Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spoon Me Up

Spoons are underrated.

Eating salad with a spoon is the new thing (in my kitchen at least). When you pack a salad with lots of little goodies like beans, corn, chopped veggies, etc, chop everything up and use shredded lettuce. Scoop it all up with a big spoon, and you will be sure to get a taste of everything in each delicious bite.

Now, I have a little something to say about salads. Some unsolicited advice, if you will...

I have been eating salads since I was 10 years old and was on my 25 pound weight loss journey. Salads can be a very satisfying way of filling you up with a variety of good-for-you foods. On the other hand, they can be a horrible trap, packing in a thousand calories when you include all the cheese, dressing and other toppings. Here is a little checklist of things you need to be on the lookout for when ordering a salad at a restaurant:

Creamy dressings - 2 tablespoons of a thick dressing (which is a serving size) can cost you more calories than everything else in the salad combined. Tip: If you must have the creamy fatty dressing, order it on the side, and use less than half of it on your salad. If it is not enough (I suspect it should be if you spread it out), supplement it with a lighter dressing, some vinegar or avocado.

Cheese - Flavorful cheeses go a long way. Avoid mild cheeses (like mozzarella) that need to be piled on to make a difference. Instead, stick with cheeses like feta, goat cheese, blue cheese or parmesan with rich sharp flavors; you don't need very much to make in impact so use them sparingly.

Nuts - Nuts are good for you, but they are still packed with calories and fat. They are a great addition to a salad to add some real substance to keep you full for a long time, but they should be enjoyed in moderation. You should also be careful about the word, "candied" when it comes to nuts. Avoid candied nuts altogether when you are eating a salad. Candy is for dessert.

Meat - Don't use salad as an excuse to order chicken fingers at a restaurant. If you wish to order something as bad for you as fried chicken, you are better off ordering just the fried chicken with a side salad or side of veggies. Disguising chicken tenders in a salad costume will only encourage you to eat more of them. A better option is grilled chicken, steak or even some kind of fish to add substance and protein to your salad. There are plenty of ways to spice up the meat on your salad (e.g. see my almond crusted tilapia which is ever so lightly fried and then baked - also the recipe below uses hot sauce to add bursts of flavor to the grilled chicken).

The following list (provided by include some salad you may want to think twice about before ordering at a restaurant, mainly because if you order one of these, you might as well eat a burger and fries (not gonna lie, burger/fries = ultimately more delicious than any salad):

Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad (1390 calories / 89 grams of fat)
Ruby Tuesday's Carolina Chicken Salad (1,129 calories/71 grams fat)
Chili's Southwestern Cobb Salad – 1,080 calories/71 grams
Chili's Boneless Buffalo Chicken Salad – 1,070 calories/77 grams
Quiznos Roasted Chicken Flatbread Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing – 1,070 calories/71 grams fat
Quiznos Chicken Caesar Flatbread Salad – 1,020 calories/69 grams fat
Macaroni Grill Chicken Florentine Salad – 1,020 calories/17 grams
Baja Fresh Charbroiled Steak Tostada Salad – 1,230 calories/63 grams fat

I like to make salads that I can pig out on or eat as much as I want guilt free. Now here is a salad you can feel about eating:

Southwestern Spoon Salad:

1 package shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small can golden corn (drained thoroughly, about 7.5 oz)
1 can black beans, drained thoroughly
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
light ranch dressing (you need very little for this salad since it has so much flavor on its own)
handful of shredded cheese (any kind - optional, and not even needed in my opinion)
handful of chopped cilantro
1 avocado, sliced
2 chicken breasts, cooked, cubed
hot sauce

Cook the chicken however you like (grill, bake, chop and pan fry).
Once the chicken is coooked and shredded (or cubed) transfer to a large ziploc bag. Add some hot sauce and shake the bag to coat the chicken lightly (use as much or as little as you want. I definitely used way too much! I suggest you add it little by little so you can always stop when you feel you have used enough. If you do not like hot sauce, you can switch it out for bar-b-q sauce which also makes for a nice southwest flavor).
In a large glass dish, layer 1/2 of the lettuce, tomatoes, corn, black beans, peppers, onions and chicken (reserving a little of each ingredient for the top as well).
Top it all with the rest of the lettuce, the reserved bits of each ingredient and the shredded cheese (if using). The spread out some avocado slices and sprinkle with cilantro.
You may or may not need dressing, but if you do...go with light ranch!

Eat out of a huge bowl with a big spoon. And since you are being so good, throw in a couple tortilla chips :]

1 comment:

The Boston Lady said...

OMG. I am so guilty of eating that Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad. Darn it! I love the sound of this one minus the avocados. I'm still not California-enuf to like those! This sounds delish and will be on my list of things to try after "the trip". You are the best!

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