Crispy onion strings is all I have to say. It really is unfortunate when people make a quick judgement that healthy eating is bland and boring. Lets be honest, these crispy, “fried”, onion strings are anything but boring, especially when paired with the tangy homemade BBQ sauce and shredded chicken. But these blanket statements just fuel my fire, keeping my passion alive for creating healthy and yet flavorful dishes that are full of life. And most importantly helping you and your family to realize that healthy eating can be fun and exciting and oh so delicious.
My inspiration for this salad is one from a BBQ joint in a nearby town. Unfortunately their salad is a recipe for disaster and anything but healthy. Let’s break it down and I will give you the play-by-play on how this beauty was converted from a true health disaster into a health enhancing, real food, paleo, delicious plate of goodness. Let’s start at the bottom shall we?
1. Bed of Lettuce
Why yes, lettuce is lettuce and still a vegetable, right? While this is true, not all lettuce is created equal. As we’ve been told all along, the darker the greens the better it is. And that is the truth. At a restaurant normally you would be looking at a plate of typical iceberg lettuce. While still a “real” food when you are at home you could add a variety of lettuce types; romaine, spinach, purple romaine, or field greens to get a variety of nutrients as well. The key to lettuce, especially the more flavorful varieties is to chop it all up. This way you, your kids, and your husband can’t sift through it picking out the greens that they don’t prefer. When you can’t distinguish it, the pieces are relatively the same size and the flavors just combine better it all just seems better! So chop it!
2. Other Veggies
Normally at restaurants you get the typical, shredded carrots and pale tomatoes. Again, yes still “real” food and veggies, these pale and probably old vegetables lack the nutrients that in season ones do. It is always best to buy local and when that isn’t an option, ahem the midwest in the winter, buy what is in season. For instance this salad is topped with garden-fresh, vibrant tomatoes and sweet corn. This fall you could add roasted butternut squash, in the winter roasted root vegetables, and spring how about some asparagus? Get where I am going. Seasonal is always more nutritious and more flavorful.
3. Hard Boiled Egg
It’s never appetizing to see a pale, greenish colored yolk starring back at you when you order a salad. Fresh, hard-boiled, vibrant eggs make it, they just do. The health of the animal matters. Healthier animal, healthier you!
4. BBQ Chicken
Typically BBQ sauce isn’t a good choice when ordering out. Of course unless you are at local, farm-fresh or high-end restaurant where it is a given they are whipping up their own sauces and dressing. If this isn’t the case, steer clear of BBQ. BBQ sauce is usually chocked full of added sugar. Most store-bought, restaurant-served varieties have anywhere from 12-22 grams (that equals 3-6 tsps) of sugar per 2 Tbsp of sauce. You know that when they coat your chicken for your salad in BBQ sauce they are probably using more than 2 Tbsp and either way you are getting more than your daily allowance for sugar right there in that stinkin’ sauce. In homemade BBQ sauce you can control the amount of sweetener used which is always a good idea. Never let someone else sweeten things for you. The good news, you can make homemade BBQ sauce in minutes without all the added sugar. Can we get a whoop, whoop for that one?
5. Crispy Onion Strings
And the star of the show, the very thing that brings it all together and makes you order the salad in the beginning, those flavorful, crispy, delicious onion strings that are not your bodies’ friend. That is if they are coated in bleached flour and fried in a processed, dirty oil. However, you can get the same flavor and crispiness right in your own home and I guarantee it will leave your family asking for this salad to be served time and time again. At a restaurant, no thanks! There are just too many things present making it a recipe for disaster. But if your cookin’ them up, go ahead, indulge and enjoy every last crisp of them.
6. Creamy Ranch Dressing
There is no denying the fact that processed foods have a lot of nasty ingredients in them. Especially when it comes to condiments. This is unfortunate because condiments, sauces and spreads can really make a dish. They take something delicious up two or maybe even three notches. In my opinion everything is better coated in a sauce or spread, am I right? Unfortunately they can also make or break your health. Normal dressings are full of emulsifiers, gums, excess sugar and a lot of mysterious ingredients. If you just make it at home you know exactly what is in it and you can control the flavors. Plus it is so easy! Add the ingredients to a blender, turn on, and viola done. A creamy, delicious, flavorful salad dressing has just been created before you eyes. –>Shhh<– this one even has avocado in it. No one will ever know.
Do you get my drift? You don’t have to compromise flavor in order to gain health. They go together, they really do and that’s the bottom line. Plus, if you enjoy what you eat and that being healthy, real, grown-from-the-earth food, you are more likely to keep eating it and that makes the heart of a nutritionist like myself go pitter patter. The ultimate dream of so many, to be healthy, fit and happy yet still be able to eat delicious, hearty, flavorful food, is in your hands! It can be done and trust me it is a life worth living.
Savor it and enjoy it. And please don’t feel shame for heaping your salad with crispy onion strings, they are that good!
- Onion Strings:
- 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup tapioca starch, separated
- 3 Tbsp flaxseed meal
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- Coconut oil, for frying
- 2-4 cups shredded chicken
- Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Chopped lettuces - spinach, romaine, purple romaine, or field greens
- 4 Hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups sweet corn
- Creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing
- Prepare all vegetables; chop lettuce, chopped tomatos and warm corn.
- Mix shredded chicken with desired BBQ sauce and warm in a pan.
- Very thinly slice onion into strings.
- Mix together almond flour, ⅓ cup tapioca flour, flaxseed meal, and spices.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl.
- Place remaining tapioca flour on a plate.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil for frying (adding more as needed).
- Take onion strings, coat in tapioca flour, dip in egg and then in flour mixture.
- Add to hot oil frying for a few minutes and flipping.
- Cook until golden brown and then place on a plate lined with napkins to drain.
- Repeat until all onions have been cooked.
- Assemble salad; lettuce, veggies, egg, BBQ chicken and onion strings.
- Drizzle with additional BBQ sauce and Avocado Ranch.
- ½ avocado
- ⅓ cup mayonniase
- 2 Tbsp almond milk or water
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- ½ teaspoon dried minced onion
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Add all ingredients to a blender except almond milk or water.
- Puree and slowly add liquid as needed to thin to desired consistency.
- Use or store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.