Hearty and Healthy Chopped Salad

There’s a great restaurant that my boyfriend and I like to walk to called True Food Kitchen in downtown Santa Monica. They have an amazing salad that I love and I wanted to take a stab at replicating it at home. I had never used dried dates before in a recipe, but after tasting them in the Chicken Chopped Salad at True Food, I wanted to try (they add a surprisingly sweet creaminess to the salad) .

true food kitchen salad

true food kitchen salad

While my attempt at replicating the salad failed (the inspiration was there!) it really didn’t turn out any less delicious than the salad at True Food! And for that I am proud because now I can call this salad my own! It’s my hearty and healthy chopped salad!

It’s one of my staples in my little household that I make almost once a week. I never thought I would be the type of person who actually craved salads…or even ate salads as a whole meal, BUT if you find the right one AND make your own dressing (that’s really the key) than you’ll find yourself completely satisfied after munching on what looks like rabbit food but is really the most yummy and hearty salad you could imagine. Like I said, homemade dressing is really the key to making a salad taste good! Who knew that was half the battle?! And don’t be intimidated by it, really all you need is a fork (or a whisk) and a bowl to mix all the ingredients together. Easy peasy.  The ingredient list looks long, but there’s zero prep for many ingredients–you just throw them in the salad! Trust me, it will be worth it.

Interesting facts about dates: Did you know that dates (dried or fresh) are one of the best natural sources of potassium, an essential mineral needed by the body to maintain muscle contractions, and smooth functioning of the heart muscles? It’s also an important fruit used to break fasts after Ramadan in Arab countries as just a handful will increase the energy in a body that has had no nourishment for the day. Dates contain naturally occurring sugars like fructose, glucose and sucrose that boost your body’s energy. Read more here.

Here’s what you’ll end up with if you follow my recipe:

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Here’s what you’ll need:

For the chicken:

♦3 free range organic chicken breasts cut into about 6-8 chicken tender strips (read why I use free range & organic here)

♦1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

♦1/3 cup egg whites

*  4 servings at 160 cal/serving

You can also do this salad without the chicken if you are a vegetarian or just want to cut back on meat. The cheese and nuts alone provide a lot of protein.

For the salad: 

♦4 slices of low sodium deli provolone cheese (I use Boar’s head low sodium because it’s only 50 calories a slice. Also read why I don’t use shredded cheese here.)

♦6 cups of chopped organic romaine lettuce (chop up the lettuce after buying and then measure)

♦1/3 cup chopped walnuts

♦1/3 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

♦ 1/3 cup dried organic cranberries

♦5 large dried dates or around 8 smaller ones

*4 servings of salad at approx 270 cal/serving

For the dressing:

♦3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

♦2 tbs red wine vinegar

♦1 tbs fresh lemon juice (cut a lemon in half, stick a fork in and move around to squeeze out the juice)

♦ 1 tsp dijon mustard

♦ 1 tsp worcestershire sauce

♦ 1 tsp agave nectar

♦ 1 garlic clove (use a garlic crusher or chop finely)

♦ 1/4 teaspoon salt

♦ 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* 4 servings of dressing at 100 cal/serving

Total calories: approx. 529 cal/serving with chicken, and 369 cal/serving without chicken

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 425F. Coat chicken strips with egg whites and lightly cover with bread crumbs by rolling them in a plate with the crumbs. Place them on a tinfoil covered baking sheet and bake for about 8-12 minutes (depending how big your strips are), flipping them halfway through. Take them out and cut into bite size pieces to put in the salad.

Chop the lettuce to your liking and put in a bowl. Rip up the cheese into little pieces (again to your liking) and throw into bowl. Add the cranberries, chopped walnuts, and pepitas. Cut the dates in half and take out the pit, then chop into little pieces and throw  them in the bowl too.

Make the dressing by blending all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until blended. Pour over individual servings that way if there is leftover salad you can store it without dressing on it so it doesn’t get soggy.

Bon Apetit!

hearty & healthy chopped salad

it hasn’t been tossed and the chicken & walnuts haven’t been added yet!

hearty & healthy chopped salad   hearty & healthy chopped salad

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  1. […] Interesting facts about dates: Did you know that dates (dried or fresh) are one of the best natural sources of potassium, an essential mineral needed by the body to maintain muscle contractions, and smooth functioning of the heart muscles? It’s also an important fruit used to break fasts after Ramadan in Arab countries as just a handful will increase the energy in a body that has had no nourishment for the day. Dates contain naturally occurring sugars like fructose, glucose and sucrose that boost your body’s energy. Read more here. Want another delicious date recipe for summer? Try this hearty salad! […]



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