Chopped Salad [Leaf-Eating 101]

If you’re anything like me, you probably enjoyed a some lovely meals yesterday, finely balanced between the essential food groups: Peeps marshmallows, champagne, deviled eggs, and good old ‘Murican casserole.  Or maybe you just ate your bodyweight in Reese’s peanut butter eggs.  I certainly made the most of Easter brunch and the opportunity to raid my little sister’s Easter basket.  However you went about it, I hope you went hard.

But if you’re like me, you’re probably craving something a little more…nourishing today.  I’m am not of the mindset that you need to “make up for” indulgences or less-than-nutritious meals in any way.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, so eat a damn burger and get on with it.  At the same time, I can tell when my body is running well on nutritious food, and I really like that feeling.  I also really like good food.  So if I can make nutritious food taste fabulous, then it’s an all-around win: I feel good, I enjoy what I’m eating, and my poor little pancreas doesn’t succumb to diabetes.

One of my favorite healthy meals is salad…except this is not your typical salad.  See, we all know that green leafy things like spinach and kale are “superfoods” and “nutritional powerhouses”  (sidenote: I hate those buzzwords), but I absolutely cannot stand eating a plateful of leaves.  First of all, it makes me feel like a baby dinosaur.  Second of all, it tastes like dirt.  (Being that I am not a baby dinosaur, I am not a fan of leaves that taste like dirt.)  Still, knowing that these greens are actually great for my health, I force myself to find ways to enjoy them.  Often, I’ll blend them into a smoothie.  Other times, since I like to, you know, chew my food, I throw them in a salad.  More specifically, a chopped salad.  Chopped salads are far superior to normal salads because everything well mixed and they’re much easier to eat – you don’t have to try to shovel full-size leaves down your gullet, you can just pick up a forkful (or spooonful?) of chopped goodness.  And let’s be real, mama wants to use her finite brainpower to scour PubMed’s archives, not to figure out how to fit half a head of spinach in her mouth.

So here’s a simple little chopped salad “how to,” in case you feel like enjoying a meal that is slightly more nutritious than Peeps and Schlossberg (but arguably just as tasty).

Chopped Salad 

Basically, you’re going to throw some tasty things of your choosing into a bowl with edible leaves and then chop it all up.
[For more detailed instructions, keep reading.]

What you should include:

  • green leafy things – your choice: spinach, kale, butter, chard, romaine, cabbage, broccoli slaw, or a mix
  • protein – chicken, steak, turkey, bison, salmon, tilapia, etc. (whatever you choose should be ground or roughly chopped before mixing and more chopping happens)
  • fat – avocado, nuts, cheese (feta, bleu, parm, etc.)
  • vegetables and herbs – sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, cilantro, roasted squash, carmelized onions (or raw), chopped carrots, jalapenos, etc.
  • dressing – oil+vinegar, oil+lemon, or dressing of your choice (but sometimes the goodies are enough and you don’t even need dressing!)
  • optional: beans, rice, croutons, dried cranberries, etc. (if you include these, add them after chopping.)

 

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Before…

What you should do:

  • Throw everything  in a round metal bowl except dressing and optional items (if using).
  • Grab a pizza cutter.  (I’ve found special “chopped salad cutters” on Amazon, but those suckers run around $25.  This redneck way of going about it works just fine and leaves you $25 extra to spend on tasty things that you can actually eat.)
  • Holding the bowl steady with your free hand, run the pizza cutter back and forth through the bowl.  Change angles and really make sure everything gets chopped up nice and tiny (or to your liking).
  • [For safety reasons, I’d suggest wearing an oven mitt on the hand holding the bowl.]
  • Toss with dressing, etc.
  • Go. To. Town.  Seriously, don’t even bother putting it on a plate.  Time is of the essence when you’re hungry.
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…and after.

I know it may not seem like much, but a chopped salad truly tastes 20x better than a regular old “lettuce-heaped-on-a-plate-with-other-things-heaped-on-top” type of salad…Which means I’m 20x more likely to eat it.

And those aren’t bad leaf-eating odds for someone who’s not a baby dinosaur.

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