Healthy eating is more fun when you can look forward to colorful meals bursting with flavorful fresh ingredients. Celebrate the desire to eat light in spring and summer with this gorgeous spinach salad with grilled chicken and strawberries.
- This quick and easy salad recipe makes eating healthy fun.
- A great low-calories lunch that feels like something you would eat at a spa.
- A good source of fiber and lean protein will help you feel full longer.
Last week I got serious about the state of my body and committed to shedding weight that has been creeping up over the past year. I chalked up the first few pounds to natural fluctuations. Then I tried to temper the weight gain by increasing my level of exercise. But, those last few pounds made my pants tighter than I would like and set off a red flag warning. I had to make a choice. Either keep making excuses, and have to buy all new pants, or get real with myself and take action to lose the extra weight.
After 8 years in the world of weight loss and healthy living I still have the same immediate reaction to starting a weight loss goal. I resist. I talked about doing something for about a month before I was ready to commit. During those weeks I made a few half-hearted attempts to get on top of things but with no real plan I saw no real results.
To begin I had to go back to the basics. I know what worked for me in the past, the same tools I now coach others to use – keep hydrated, eat the rainbow, be accountable by writing down what I eat, and fit in extra activity where I can.
When facing an uncomfortable task I respond more to carrots than sticks. I need to know there are things to look forward to in the immediate future. The ultimate goal is shedding the weight but I need small victories and rewards along the way. The thing that finally pushed me to spring into action was sitting down and planning meals that I was excited to cook and eat. I chose a few recipes that were easy, full of colorful ingredients and stayed within the range of calories I set for each day.
The phrase "physician heal thy self” comes to mind. Not that I am a doctor but you get where I'm coming from.
Though we are still at least a month away from enjoying local strawberries I have been getting a head start on the season thanks to the beautiful berries coming up from California. Have you seen them? Some of the strawberries are enormous! My two-year-old (who is no waif) can barely wrap his pudgy fingers around a single berry. Since our family was already enjoying snacking on fresh strawberries it was an easy choice to add them to my meal plan for the week.
I honestly wasn't expecting the kids to be excited about digging into spinach salad with grilled chicken and strawberries for dinner. I served the salad with a few scoops of quinoa which made the entire meal seem more like a lunch from a spa than a family dinner. However, the kids completely surprised me by munching away like happy little strawberry covered rabbits. The shallots were turned into flying worms but I'll take creative expression over complaints about the meal any day.
With the first week behind me I am hitting my stride as far as eating for weight loss. I feel particularly proud of the choices I made at a lavish buffet served at a DRY soda media event (it helped that they only offered tiny plates).
Saying no to the immediate gratification of a swanky buffet or even a handful of chocolates is hard. It takes practice to change habits. Having easy colorful meals to look forward to is a great incentive to keep on track and remember the ultimate goal will be worth a few compromises made along the way.
Spinach salad with grilled chicken and strawberries
- 1 lb 8 chicken breast tenders
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 ½ cups slice or diced strawberries
- ¼ cup thinly sliced shallots
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- 2 tablespoon flax seeds
- ½ cup Low-fat Strawberry Vinaigrette
- Heat a grill pan or a skillet to medium high heat and mist with oil.
- Season both sides of the chicken with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in the hot pan for 5-6 minutes then flip and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until there is no pink in the centers. Remove to a plate and lightly cover with foil. After 5-10 minutes slice the chicken into 1 inch pieces.
- While the chicken cooks, place the flax seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium heat until they begin to pop and smell toasty. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Remove the seeds from the pan immediately so they don’t burn.
- Assemble the salad: In a bowl or on a large tray, arrange the spinach in an even layer then sprinkle over the strawberries, shallots and blue cheese. Spoon the salad dressing over the top then add the chicken and flax seeds. Finish with a sprinkle of course salt and a few grinds of pepper.