Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Perfect Spring Salad

Spring has officially started! When the temperature starts climbing, there's one meal that always leaps back into my menu rotation. Salads. I'm addicted. Plus, what better way to pack in a few vegetable and fruit servings.

The issue is that salads aren't always the healthy meals that they portray themselves to be. If you're loading up iceberg lettuce with bacon, fried chicken, full fat dressings, cheese and croutons - the works so to speak, that seemingly healthy salad quickly becomes one of the worst options.

So, how can you have your lettuce and keep it healthy too? Start by choosing leafy greens; spinach, kale, romaine, arugula and mixed greens are all good choices. Next, add protein, other fruit/veggies and a "fun" topping. Remember, when building your salad, it's important to have a good protein source to keep you full after your meal and be sure to add other fruits/vegetables to bump up the fiber.

For this recipe, I rolled with romaine. It's a good source of folic acid, vitamin K and vitamin A and pairs well with the remaining ingredients. I chose roasted garbanzo beans and cheddar as my protein sources and rolled with apples for an extra nutrient punch. The spicy pecans add a kick and while they aren't the nutritional superstar of this recipe, they add the perfect amount of sweetness.

If my kitchen walls could talk: I love packing this salad for an easy work lunch. Simply pack lettuce in large containers and top with apple slices. If slicing apples ahead of time, I recommend tossing them in lemon juice or using fruit fresh.  Pack pecans, garbanzos and cheddar separately - I use these containers instead of plastic bags. Add hard boiled eggs for an extra protein boost.

My Spring Salad


1 1/3 cup pecans
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white pepper

1 can garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

2 bags leafy romaine
1 red delicious apple
1 granny smith apple
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Chop butter, set aside. Add pecans to pie dish, top with chopped butter. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. In a small bowl, combine sugar and white pepper, add pecans, stirring until coated. Remove pecans, set aside on large plate. Discard excess sugar mixture.
2. Rinse and drain garbanzo beans. Dry thoroughly with a paper towel. Add beans to small bowl, top with olive oil, stirring to combine. Next, add garlic powder, stirring to coat. Line a baking sheet with foil, pour beans onto baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes.
3.  Distribute salad into large bowl or small bowls for individual servings. Chop apples into 1/8th inch wedges. Top salad with apples, cheddar, roasted garbanzo beans and pecans. Serve immediately with your favorite salad dressing or refrigerate ingredients separately if serving at later date.    

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