Balsamic Chicken Salad with Mixed Greens: Picking your Battles with Picky Eaters

DSC_0022 Our children are on polar opposite ends of the picky-eater scale, almost as far apart in preference as you can get. Our oldest will eat almost everything. This is a kid who was downing legitimate sushi at 3, friends. I couldn’t have been more thrilled as a parent, and I’m sure I patted myself on the back on one too many occasions. Because child #2 really couldn’t have come MORE picky.

I’ve related here (in my Camping with Kiddos post) that he would gladly have eaten chicken nuggets every meal of every day if we had allowed it. He woke up asking for chicken nuggets for breakfast, and honestly, he almost ALWAYS had chicken nuggets for dinner. Sushi? Are you kidding me? Pasta? No way! Sandwiches? I’ll pass. Salads? Yeah, right.

Things went on this way with Chicken Nugget for nearly two years. in his second year of life we subscribed to The Scramble*, and I found myself making two dinners every night. Which, I guess, wasn’t that different from what we’d been doing before. I mean, we didn’t fall whim to his palate and start eating chicken nuggets every blessed day. Eventually I was tired of the two-dinner tango. Even if it only meant that we had to throw some chicken nuggets in the microwave.

It was time to rip off the band-aid. We simply allowed #2 to eat chicken nuggets for lunch EVERY DAY (without exception), but when it came to dinner we let him know that he didn’t have to eat what we were serving but that THERE WOULDN’T BE ANY CHICKEN NUGGETS or other food stuffs offered later (without exception).For the most part, this has worked.

This salad is a perfect example of something the #2 would not have taken one bite of two years ago. Turn up the nose, ask for a nugget. That was his M.O. Now, in the present, the food is eaten. Sometimes varying portions, sometimes a squinty expression, sometimes some actual whining (however, people at our table are invited to spend time in their bedrooms if they don’t want to eat). Man, this makes us sound like we are hardcore, but I promise we are nice about it. Nice, but firm.

On to the salad!

Ingredients for main dish

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lb. chicken tenderloins, or use sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 8 oz. balsamic vinaigrette dressing, (store-bought or homemade, see Note below)
  • 8 oz. mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds or shelled pistachios, lightly toasted, if desired
  • 10 fresh basil or mint leaves, sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, or use kernels off of 2 ears of corn

Marinate:  This recipe doesn’t actually call for extended marinating time. I just like the flavors to really mesh with my meat. So I marinated my 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken overnight in 6 oz. balsamic vinaigrette in a baking pan. (You can reserve a few oz. to dress your salad with after it is assembled.)

Homemade Orange Balsamic from The Scramble: To make orange balsamic vinaigrette, in a large measuring cup, thoroughly whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard. Add ¼ – ½ tsp. garlic or dried herbs, if desired. BOOM!

Bake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the entire pan of chicken into the oven for 10-15 minutes. (Alternative remove chicken from the marinade and grill it for 3-5 minutes each side depending on the temp of your grill.)

Toss: Meanwhile, throw all of the other ingredients– greens, cherries, almonds, basil or mint– except the corn in to a salad bowl. When your chicken is almost cooked, warm your corn kernels for 2-3 minutes in the microwave (or simmer it stovetop). Add them to the mix. Slice the cooked chicken and add it to your salad. Toss the entire salad with the remaining dressing to taste.

Eat!

I don’t have a picture here of #1 happily chowing down on his salad, but his reaction was positive, I assure you. #2 ate three or four bites of this delicious fare, and I count that as a win. Every bite. Every time. If it’s more diverse than micro zapped chicken pound, it’s a win for us with Chicken Nugget!

Have a Fabulous Friday!

XX, Megan mediterranean-chicken-salad-2-31 *The Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 5 weekly meals which means 5 recipes, complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts. PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Because my schedule is flexible, I am usually able to prep our meal at 4:00 p.m. HOWEVER, if you are a busy professional parent, remember that you can go through your weekly menu and do a ton of prep on the weekend. Recipes always say how long you can keep the prepared dish in the fridge or whether or not you can FREEZE the meal. Win, WIN! You can read a little more about our introduction to The Scramble on my ABOUT page.

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