avocado

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing

Even if you’re not a big sports buff, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that there’s a big sports ball game coming up this weekend.

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I don’t really follow sports ball, but talk of “the big game” is utterly unavoidable on the tv and in public conversations and small talk with customers at work. From what I’ve gathered, the Denver Cows are playing the Southern State Snow Leopards. Or something like that. I wasn’t really listening.

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I generally tune out when I hear any sports talk, especially this time of year. The only thing that ever catches my attention during sports ball season is the TV segments about game day food and recipes. Chips and dips and wings and all things deep fried and heart clogging and delicious. Pizzas and snackadiums and coolers full of beer. Oh yeah, and we can’t forget the guacamole.

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

The other day someone on TV mentioned that over the past few years avocado consumption on game day has shot straight through the roof. This year they’re estimating that 53.5 million pounds of avocados will be purchased and pummeled into guacamole, and that the total amount of guacamole eaten that day would fill the stadium to almost 12 feet deep.

Now that’s what I call a snackadium!

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Even though I won’t actually be participating in any game day festivities, hearing about a 12 foot deep stadium full of guacamole definitely got my mouth watering and my wheels spinning.

Instead of just making a killer batch of guacamole though, I wanted to find a way to turn it into a filling healthy meal rather than a bowl of dip to serve with chips.

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

It didn’t take me long to decide I’d be making a big beautiful dinner salad, but I really wasn’t sure what to call it. The most obvious name was, well, “guacamole salad”, but I was afraid that that name would conjure images of a scoop of guacamole plopped into the center of a bed of greens.

I considered calling it a deconstructed guacamole salad since it has all the traditional guacamole ingredients separated and recombined in a different way, but I was afraid that you’d see the word “deconstructed” in the title and roll your eyes so hard they’d get stuck, and then you wouldn’t be able to read all about this delicious salad.

So, guacamole salad it was.

Trust your gut. (Your gut wants guacamole.)

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you’re not fond of arugula, this salad can basically be made with any greens you want. I like the pepperiness of arugula and think it pairs really well with everything else in this salad, but spinach or mixed greens or some nice crunchy romaine would work really well too. It’s totally up to you!

You could also leave out the grilled chicken if you want to keep things meat-free. I’d suggest that maybe you could add a full can of black beans (instead of the half can listed below) for extra protein, or maybe throw in some grilled mushrooms or zucchini for a meaty bite? You could even swap out the chicken for some thinly sliced steak or grilled shrimp if you’re into that kind of thing. Why not? Infinite possibilities. Whatever you like y’all!

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

This salad is simple, easy, filling, and perfectly delicious. Bursting with creamy buttery avocado and packed with all the fixins that go in to a traditional guacamole. Sweet cherry tomatoes, biting red onion, fresh green cilantro, even a handful of tortilla chips for crunch! It all comes together with a bright and citrusy jalapeño lime dressing that could not be easier to make, especially if you have an immersion blender.

All the flavor of the game day grub, without the food coma!

guacamole salad with jalapeno lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Guacamole Salad with Jalapeño Lime Dressing

Jalapeño Lime Dressing:
zest and juice (about 1/4 cup) of 2 limes
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Salad: 
3 to 4 generous cups arugula
2 ripe avocados, cut into large chunks
1 cup halved grape tomatoes, about 1/2 a pint
1/2 a small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 cup torn cilantro leaves, stems removed
1/2 to 1 cup tortilla chips, crunched up (but not crushed to dust)
1/2 a can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 chicken breasts, grilled and thinly sliced (optional)

Make the dressing:
Combine all dressing ingredients in a small measuring cup or wide mouth mason jar and puree with an immersion blender until creamy and smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender or food processor. Alternately you could just chop the jalapeño and garlic super finely by hand and shake to combine. Set aside.
Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

Assemble the salad:
Layer all remaining ingredients in a large serving or salad bowl. Once ready to toss, pour dressing over the top and toss toss toss to distribute all ingredients and evenly coat with dressing. Serve immediately.
If you want to assemble the salad ahead be sure to wait until the last minute to cut open the avocados or to add the tortilla chips or dressing.

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kale cobb salad

So this is kind of a weird and personal post and it feels strange to be writing this, but lately I’ve been feeling kind of…

Off.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

My energy levels have been in the toilet and I’ve just felt run down and kind of crumby most of the time. Even blogging, which has always felt like an escape from the stresses and monotony of my life, has begun to feel like a chore.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

After months of denial, I’ve finally had to admit to myself that my weight is probably a major factor in how cruddy I’ve been feeling lately.

I’ve always been a little on the thick side, and haven’t been “beach ready” since I was probably 7 years old. Over the past few years though, I’ve packed on a little extra padding and recently it’s felt…

Uncomfortable.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

When Russell and I first met we were both much slimmer than we are now, though again, far from svelte. When we first started dating I used every trick in the book to woo him, and as you can probably imagine, most of the tricks in my book are food related. Once we moved in with each other and realized we were together for good, we just got comfortable and didn’t really notice as we gained a pound here and another there.

Shortly after we married I started this blog. Especially in the beginning, a lot of the dishes I was making were old family recipes that are near and dear to my heart, but also tend to be pretty heavy. These are dishes that are fine for special occasions, but I was making (and consuming) them much more often than I probably should have been.

As much as I love to cook, my true love has always been baking, so in addition to the heavy family recipes I also started baking even more than I used to. For whatever reason, I also really enjoy photographing the sweets and treats more than the savory dishes, so that was just one more contributing factor in the sudden explosion of cakes and pies and cookies pumping out of my oven. And then, of course, there are the bundts…

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

I mean, not everything I post here is rich, heavy, and unhealthy. I actually think I have done a decent job of coming up with some pretty fun and creative (and delicious) healthy recipes every once in a while, but those recipes tend to be few and far between. That’s also not to say that I’m only eating the food that I post here on the (web) pages of Brooklyn Homemaker. Day to day, I think Russell and I do a pretty good job of trying to eat healthy “whole” foods and plenty of vegetables, but the less exciting recipes in my repertoire (or his) don’t ever show up here.

We really just need to focus on portion control, moderation, and keeping active. I don’t think it’s realistic to think I’ll ever look like an Olympic swimmer or track and field star, but I’m no spring chicken and I definitely need to start considering my health if I want to stick around for a good long time.

For the past week (I know, a whole week, woopty-freaking-doo) I’ve been eating healthy, avoiding carbs where I can, and trying to break myself of the habit of looking for something sweet after dinner every night. Fighting the sugar addiction has been especially hard for me but I’ve been strong so far. I’ve also been walking home from work every day (about a two and a half miles) and I’m in the process of looking for a gym that doesn’t cost a million dollars and isn’t totally disgusting.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Aaaaanyway…

I’m not writing all this to say that I’m going to stop blogging, or to say that I’m suddenly turning Brooklyn Homemaker into a health food and fitness blog, espousing the health benefits of an all-bean-sprout diet. I’m just writing this to let you know that I’m going to try, just try, to focus a bit more on healthy dishes and a bit less on baking and sweets and the heavy hearty food I was brought up eating.

Honestly, I’m probably writing this more for myself than for you. I think I might be writing this as a way to hold myself accountable for my health. If I write it here, for all the world to see and read, I have to stick with it or I’ll look like a real dummy. A real overweight dummy.

Please don’t be too harsh if I end up failing…
Pretty please?

I’m not really sure how I’m going to go about all this going forward either. I’d really like to tell myself (and you) that I’m going to post super flavorful & creative healthy dishes all the time, and the baked goods and heavy dishes will be the ones to show up only every once in a while. Realistically though, I know I just love to bake, so maybe my “cheat day” recipes will end up showing up here just as often as my “don’t be such a fatty” recipes. I really don’t want to call this a “diet” (ugh). I just want to do what I can to teach myself how to cook, and eat, and blog, a little differently; in a way that will make me feel better and that I can stick to for years to come.
I guess only time will tell. Wish me luck!

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Okay, so let’s finally talk about this salad. I know that a cobb salad is not really the healthiest salad in the world. I promise that I know that adding bacon and blue cheese and eggs to a salad makes it less healthy than if I were to just munch on a bowl of lettuce with lemon juice.

BUT!!!
I’ve made some changes to the classic cobb recipe to try to healthy it up a little bit.

First of all, kale is like the king of all health foods right? It’s packed with vitamins and minerals and fiber and good stuff, and packs a lot more healthy punch than romaine does for sure.
Second, even though I kept the bacon and blue cheese (because it wouldn’t be a cobb without them) I did reduce the proportions of the bad ingredients vs the good ingredients. If you wanted to, you could leave them out, but I do think that they’re worth keeping around for flavor and contrast and to make the salad feel like a truly satisfying meal.
Third, while I did keep the crumbled blue cheese, I opted for an easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette rather than blue cheese dressing to gussy up my fancy pants dark green kale leaves.
Aaand, fourth and finally, I added some sunflower seeds for texture and crunch, and because I love sunflower seeds in a salad okay?

While this version of a cobb is healthier than one you might find in a restaurant, it doesn’t taste at all like “health food” and that’s definitely what I was going for! Here’s to our health!

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Kale Cobb Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

Salad:
1 skinless boneless chicken breast
2 to 3 strips thick cut bacon
1/2 avocado, cut into bite sized cubes
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese
2 boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 to 4 cups chopped kale leaves

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or a small jar with a watertight lid. Whisk or shake dressing together until well combined and emulsified. Refrigerate until salad is ready to toss.

Season chicken breast with salt and pepper and sear or grill until cooked through. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing thin or cubing.
Cook bacon over medium to medium high heat until fat is rendered and bacon is brown and crisp. Immediately remove to a paper towel to absorb some of the fat. Once cool, crumble bacon.

Assemble all salad ingredients, including the chicken and bacon, in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top of salad and toss together using large tongs or salad servers.