Category Archives: Salads

Barley & Kale Veggie Salad

 

Fall is the time for bumper crops of kale. As the current “It” vegetable, we know all about how healthy kale is for you. But even though kale chips are amazing, sauteed kale in greens makes a great side dish, and Zuppa Toscana is a definite crowd-pleasing soup, sometimes you need a new way to enjoy this power green. If you like light, fresh, great-cold-or-room-temp dishes, this baby’s a winner!

I’ve been meaning to try more grain and veggie salads, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. Kale is on sale for 0.99 per bunch, organic! You can’t pass up that kind of deal. So with a fridge full of kale and a hankering for something new, I made up this recipe. It turned out fabulous! The combination of tomato and cucumber and onion crunch with the soft cooked barley and fresh kale leaves is really addicting.

The best part about it? It makes a crap-ton, and per 2 cups is under 100 calories! So you can stuff yourself on this all you like and feel good about it. Have it for lunch, as an afternoon snack, before dinner to dull the appetite. There really isn’t a bad time for this.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, torn and stems removed
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cucumber, rinsed, skin-on, diced
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

Step 1: Cook the barley in 1 1/2 cups water by bringing to a boil, then lowering to a simmer. Cover, and cook 20-30 minutes, until all water is absorbed and barley is soft. Add more water if needed during cooking. Let cool.

 

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Step 2: Chop all your veggies and place in a large bowl. Mix the oil and vinegars, and salt & pepper if using. Pour over the veggies.

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Step 3: Combine the cooled barley with the veggies and mix well. Now you have a giant side dish, snacks all week, or a super healthy and vegetarian main course.

 

Steak Salad with Balsamic & Orange Dressing

 

Summer is meant for salads. Vegetables are fresh, lettuces are crisp, days are warm. Rather than turn on a hot stove or oven, a salad cools and refreshes. The possibilities for greens are endless, from plain Iceberg to hearty kale to spicy arugula to rainbow chard. On top of your crisp base you can build your masterpiece with any number of toppings.

Since I had recently purchased some steaks on sale, a steak salad seemed only natural. I had also recently procured some “Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar” from Trader Joe’s, which I had heard is delightful as a dressing. So I decided to test that claim. (Spoiler: they were right.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 thin steaks (1-2 oz)
  • 4 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Orange vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup torn Iceberg lettuce
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • Handful of banana pepper slices (optional)
  • Handful of Kalamata olives (optional)

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You can of course use whatever greens you prefer for the base of the salad. Just make sure you have a hearty plate full! Gotta get those vitamins and minerals.

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Step 1: In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the steaks with the balsamic vinegar for about 4 minutes per side, until cooked but not blackened. Don’t over-cook, you don’t want them tough like shoe leather.

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Step 2: Let the drippings in the pan cool, and add to a small bowl. Pour in the Orange vinegar and olive oil, whisk with a fork.

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Step 3: Slice the steak into thin strips. Coat a plate with the salad greens, sprinkle on the toppings, and the hot steak strips.

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Step 4: Whisk dressing once more, pour over the salad.

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And there you have it! A hearty, healthy fresh steak salad. Isn’t it pretty? You know you want one.

You will get a nice tang from the two different vinegars, while the umami of the balsamic and the sweetness from the orange muscat champagne balance each other. Adding the pan drippings creates a depth of meaty flavor. The olive oil provides healthy fat in order to absorb all the delicious nutrients in your salad.

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If you aren’t a salad person, or make extra steak and want a different way to eat the leftovers, try the steak strips in a burrito! The balsamic marinade is a perfect way to complement the meatiness of beef. Wrap it up in a tortilla with some beans, cheese, and sour cream (this is actually sour cream substitute, made from coconut milk! Tons less fat with no taste difference!) and enjoy.

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Mmmmm beef and beans and cheese… For the I’m-not-worried-about-healthy nights. =)

As always, make it your own. Don’t like balsamic? Use apple cider vinegar or Worchestershire instead. Don’t have orange muscat champagne? Try a tbsp or two of honey to sweeten it up. And top however you please. Have a healthy summer!

 

Quick Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette on a Hawaiian Salad

Salad is ubiquitously known as a diet super-staple. One can NEVER have too many leafy greens. I’m pretty sure it’s physically impossible to eat enough volume to overdose on any given nutrient in leafy greens (disclaimer: not fact-checked, just widely accepted opinion). But a bowl full of greens can get boring pretty fast. Even with the plethora of toppings and novel ingredients available, it’s important to dress your salad well. Just like a new pair of shoes, a new dressing can perk up a ho-hum meal. Making your own vinaigrette is easy and healthier than bottled dressings, because you determine what goes into it and can choose the freshest ingredients. Get a re-useable bottle and try it yourself! You’ll never go back once you realize how much fun you can have experimenting with different spices, flavors, vinegars, oils, and juices.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup plain vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp diced garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp ground ginger
Dash black pepper

Step 1: Assemble your dressing ingredients. You basically need a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of sour to oils, and any spices you like. You can add sweetness like raspberry or sugar, or extra tang from citrus.

Step 2: Mix everything in a glass jar and shake it up well! You want to create an emulsion, where the droplets of non-oil are suspended inside the oil. Oil and hydrophobic things mix, while water-based things (like vinegar) won’t mix with the oil. Make sure you shake well just before adding to your salad.

Step 3: Pour a few tbsp over your salad and enjoy! This dressing here was perfect on my Hawaiian Salad.

Ingredients in Hawaiian Salad:
1 cup spinach
2 slices ham, diced
1/4 cup pineapple
3 baby carrots, julienned
Sprinkle of mozzarella

So the next time your lettuce-tomato-cucumber combo gets a little bland, whip out a glass bottle and spice it up!


What’s your favorite way to top a salad?


Strawberry, avocado & feta salad

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I am always trying to get more veggies into my diet, and salads are a great way to do so. But no one likes a bowlful of lettuce leaves with just a splash of dressing for flavor. I like to add extras to make my salads more interesting. Since I had just bought a fresh head of lettuce, I used the fruits/veggies I had on hand, and it turned out great!

The lettuce was $1 and I will probably get at least 5 salads from it. The avocado was also $1, as were the strawberries. The feta was left from a while ago (and you can omit the cheese or use whatever kind you like/have) as was the dressing. So for 5 salads worth, the cost per serving is only $0.60! Plus it’s good for you, and a great side to just about anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:
1 cup torn lettuce leaves
3 large strawberries, quartered
1/4 Haas avocado, diced
1 tbsp feta cheese
1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

Simply toss and enjoy!

Steak salad

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In summer, everything tastes better on the grill. So when craving beef, it is only natural to want to grill a steak. I don’t have pictures of them, but I wish I did. Because I came home to a pound and a half steak that was bigger than my head!

So there was a sizable chunk left (of mine anyways) for the next day. Since I had also bought a head of romaine and I work on a farm, a salad with steak on top worked wonderfully. The farm I work on had radishes by the truckload, and some wild leafy greens that I had harvested 2 days before. Add to it the last leftovers of a veggie tray from a Memorial Day cookout, and a beautiful salad took shape.

Ingredients:
4 oz steak
2 cups torn romaine
1/2 cup leafy greens
1/2 cup baby carrots
2 radishes, sliced
Handful broccoli florets
Balsamic vinaigrette

Step 1:Place a handful or two of fresh washed greens on a plate. Put all the vegetables on top of the greens.

Step 2: Cook or microwave steak slices for a minute, add to greens, and top with 2 tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette. Tasty and super healthy!

Of course, you don’t need the steak on top if you’re vegetarian or vegan. You can also use any other kind of grilled meat you have.

Spinach fruit & nut salad

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Well as you may remember, I am eating healthier this year. Working out has been kind of off and on due to sickness, school visits, and I admit, laziness. I have been pretty good about eating better overall though. So today I decided to make a super healthy salad.
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Spinach is one of the best greens out there, with tons of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Then I added some fruit for natural sweetness, and nuts & seeds for healthy fats. The only thing that could make this better is some grilled chicken breast to top it off!
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Ingredients:

2 cups fresh, washed spinach
1/2 kiwi
4-6 strawberries
1 roma tomato
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
Balsamic vinegar & olive oil

Step 1: Cut the peel off the kiwi and cut into slices. Slice the strawberries as well.

Step 2: Put a big pile of spinach leaves on a plate, cover with diced fruits & nuts. Add dressing, enjoy!
Here’s to eating healthy and enjoying it for life!

Taco Salad!

When you’re hungry for Mexican but don’t want to go out, don’t have much time, want to eat healthy, or don’t want too many ingredients (or all of the above), you can’t beat a Taco Salad. Quick and easy, it can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want it.

Having just moved into a new apartment, most of my kitchen is not yet unpacked. Besides that, I don’t have an oven. I know, shocking. That eliminated about 1/3 of my cooking repertoire. However, this tasty salad requires only one pan, and little effort, so you can make it happen in under 20 minutes.

 
Ingredients:
1 head romaine lettuce, or 1 bag pre-cut mix
1-2 tomatoes
Doritos
Shredded cheese, preferably cheddar or Mexican mix
Catalina dressing
1 lb. ground beef
Taco seasoning
1/2 cup water 
Black olives (optional)


Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain off the excess fat, and add 1/4 cup taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water slowly, stirring it all together. Leave on low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the seasoning to cook into the beef. 

Step 2: While waiting, chop up the Romaine and tomato and place in a large bowl. When all seasoning is cooked in, pour taco meat over top. Sprinkle on the cheese, crush up a few handfuls of Doritos, and douse with Catalina dressing. 

The Doritos give it a cheesy crunch and the dressing is just enough tang, while the sweet works with the spice of the taco seasoning. It is so tasty! Obviously, if you go heavy on the lettuce and tomato and light on the beef plus nix the Doritos and dressing, it is much healthier. But where’s the fun in that? 😉

What’s your favorite salad topping?