Eat Healthier with Low-Cal Protein Salad Toppers
DISCLAIMER: I am relatively healthy, but I am no dietician.
Sometimes when people say "I love salad!", they mean "I love salad dressing!". I admit, a good homemade ranch dressing is delicious, but not always the healthiest choice.
But here's a tip: if you season your protein topping correctly, your salad doesn't need any dressing.
Over the weekend, I took diced chicken breasts, seasoned them well (low-sodium, of course), and browned them in the Instant Pot on the "Saute" setting. Then some diced-up onion, celery, and peppers were sauteed. After 5 minutes of Instant Pot magic, the concoction was ready to top my salad.
This is the secret to keeping salads healthy: keeping the taste healthy. If you can add flavor without adding (too many) calories/fat, your salad will be healthier.
Chicken, salmon, tuna, even well-trimmed beef is healthier than salad dressing. The key is this: getting a bite of the seasoned protein in every bite of salad. I do it by cutting the protein into small bites so I can include one on each forkful of greens.
SAUTEED CHICKEN FOR SALAD
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbs of diced onion
- 1 tbs of diced celery
- 1 tbs of diced pepper (bell, banana, jalapeno, your choice!)
- dry/powdered seasoning of choice (I like a Mediterranean spice blend, or a Cajun spice blend, etc)
- Extra virgin olive oil
Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels and dice into 1/2 inch cubes. In a bowl, add diced chicken and 1 teaspoon of olive oil, tossing to coat (add more olive oil if needed). Then add 1 tablespoon of seasoning and toss, making sure chicken is coated well.
Pour one tablespoon olive oil into Instant pot on the "Saute" setting. Once oil is hot, add chicken and saute' until slightly browned.
Remove chicken from Instant Pot and reserve any liquid.
To the Instant Pot (still on the saute' setting), add chopped vegetables with enough olive oil to coat, and saute' vegetables.
Once the onions are translucent, add chicken and liquid and set the Instant Pot to high-pressure cook for 5 minutes.
After the cooking phase is complete, allow the steam to release naturally for at least 8 minutes.
Remove chicken and vegetables from the instant pot, but replace the liquid and saute' until the liquid is reduced by half. Turn off Instant Pot, put the cooked chicken/vegetables back into the pot, stir, and then secure the lid with the Instant Pot in the OFF position for 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken and separate it into individual servings for your salad (I use about 1/2 cup) for meal prep.
I get about 6 tasty servings from 2 chicken breasts, with each serving (not including the salad itself) containing approximately 120-130 calories.
Before eating my salad (greens, tomatoes, cucumber, nuts, sweet peppers, carrots, etc) I like to warm up the chicken. Delicious, with no dressing at all!