Tag Archives: healthy

Six yummy salads with chicken

bacon-egg-salad-cu-500
It’s summer, and that means salad! Now that you know how to make easy roasted chicken breasts, here are six of my favorite salads with chicken breast:

salads with chicken - club salad

Orange-cranberry chicken salad

salads with chicken - Asian chicken salad
30-second Caesar salad — shown here with deli turkey, but you could make it with shredded or thinly sliced chicken, too.
salads with chicken - Almost-Panera's Asian chicken salad
Do you have a favorite salad that uses already-cooked chicken?

Places to eat in Wichita: Tanya’s Soup Kitchen

tanya-s-interior
Tanya's Soup Kitchen - chicken salad

Tanya’s Soup Kitchen is more than soup: there’s sandwiches and salads, too. Everything (except the bread) is made fresh on site, and the dishes all strike a nice balance between the creative and the comfortably familiar. Nothing is run-of-the-mill, but nothing is frou-frou, either. It’s nice for our gluten-sensitive friends that they offer gluten-free bread options, and the staff seems to understand the accommodations that need to be made for such folks.

The interior is sunny and open, with a casual cafe vibe. You stand in line to order, and your food is brought to the table.

Today I enjoyed the “Ella,” shown at the top of this post. (That’s a small. You can also order large.) It’s a chicken salad with cashews, dried cherries, and fresh herbs on mixed greens, with your choice of dressing. The dressing on the chicken is very light; no gloppy mayo here. I went with the herb vinaigrette; it was nice and light, with a perfect balance between sweet and tart. The herbs complemented the blend, but no herb was so prominent that it overwhelmed the flavor.

I also got a “small” soup…

…which would be a “bowl” in any other restaurant! Today, I opted for their creamy tomato dill soup. It’s so popular, they offer it every day, year-round. And I can see why. It’s delish! It’s also quite sweet. I’m sure there must be some sugar in there, so for health’s sake, I didn’t eat the whole thing. But I would have liked to!

Their salads are reasonably priced — ranging from $3.50 to $7.00 for a small, $4.50 to $9.00 for a large — but personally, I think their sandwiches are a little overpriced; $9 for whole; $7.75 for half.

Overall, a quite enjoyable lunch!

Tanya’s Soup Kitchen website

Tanya's Soup Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Salmon with fresh tomato-avocado salsa

Salmon with fresh tomato avocado - Paleo, Whole30
(Update, 5/2015: I first posted this recipe in April, 2012, and it’s still in our regular summer menu rotation. The true test of a good recipe! Salmon, avocado, tomato – such a great combination! I’ve updated it now to make it Whole30 compliant and Paleo friendly. All it took was subbing out pine nuts for the sweet corn. Also recommended: use the larger the avocado amount.)
This is so simple, and so yummy, it’s gonna knock your socks off!
The star of this dish is the salsa. It’s so delicious! My husband took leftovers of just the salsa to work for lunch today (I made extra) and when he came home, he said, “If you would make some more of that I’d be very, very happy.”
I had a bit of leftover salmon with the salsa on it for lunch, too; cold — straight out of the fridge. It was still good!
This is based on a recipe from All Recipes, but I prefer butterflying and broiling the salmon, to the nuke-and-serve-cold method in the original recipe. Alternatively, you could grill the salmon; that would be fab, too!
I used white corn because it’s got a little better carb-to-protein ratio, but I think yellow corn makes a prettier dish. NOTE: To make this dish Paleo/Whole30 compliant, just omit the corn, or sub 2 T. pine nuts. (My husband actually preferred this change.) And use the larger amount of avocado.

Recipe: Salmon with fresh tomato-avocado salsa   

Servings: 3-4
1 cup chopped fresh tomato, chopped into about 1/4″ pieces for salsa; 1/2″ or larger for salad
1/4 cup minced red onion (a fine dice, or slivers)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 T. olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 to 1 whole Hass avocado, chopped into about 1/4″ pieces for salsa; 1/2″ for salad
1/2 cup corn (OR 2 T. pine nuts, for Whole30/Paleo compliance)
1.25 lbs. salmon fillets
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil for drizzling
Chop up the tomato, avocado, garlic, onion, and cilantro. (Note: If you’re prepping this ahead of time, save the avocado cutting until right before serving.) To dice the avocado, you cut through it like this, leaving the skin intact, then scoop it out with a spoon.
If you want more detail, see Simply Recipes’ walk-through. (I do NOT recommend the pit removal method they show in step 2b; a woman I know cut some tendons in her hand trying that trick.)
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients from tomato through vinegar. (This photo shows the avocado added already, but now I always put it in at the very end, to avoid browning. When using pine nuts rather than corn, I also add them at the last, to keep them crunchy.)
avocado, tomato salsa
Refrigerate at least two hours.
Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

How to butterfly salmon

If your salmon is already a fairly consistent thickness, you don’t need to butterfly it. The purpose of butterflying salmon is to make it all about the same thickness, so that it cooks more evenly. It also cuts down on oven time.
Put your salmon on a cutting board, skin side down. (Mine is already in the baking pan in these pics, but it will be easier to work on a cutting board; you don’t have to maneuver around the rim of the pan.) Start by making a guide mark: in the thickest point of the fillet, use the tip of your knife to mark the spot exactly halfway from top to bottom.
The black line in the pic below shows where your knife edge will enter; the white dashed line shows where you will cut. The cut should run right through your halfway mark.
On the thinnest end of the salmon, slide your knife in parallel to the cutting board, and at the same height as your halfway mark. Continue to cut, keeping your knife parallel to the cutting board. Stop about 3/4″ away from the opposite edge; do NOT cut all the way through.
If you have been working on the cutting board, move your salmon to the foil-lined pan now. Next, open the sliced salmon up like it’s a book, folding the top piece out so it lays former-top-side down.
Repeat with the other fillet(s), season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.
Broil 4-6″ from the heat. Now is the time to dice your avocado and add it (and the pine nuts) to the salsa.
The salmon is done when it flakes easily w/ a fork, about 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. (That is, the thickness after you butterflied it.)
Remove the salmon from the skin; plate in serving-sized pieces. Add the avocado and pine nuts to the salsa and spoon it onto the salmon.
Salmon, avocado, tomato - yum!
Here’s what the Paleo version looks like:
paleo whole30 salmon with avocado salsa

Try it — I think you’ll love it! 🙂

Herb-crusted salmon

herb-crusted-salmon-cookbook
Herb-crusted salmon - the original recipe

This recipe evolved from a similar dish in one of my favorite cookbooks, Weber’s Art of the Grill. (Which is now out of print, but you can still find used copies on Amazon.) You can grill it if you like, or broil it in the oven. The herbs get nice and crispy as they cook, and marry together in a wonderful, savory complement to the flavor of the salmon. Over the years, I’ve come to just throw it together by memory, and I tend to put in quite a bit more herbs than the original called for. (The recipe that follows is my version.)

It involves a little bit of herb chopping, but if you want, you can let your food processor do that. Then, it’s just stir, spread, and broil or grill. So easy!

Recipe: Herb-crusted salmon

Serves 2.

1 lb. salmon fillet
1 handful of fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1 handful of fresh parsley, ditto
1 handful of fresh basil, ditto (or about a tablespoon of dried)
2 T. olive oil
1 t. soy sauce
1/2 t. chili powder (or ancho chili powder)
1/4 t. kosher salt
pepper to taste

Preheat your grill or broiler (whichever you’re using). If using the oven, place the top rack about 6″ from the heat.

If using a broiler, coat a 9 x 13″ pan with cooking spray, a generous brushing of canola oil, or line the bottom with foil.

Chop all of the herbs coarsely and put them in a small bowl. They don’t need to be finely minced, because they will shrink some and get crispy as they cook. Here’s the cilantro, before and after.

chopped cilantro

Add in the 2 T. olive oil, the soy sauce, and chili powder, and stir till everything is well combined.

Lay your salmon skin side down in the baking pan (or on whatever surface you’ll use to transfer it to the grill). Scoop the herb mixture on top of the salmon, and spread it around into a thick, fairly consistent layer. There will be bits of salmon showing through here and there; that’s okay.

Herb-crusted salmon, in the making

Once the herb mixture is on, sprinkle it lightly with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to your liking. You don’t need much salt, because the chunks are big and will be the first thing to hit your tongue. (I highly recommend kosher salt, but if you’re using regular salt, use half as much.)

Herb-crusted salmon close-up

For the grill: Place the fish herb side down on the grate. I know, it seems wrong! You think all the herbs will fall off, but trust me. A few may fall off, but most of them don’t! Our propane grill instructions say to turn the three burners to medium/off/medium. Do what works best on your particular grill. Close grill and cook that side for half the total cooking time. When it’s half through, flip it herb side up, and cook until it’s done.

For the broiler: Place the baking pan — with the fish herb side up — in the oven. Bake it there for five minutes, then move the rack down one row to complete cooking.

Herb-crusted salmon

Your total cooking time should be 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part.

When is it done? I’ll repeat an earlier posting… “A minute or two before the recommended time, check your fish. Just poke a fork gently into the side at a thick place, and pull it up a bit to see if it flakes easily. You can also pull up just enough to see the interior of the fish, and see if it’s done to your liking. Some people like their salmon a bit rare, so that it’s orangey-er on the inside. Not me: I like it just done all the way through, but just so — not overdone and dry.”

Then remove from the heat, slide a spatula between the skin and the fish, and slip it onto your serving plate, herb side up.

Once you’ve tried this, feel free to experiment with your choice of herbs and spices. Let me know how it comes out!

You might also like:
Ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema
Slightly spicy slaw
Green beans and pine nuts

Seven-layer dip as salad

7-layer-dip-salad-oh-500

I love seven-layer dip — sometimes called taco dip — and the dip itself is a pretty low carb treat. Plus, it’s got some decidedly healthy ingredients: avocado (15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat, plus potassium and vitamins C and K); tomatoes (lycopene, vitamins A and C); and the beans are a good source of iron and fiber — though they’re often made with trans fats. But the chips for dipping are not healthy in any way!

So I thought this would be another great dish to make into a salad on a romaine spear. (Which I’ve done before. More than once.)

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a guideline. The base is a heart-of-romaine leaf, and you’ll probably want two to four for each person. This makes a great “assemble yourself” meal, letting everyone customize their own.

Just lay the leaf on the serving plate and smear it with your choice of one or more items from this list:
– refried beans (or just used canned beans for a later layer)
– ready-made guacamole
– sour cream or Greek yogurt, plain or mixed with taco seasoning

Then top that with your choices of:
– canned beans, rinsed and drained; pinto and/or black
– shredded cheese: monterrey jack, cheddar, queso fresca, or a mix
– chopped tomatoes
– diced bell pepper
– sliced green onion or diced red onion
– sliced black olives
– minced cilantro

As you can see, this can end up being more than seven layers — or less — depending on your taste and/or what you have on hand.

Here’s mine:

Seven-layer dip as a hand-held salad

You might also like:
Make-ahead Tex-Mex salad
Chicken club salad with creamy balsamic vinaigrette
Ginger-peanut salad dressing for Asian salad

Ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema

chili-rubbed-salmon-be-500

This dish is delish — I mean, truly restaurant-worthy — but it’s also super easy and totally healthy.

I have to give the hubs partial credit for this one.

I had made this spice-rubbed salmon for dinner one night, but hadn’t really figured out a vegetable to go with it, and Eric was doing Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet (which is NO carbs), so I served the salmon with some romaine spears alongside and some ready-made guacamole to dip them in.

But instead of using the guacamole as dip, he put it on top of his salmon — and loved the combination!

Since then, I’ve evolved the recipe a bit. I started out with a recipe called “Broiled BBQ-spiced Rubbed Salmon,” from The Sonoma Diet Cookbook, but I’ve tweaked the spice combo each time I’ve made it, and I was really happy with the way it came out this last time I made it.

For the guacamole, I use Wholly Guacamole brand, and it comes in these boxes that contain individual-use packets. Which is just brilliant! If you just need a bit for a recipe, or you just want a quick easy snack, these are the perfect size, without the risk of the rest of batch turning brown before you can use it. I use the “Classic,” but they also make a “Spicy” version.

Recipe: Ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema

2 8-oz. salmon fillets, about 1″ thick
1/2 T. ancho chili powder
1/2 T. paprika or smoked paprika
1/2 t. kosher salt (or 1/4 t. table salt)
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. ground cumin
2 T. olive oil
1 2-oz. packet of guacamole (that’s one two-ounce packet, not a 12-ounce packet)
2 oz. Greek yogurt (or sour cream, or dairy-free yogurt)
optional, for garnish: diced red onion

You will preheat the broiler later in the recipe.

If the salmon still has its skin, remove it. (Here’s a short video that shows how. Here’s a more detailed one. The directions for the filet start at about 3:00 in this video.)

Measure the thickness of the salmon at its thickest point. You want to be accurate to within 1/4″. To do this, I push a toothpick into the thickest point of the salmon, then pinch the toothpick so my thumb and finger just touch the top of the fish. Then, keeping my fingers in the same place on the toothpick, I remove it from the fish and move it to a measuring stick. Make a mental note of the measurement. (Or a written note, if you have a short memory.)

Drizzle the olive oil in the pan, then spread it around. This recipe is for two servings, and for that I use a 6 x 8″ baking pan, but for more servings, you’ll need a larger pan. This photo is post-drizzled, but pre-spread:

Mix together all of the spices in a small dish. Before you begin to season the salmon, fold any super-thin edges under (or over) so that the thin part is doubled, and the fillet is a fairly uniform thickness across, like this.

Just press it down a little with your fingers; the fish is a bit sticky, so it will sort of adhere to itself.

Next, sprinkle half of the seasoning mix over the top side of both fillets. Pat the spices gently onto the fish.

Then turn them over and season the other side, using the rest of the spice mix.

Move your top oven rack to 4 to 6″ below the broiler, and preheat broiler. Let the spiced salmon sit at room temp while the broiler heats up. Then place them in the oiled pan, folded side down, and put the pan in the oven.

Remember your fish thickness in inches? Now’s when it matters! Cook your salmon for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. So if your salmon is 3/4″ thick, cook it for 7.5 minutes. 1″ thick: 10 minutes. 1.25″ thick, 12.5 minutes. And, turn it over once, half way through baking.

While the salmon is cooking, mix together the guacamole and the yogurt. I don’t bother to measure the yogurt; I put the guac in first, then just “eyeball” the yogurt so that it looks like about the same amount.

Stir till well combined, and set aside.
Have you turned the salmon over halfway through the baking time? Don’t forget!
If you’re using diced onion for garnish, now would be a good time to dice it.
A minute or two before the recommended time, check your fish. Just poke a fork gently into the side at a thick place, and pull it up a bit to see if it flakes easily. You can also pull up just enough to see the interior of the fish, and see if it’s done to your liking. Some people like their salmon a bit rare, so that it’s orangier on the inside. Not me: I like it just done all the way through, but just so — not overdone and dry. (If you or someone in your house doesn’t like salmon, it’s possible they’ve only had it when it was overcooked, dry and mealy. Yuck! Who wouldn’t hate that?!)
So when the salmon is done to your liking, pull it from the oven, put it on serving plates, and top with the guacamole mixture. Sprinkle diced onion on top, add your side dish, and serve.
Ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema
This time, I did plan for my side dish: French-cut green beans (from frozen), steamed, and topped with sauteed onions and crispy bacon. The smokey note in the spice crust of the salmon played nicely with the slightly-smokey bacon. There’s a dish dressed to impress!

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Eat your oatmeal, get diabetes

maple-brown-sugar-oatmeal
Okay, I confess. That headline is a bit of an exaggeration.

Unless you’re eating a sugared-up instant oatmeal, and not balancing out those 32 grams of carbs with an equal amount of protein — say, a half a dozen eggs, or five slices of Canadian bacon. Then it’s very little exaggeration at all.

Yeah, I hear ya. “But I thought oatmeal was health food!” Maybe some oatmeal, prepared certain ways, but this stuff? You might as well have Twizzlers for breakfast.

Seriously…

1 packet of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal has:
157 calories
2 grams of fat
4 grams of protein
32 grams of carbohydrate ( incl 3 g fiber & 13 g added sugar)
Similar in macronutrient profile to:
4 Twizzlers, or
2 Fat Free Fudgesicle bars, or
a York Peppermint Patty.

I have a very personal reason for being so passionate about this.

My mom had Type 2 Diabetes, which some studies suggest doubles one’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Which my mom also developed.

For years she followed the low-fat diet recommended by the American Heart Association and the Diabetes Association. Her breakfast was usually a bowl of oatmeal, wheat toast with a spray of fake butter, fruit, and black coffee.

When she ate the low-fat, high-carb breakfast she thought was healthy, it would throw her blood sugar high, and she needed Metformin to bring it down. However, one day when she ate at my house and I served her a balanced breakfast, taking her Metformin made her blood sugar plummet to dangerous levels. (We ended up in the ER.) I often wonder if my she’d had a better understanding of carbs, sugars, insulin and health, if she could have avoided or forestalled Alzheimer’s.

It’s too late for her, but you still have time: Kick the corporate food! Shop in the produce section, buy lean meat, educate yourself about health! (Here’s a good place to start.)

To change your health, think outside the box.

(I’m indebted to HealthHabits and BalancedBites for the inspiration, some of the content and the first image in this post.)