As much as I love the holidays, it’s wonderful to have a fresh new season upon us. For Scott and I, it’s a time to re-group, renew and re-prioritize ……… in all areas of our lives.
More exercise and eating smarter are up there near the top of the list. And I don’t know about you, but right now I’m craving light, fresh, healthy meals. After lots of fancy, heavy, rich holiday foods, I’m ready for a whole different approach. Anyone else out there with your hand up?
We’ve been traveling for almost two and a half weeks, visiting our daughter and family in London, then heading straight to New York City for a nephew’s wedding over the weekend.. It’s been an amazing time, but honestly, we’re really psyched now to get home and back into a routine.
As much as we love to pack up our bags and wander, the old saying “There’s no place like home” rings true for us. The once neatly-folded clothes are in desperate need of a good washing, our suitcases are a helter-skelter mess, and the soles of our shoes are a bit thinner after miles of walking, both in London and New York. Oh, and I’ve noticed that our jeans are fitting a bit more snugly after the plethora of delicious, indulgent holiday and celebratory food.
I must say, light, fresh, and healthy is sounding better and better more and more often. But I really need to add a another adjective to make this style of eating work for us. I’ve found that often, when we try to cut back and eat healthy, meals become quite boring and bland. It lasts for awhile, but the good intentions just aren’t very sustainable.
So in addition to light, fresh, and healthy, I like to make our lean-eating regimen fun. Fun? Yup, there’s a whole world of exciting ingredients and flavor combinations out there that can add pizzazz and deliciousness; yet meals can be kept simple and easy to put together. Fresh herbs, warm spices, and international ingredients can be put to work to make eating light and lean splendid and spectacular!
Fun also involves color and presentation. Color: I truly believe that we eat with our eyes before the first bite hits our mouth, so I love to combine vibrantly colorful veggies, fruits and herbs; creating something like a rainbow on a plate (or bowl). Presentation: Taking just a little extra time to arrange food attractively makes eating a more pleasant experience.
I came up with this chopped chicken salad several weeks ago, and I’ve been craving it ever since. There’s a burst of delicious flavor exploding in every bite. It’s also loaded with healthy, raw veggies, and lean protein. The Asian-inspired dressing is the fun little surprise part, combining sweet, sticky, and spicy.
If you’re looking for a delicious way to trim down and eat smart without sacrificing flavor and fun, whip up a bowl of this fabulous salad. You may even want to double the recipe; it keeps well, and the leftovers would be perfect for school and/or work lunches.
- For the Ginger Marmalade Dressing:
- 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 4 Tbsp orange marmalade finely chop any large orange pieces
- 2 tsp fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- For the Chopped Asian Chicken Salad:
- 1 cup diced yellow or red bell pepper*
- 1 cup carrot* diced
- 1 cup red cabbage* diced
- 6 medium green onion thinly sliced, white and green parts
- 2 cups diced rotisserie chicken breast*
- 1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ½ cup salted peanuts roughly chopped
- For the Ginger-Marmalade Dressing:
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well combined. Set aside.
- For the Chopped Asian Chicken Salad:
- Combine all salad ingredients, except peanuts, in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Drizzle with ½ cup of the dressing and toss to coat veggies and chicken with the dressing.
- Transfer to a serving platter or divide between 4 dinner-size plates. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and pass extra dressing at the table.
* All veggies, as well as chicken, should be chopped in approximately 1/4 inch dice.
I like to use rotisserie chicken for this recipe, but any lean poultry would work well.