped salad to be consumed without mess and the risk of messy salads falling on tuxedos and formal gowns. Full of flavor in every bite, even capable fo being eaten with a spoon, Chopped Salads were so bursting with flavor, it was a salad of “crave and come back for more proportions.” In no time, the Chopped Salad became a celebrity-driven phenomenon.
Let’s be honest, Chopped salads are actually regular salads going “incognito,” with a different arrangement. Instead of a predictable layering effect, the salad ingredients are simply chopped into similar, bite-sized pieces… greens and all, and incorporated together instead of the typical salad, in which the ingredients really don’t intermingle. It’s a slight shift, but one that provides a great deal of variety, and for the last few years the chopped salad has become a popular option.
THE SALAD DILEMMA
One problem…Chopped salads cost a small fortune and can also become yet another imposter for healthy fare. You’d be smart to opt for your own Chopped Salad and make your own at home. It’s so easy, healthy, and fast! Why not!!?
Consider this, the typical lunchtime meal rings in around 200-600 calories. Frozen entrees and fast food alike are rich with calories, artificial ingredients, or the triad of flavor: sodium, fat, or sugar, but both are largely void of nutrients that keep you healthy and lean.
Unfortunately, salads can also fall in that category….high in calories but no real nutrients!
And while a salad might seem like the healthier choice, it’s not always true.
You might start with a plateful of greens, but please know restaurants maximize net profit, so even salads and healthy greens are treated with preservatives for a longer shelf life. Once cheese, dressing, animal protein, eggs, croutons, and dried fruits show up, you very well could be consuming two to three times as many calories, unhealthy fats, and sugars than if you had decided to go with a grilled fast food sandwich or a Lean Frozen meal!
THE BEST SALAD CHOICE
Your healthiest option is preparing a fresh salad at home to control the quality, preparation, and quantities of ingredients. And, a Chopped Salad gives you the biggest flavor explosion, since you get a little bit of everything in one bite! And, if you’ve done even just a little of bit of food prep and used a Mason Jar Salad approach, you are set with Chopped Salads for the week!
6 STEPS TO BUILD YOUR LUNCHTIME CHOPPED SALAD
SECRET TRICK: Each item should be chopped into bite-sized pieces, including the greens! This one simple step elevates your salad, because it allows the flavors to meld for one single bite of yumminess! Select 5-6 different textures and flavors that complement and contrast each other with a bold, acidic dressing. This balance can take some practice, so use my Favorite Chopped Salad to ease into your own creation.
- SELECT AND CHOP YOUR GREENS: choose from dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula, bok choy)
- SELECT AND CHOP YOUR HARD VEGGIES: choose from favorites such as broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots, and onions.
- ADD CHOPPED PROTEIN: favorites include chickpeas, tofu, lentils, peas, kidney beans, white, or black beans, quinoa, bulgur wheat.
- CHOOSE AND CHOP FRUITS: select one or two fruits such as fresh berries, mango, peach, cucumber, red peppers, olives, avocado, tomatoes (yes, those last 5 really are fruit!)
- ADD HEALTHY FATS: fats add flavor, melding, and nutrient absorption. Think oils (olive, avocado, or coconut), seeds or nuts (such as sunflower, flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin, walnut, almonds, pecans)
- TOP WITH VINEGAR and SPICES: sweet salads use apple cider, citrus juice, or strawberry vinegars, whereas savory salads taste great with rice, balsamic, and red wine vinegar. Enjoy a sprinkle of garlic, Italian seasonings, pink salt, and pepper.
FAVORITE CHOPPED SALAD
This recipe is our family’s favorite. I hope you enjoy it too.
**Vinaigrette can be prepared separately in a mason jar and kept refrigerated to dress before serving your salad (or kept for later in the week). Greens will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days without being dressed with oil and vinegar.
Serves 4-6, Prep Time: 15 minutes
- 3 c dark, leafy greens (I used about 3/4 of a 5oz container, Organic Girl Supergreens)
- 1/2 English cucumber
- 1/2 c broccoli (stems and florets)
- 1 c coursely chopped onions (green, red, or yellow)
- 1 c halved grape tomatoes
- 1/2 c sliced garlic stuffed olives (I used Santa Barbara Hand Stuffed Garlic Olives)
- 1/4 c salted almonds or pine nuts, packaged or make your own (I prefer to start with sliced or slivered raw almonds, and toast/salt my own ahead of time)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp balsamic
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- pink salt, Italian seasonings, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste
- Chop greens, cucumber, broccoli, and onions into bite-sized pieces.
- Halve the tomatoes and slice olives.
- Toast nuts by warming a small drizzle of olive oil in a pan, over medium low heat. Add almonds and sprinkle with pink salt. Watch carefully and toss gently every few minutes until almonds are golden in color. Allow to cool before using.
- While nuts are toasting, mix greens, veggies, tomato and olives in a medium salad bowl.
- Drizzle salad with olive oil, vinegars and spices. Add cooled almonds, and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
- Serve immediately as a main salad or with a small 3 oz portion of your favorite protein (tofu, grilled chicken, shrimp, fish or a light sprinkle of feta or goat cheese)