Fit Kitchen - Fat Wallet: Mixed Greens Salad

First thing's first: I am neither a dietician nor an exercise physiologist.  I'm just a fitness enthusiast who has gained most of her knowledge through a combination of consulting with health experts, researching health topics, attending workshops centered on wellness, and my own trial and error.  I'm not exactly where I want to be physically, but I'm definitely far from where I started! 

In general, I know green salads to be healthy and nutritious as long as there is moderation with the additional toppings: protein, dressings, etc.  I recommend salads for weight loss and weight maintenance for sure.  I’ve seen plenty of articles perpetuating the message that you don’t need “boring” salads to be healthy, but why do people think salads are boring?  Not my salads, hmph!

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I have several bad habits that I'm working on right now, one of them being overspending on my weekday lunches. As I’ve said before, most of my issues are a result of poor decisions and procrastination.  I have every intention of bringing lunch to work on most days, but that kind of falls apart when I decide to try and pack a lunch in the morning vs at night. Go figure.

I’ve been living a pretty luxury salad life for a while. I’m always inquiring about which restaurants offer the best salads, and I think I’ve narrowed down some of the best ones close enough to my job to run to during the day.  A few days a week, I venture out and try a new salad. 

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with a divine mixed greens salad from the café up the street from my workplace.

It is heaven.

It is also $10.

I was updating my excel budget spreadsheet the other day, and I’m not sure about your pockets, but spending $40-$50 per week just to gobble down produce during a lunch break is an irresponsible expense for ME. 

It was then that I decided to buckle down and start making my own salads at home in an attempt to be more frugal, while still rewarding myself with a savory meal I deserve during my work day.  I'm now limiting myself to buying lunch 1-2 times a week.  Check out what I came up with for this week. 

Mrs. N's Poppin' Mixed Greens Salad

  • Crisp mixed greens (I prefer a mix of baby lettuce, baby greens, and radicchio)
  • A beautiful purple red onion
  • Vibrant red-orange grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Brined Chicken breasts (for max juiciness and tenderness)
  • Seasoning for chicken:  black pepper, paprika and garlic powder (add salt if you skip the brine)
  • Pungent Gorgonzola Cheese Crumbles
  • A Long Cucumber
  • Homemade vinaigrette (or store bought for the basics)
 
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So here's my spread (minus the apples, oranges, poinsettia, and toddler).  

Puttin' it all together

I brined my chicken breasts the day before for a few hours, and then baked them in the oven and sliced them up.  In the future, I think grilled chicken would taste better, but I don't have an indoor grill, so ain't no grilled chicken today. I highly recommend brining the chicken breasts because they have a tendency to get dry and rubbery. The brine helps the chicken to retain moisture.  The salt solution does make the chicken salty (just enough), so I'd advise rinsing the chicken and holding off on the salt before baking/cooking it.  

I purchased the cherry tomatoes, but I think I would've preferred the grape tomatoes. I read up on the differences between the 2,  and the cherry tomatoes are sweeter, while the grape tomatoes are more tangy.  I like tang.

Everything else was pretty straight forward.  I sliced up my cucumbers and onion, mixed them with my greens and tomatoes, and added a few tablespoons of the gorgonzola cheese, which is the real winner of this salad, with the red onion coming in at a solid second.  

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I made my vinaigrette with items I already had at home: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  All you need is olive oil and vinegar and some seasonings for a vinaigrette, so you may already have your dressing ingredients in stock too. 

Overall I was happy with my salad, and even happier with the cost savings!  All of my ingredients for the salad were roughly $20. These ingredients provided me with a week's worth of salads for lunch and even side salads to go with my family's dinners.  

I'm all about improving my palate so that I am more open to healthy options.  Five years ago, I would've never traded in my creamy Ranch or French dressings for a simple oil and vinegar dressing.  I used to always go for boring iceberg lettuce salads, and now that I've acquired a taste for more nutrient-dense veggies and onions, I'm reaping the nutritional benefits and  enjoying the additional flavor.  Trying new recipes has helped me to shed pounds and get in shape.

Fitness starts in the kitchen.