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Salads have a bad rap. They’re often viewed as punishment. They’re what you force down your gullet when you’re trying to repent for the half-dozen Nutella Chocolate Chip cookies you downed the previous evening. They’re relegated to the “I’m-on-a-diet-so-I’m-only-going-to-eat-lettuce corner.” They’re what you eat for lunch for 17 days straight every January (does this resolution sound familiar?), until you bite into a juicy, bacon-topped cheeseburger after a few weeks and sigh with contentment.

Arugula Salad with Chicken and Strawberries

Despite what photos from the “women laughing alone with salad” Tumblr page depict, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that no one is ever really that happy when eating iceberg lettuce and bland tomatoes alone in a corner.

Not fun. No way. Not for a second.

And honestly? Salads often DO suck. Lots of restaurants and grab-and-go lunch spots put some wilted lettuce, dry carrots, and a few tomatoes together, call it a salad, and sell it for $8.

No thanks.

Hopefully you already know this… but salads don’t have to suck. In fact, they can be so un-sucky you’ll actually crave them. If you spend a little time and money on fresh, quality ingredients, you can create delicious, nutritious and filling salads. You’ll be the envy of all of your iceberg lettuce-toting coworkers.

This arugula salad is one of my favorites, especially with spring in full swing and summer right around the corner. It’s got nutritious greens and protein mixed with some sweet, sweet strawberries and dried cranberries.  You can keep this elimination diet-friendly by not adding cheese.  But if you’re able to eat cheese and feelin’ fancy, I suggest adding a bit of feta.

Here’s the play by play for putting the arugula salad together — mostly to prove that creating a healthy, delicious salad is easy peasy.

Ingredients for Arugula Salad with Chicken and Strawberries

First up: chop up your strawberries.

Chopped Strawberries for the Arugula Salad

Next, chop up your pecans.

Chopped Pecans for the Arugula Salad

Throw some arugula onto a big, fat plate, then add the strawberries and pecans.  You’ll want to add the dried cranberries here, too.

Now it’s time to slice up some of the baked chicken breast and add it to the salad.

Arugula Salad with Chicken and Strawberries

Now, you can add any kind of fruity, high quality balsamic vinegar to this salad and it’ll most likely be delicious.  But I’m obsessed with this Dark Sweet Cherry Balsamic Vinegar by Pastamoré — which you can buy online from Nan’s Gourmet Foods.  Drizzle your vinegar onto the salad and add the olive oil, some freshly ground pepper, and a dash of salt.  If you’re on the elimination diet, you’re all set!

Dark Cherry Balsamic Vinegar for the Arugula Salad

If you’re not on the elimination diet and you’re down with cheese, it’s time to add some.  I think feta is the way to go here, although I’ve made this salad with parmesan and that’s delicious, too.  Enjoy!

Arugula Salad with Chicken, Strawberries, and Feta

 

Arugula Salad with Baked Chicken, Strawberries, and Pecans

Prep Time: 10 minutes (as long as baked chicken is ready to go)
Makes: 4 big salads

Ingredients

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 2 cups strawberries, cut into quarters
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 baked chicken breasts, sliced
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (for those NOT on the elimination diet)
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2T dark cherry balsamic vinegar (most dark, fruity vinegars would be great)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Toss together your arugula, strawberries, pecans, dried cranberries, and sliced baked chicken.  (If you’re not on the elimination diet, add cheese here if you’d like.)
  2. Dress your salad with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and season with freshly ground black pepper and a dash of salt to taste.
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