Coming up with fresh salad ideas used to be such a struggle for me. I'm not one of those creative chef types who can throw together brilliant and innovative dishes on a whim. I'm a busy mom, and my main goal in the kitchen is to get in and out as quickly as possible — preferably with a healthy meal. I've recently developed a system that works great, so I've been sharing weekly healthy salad ideas to inspire others to eat better. Today's share is a hearty chicken and avocado salad.
Chicken and avocado salad with a base of baby spinach leaves
Since I exercise frequently, I try to consume the recommended daily amount of protein my body needs to aid in muscle development. Our bodies don't store proteins the way they do fat, so we need to maintain a steady daily source of it. However, I rarely get enough in my diet — even when I'm trying — simply because I find it difficult to eat meat (a prime source of protein) with every meal.
Luckily, protein can be found in many foods other than just meat. Nuts, seeds, and beans are also good sources. Did you know that avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit? This chicken and avocado salad is a quick and easy dish to throw together, and it is packed with protein!
Protein-Packed Chicken and Avocado Salad
This ingredient list makes 2 salads the size of the salad pictured above.
Rinse the spinach leaves well and add them to 2 salad bowls. Divide the shredded chicken evenly amongst both bowls, then split the cranberries and cashews and add to each bowl. Cut a small avocado into strips and place those atop the salad. If you're a bacon fan, you can add bacon as a topper.
It tastes *almost* as good if you leave the bacon off, and it's much healthier!
Sometimes I'll add a raspberry vinaigrette dressing to the salad (Braswell's Raspberry Vinaigrette is my favorite because it has 0 grams of fat, only 50 calories in 2 tablespoons, and has a fantastic tangy + sweet taste to it). Other times I just leave it plain or spritz some lemon juice on it. I also add pepper or cayenne pepper, because I've always had a habit of doing that with avocado.
The bacon, chicken, and avocado are great sources of protein, while the spinach is an excellent source of iron.
Because I enjoy the combo of sweet + salty, this salad totally hits the spot with me. The sweetness comes into play with the honey roasted cashews and the cranberries. I should probably note that I've also made this with honey coated pecans in place of the cashews — and I may prefer it that way! (I didn't have any in my pantry when I took these photos, or I would've used them!)
Check out this quick little quiz to see if you know the difference between common facts and myths about protein, and remember that 10-35% of your daily diet should come from protein — depending on your activity level. Have a happy and healthy week!