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I’ve kind of been on a salad kick lately.  Maybe it’s the warm spring weather or anticipation for summer. Or it could just be the fact that I love the taste, and health benefits of a good, homemade salad.  Especially when some restaurant salads can be one of the highest calorie items on the menu!

The main inspiration for this appetizing salad came from the Thai Chopped Chicken Salad at Panera Bread.  I love the taste, and how low in calories, but filling it is at the same time.  Here is my version, with a few repurposed twists.  Don’t skip the coconut milk marinade, it makes the chicken so tender and juicy. This flavorful dish will take the “boring” out of any salad routine.

My sangria sundaes are like no other sundae you’ve ever had.  Cool, tropical fruit marinated in refreshing white wine, citrus juices and topped with a honey drizzle and scoop of vanilla bean frozen yogurt.  

This dessert is so delicious….. and yes, I did add a few more scoops of vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream to mine last night. Yum, pretty sure I said that out loud a few times while eating it!  (Yes, this one is just for the adults at the table, but kids would enjoy the frozen yogurt topped with plain strawberries and honey.)

THAI CHICKEN SALAD

serves 2

Chicken & Marinade:

  • 10 oz CHICKEN BREAST, BONELESS, SKINLESS
  • 2 tsp SRIRACHA HOT CHILI SAUCE* (or 1-2 tsp regular hot sauce)
  • 14.5 fl oz COCONUT MILK, LITE (1 can)
  • 2 cloves GARLIC, coarsely chopped (or ½ tsp garlic powder)

Vegetables:

  • 2/3 cup EDAMAME, SHELLED (soybeans)**
  • 1 large RED PEPPER, chopped
  • 3/4 cup CARROTS, chopped
  • 1/4 large RED ONION, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp GARLIC POWDER
  • SEA SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp COCONUT MILK (RESERVED) OR PLAIN GREEK YOGURT
  • 1 tbsp PEANUT BUTTER, CREAMY
  • 1 tsp SESAME or OLIVE OIL
  • 2 tbsp SOY SAUCE, LOW SODIUM*
  • 1 tbsp RICE VINEGAR
  • 2 tsp FRESH LIME OR LEMON JUICE
  • 1 clove GARLIC, minced (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
  • 2 tsp GINGER ROOT, minced, (or 1 tsp dried ground ginger)
  • 2 tsp HONEY
  • 1/2 tsp RED PEPPER FLAKE, (optional)

Salad & Toppings:

  • 4 cups ROMAINE LETTUCE, chopped
  • 1 tbsp FRESH CILANTRO, chopped
  • 2 tbsp SLIVERED ALMONDS and/or CHOPPED PEANUTS

*GLUTEN/WHEAT FREE OPTION- use wheat-free reduced sodium Tamari soy sauce and a GF Sriracha sauce (or leave out).

**I use frozen edamame and thaw in microwave

1. For the marinade (can do a day ahead): add chicken breasts, can of coconut milk (reserve 1-2 Tbsp for dressing), 2 garlic cloves (roughly chopped), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and Sriracha sauce in a zip top bag. Turn over, making sure chicken is coated well with marinade; refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an oven safe baking dish with cooking spray. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off excess, and place in prepared dish. Bake uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Cut into bite sized chunks or slices (can do this step ahead and refrigerate).

3. Over medium high heat, sauté chopped red pepper, carrot, onion, edamame and 1/2 tsp garlic powder in a medium skillet, sprayed with cooking spray. Cook for 8-10 minutes (add chopped chicken to vegetables after 5 minutes cooking time). Occasionally stir and sauté until softened, and all ingredients start to brown.

4. For the dressing: whisk peanut butter, 1 tsp oil, reserved coconut milk or yogurt, honey, vinegar, 1 minced garlic clove, ginger, soy sauce, lemon juice and crushed red pepper, if desired.

5. For each salad, place 2 cups of chopped romaine in a large mixing bowl, add 1/2 the cooked vegetables, 1/2 (5 oz) chicken and 1/3 of the dressing (about 2 1/2 Tbsp). Toss to coat all ingredients well. Pour onto a large dinner plate and top 1 Tbsp nuts and 1/2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro, if desired. Easily doubled or tripled for guests or a family meal.

NUTRITION INFO PER SALAD: 410 calories, 13g fat, 30g carb, 7g fiber, 11g sugar, 29g protein

 A super easy and elegant dessert!

TROPICAL SANGRIA FRUIT SUNDAE

serves 4

  • 2 cups STRAWBERRIES, sliced or chopped
  • 1 MANGO, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups FRESH PINEAPPLE, chopped
  • 3 CLEMENTINE ORANGES, peeled and segmented
  • 1 LIME, JUICED and ZESTED
  • 1/2 LEMON, JUICED and ZESTED (zest before cuttin)
  • 1 1/2 cups WHITE WINE (like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, any favorite will do)
  • 4 tsp PURE OR RAW HONEY
  • 1 cup VANILLA BEAN LOWFAT FROZEN YOGURT OR COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM

1. Mix all fruit, citrus zest and juices in a large, shallow, glass bowl or dish. Pour wine over the top making sure all fruit is coated well with wine; cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours, or overnight for a real sangria taste.

2. In each of four dessert bowls, add even amounts of fruit (about 1 cup) with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with 1 tsp honey and 1/4 cup frozen yogurt or coconut milk ice cream (dairy free option).

VARIATIONS: Top each sundae with chopped nuts, shredded coconut or use other fruits (grapes, raspberries, etc.) in marinade.  For a twist, try champagne for regular white wine.

NUTRITION INFO PER SERVING (about 1 cup fruit & 1/4 cup lowfat fro yo): 195 calories, 1g fat, 40mg sodium, 45g carb, 3g fiber, 35g sugar, 4g protein

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