This is not a health blog, and not everything I eat is healthy. I can own that. Good health for me is all about moderation. I eat everything, but it’s balanced and I eat a lot of salads. I am a big believer in “eating the rainbow“. All those brightly colored vegetables offer amazing nutrients that honestly make me feel healthy just preparing them.
This is what I call a chopped chicken protein salad, and is a salad I make frequently at home when in a hurry. This simple salad is one of the most uncomplicated salads I make. And while I do make a homemade lemon-thyme vinaigrette, this salad is really about assembling nutritious ingredients that happen to be healthy and filling.
The Importance of Fiber
Salads are really a fantastic and easy way to add more vegetables and fiber to your diet, however, without a substantial amount of protein they can easily leave you unsatisfied and, even worse, hungry. Because protein is the most satiating macronutrient, including protein, of some kind, in every meal is a great way to balance your blood sugar, minimize cravings and keep you feeling full for hours.
Protein Punch Options by Grams
- 3 ounce serving of cooked chicken breast = 26 grams
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds = 15 grams
- 1 cup feta cheese = 21 grams
- 2 hard boiled eggs = 12.6 grams
- 2 slices of bacon = 6 grams
- 3 ounces crab meat = 16.4 grams
- 3 ounces of tofu = 8.4 grams
- 3 ounces of Tempeh = 15.3 ounces
- 3/4 cup cooked black beans = 11.4 grams
- 3/4 cups cooked lentils = 13.4 grams
- 1 cup quinoa = 8 grams
Protein aside, if healthy is your main focus, my best advise is make your own salad dressing. A vinaigrette, even a homemade ranch, is substantially better for you, with significantly less sugar and calories than almost any store-bought one you can find. And believe it or not, store bought salad dressings are actually considered processed foods, most people don’t even realize that. So the takeaway, don’t skimp on you, because you’re worth it.
Chopped Chicken Protein Salad
- For the Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 spring fresh thyme, leave removed
- For the Salad:
- 6-8 cups mixed greens
- 2 cups shredded roasted, grilled or boiled chicken
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup Persian cucumber, cut lengthwise and sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Step 2 For the Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves, whisk well to blend and set aside.
- Step 3 Place the sunflower seeds on a baking sheet, place in the oven and bake until toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
- Step 4 For the Salad: to each serving bowl add: some mixed greens, chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, pepperoncini, feta cheese and toasted sunflower seeds. Drizzle with the lemon vinaigrette and serve.
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