When my sister Hannah asked if she and her husband, Nick, could come visit me in New York City for Labor Day weekend, it took me about a nanosecond to say “absolutely!” Nick had already been here once before, but it would be Hannah’s first time in this magical place, and I made it my mission to give them the full experience. We hit all of the hot spots, including the World Trade Center, Central Park, South Street Seaport, Rockefeller Center, SoHo, Little Italy, Chelsea Market, The High Line and yes, even Times Square. We did a lot of walking—averaging about 20,000 steps a day!—but we also did a lot of eating, because #balance, right? (P.S. I put together a rundown of where we went and what we had, so make sure you read to the very end!)
After all that indulgence, I craved greens and healthy food. And I needed to pack a lunch for work the next day. The problem? When I reached into my fridge, the only veggies I had were carrots, spinach and lettuce. Ughhh, boring!! But I was not about to drop $15 on a salad from the café after a whole weekend of spending money, so I put my creativity and pantry/fridge/freezer supply to the test.
First things first: if you want to establish variety in any dish, you must consider three elements: texture, color and flavor. Think of your chosen bed of greens as a blank canvas for your own healthy, delicious masterpiece. The more aesthetically pleasing, the better. No one wants to eat an ugly salad.
Here’s what I added to mine:
– sliced Medjool dates
– julienned carrots
– bacon bits
– grated Parmesan cheese
– leftover sweet corn
– chia seeds
– crushed nuts
– homemade balsamic vinaigrette (on the side)
I know this seems like a weird combination, but trust me—it was a party in my mouth! The saltiness of the bacon bits and cheese complemented the sweetness of the dates and corn. The carrots and nuts added a nice crunch. The chia seeds soaked up any extra moisture, preventing my salad from becoming soggy. The balsamic vinaigrette pulled all the flavors together into a yummy group hug on my fork.
Take a look at your kitchen’s inventory. What’s sweet? What’s salty? What’s crunchy? What’s colorful?
Other topping ideas:
– dried fruit
– nuts and seeds
– crushed tortilla chips
– sun-dried tomatoes
– pita chips
– canned beans
– dried herbs
– cheese tortellini
– canned mandarin oranges
– canned vegetables
– feta cheese
– cooked rice or quinoa
Be adventurous, my friends! You might surprise yourself and think, “Man, I should make that again sometime!” I hope you have a lovely rest of your Thursday, or as I like to say, “Friday Junior” 🙂
As promised, here’s the rundown of our culinary excursion through NYC:
Shared barbecue platters and flatbreads at Queens Bully in Forest Hills (Queens).
Café au Laits from Cipollina Market, also in Forest Hills, for breakfast
Pizza and salad from Alla Palla Pizza & Enoteca in Eataly Flatiron for a late lunch
Spiked mint-infused lemonade from SERRA by Birreria (rooftop of Eataly)
Banana pudding and iced coffee from Magnolia Bakery in the West Village
Pasta and wine from Caffe Napoli in Little Italy
Brunch at The Smith Restaurant in Midtown
Chocolate chip walnut cookies from Levain Bakery in the Upper West Side
Noodle and rice dishes at Han Dynasty in the Upper West Side
Drinks at Good Night Sonny and The 13th Step
Late night slices from East Village Pizza
~Remember to follow Fit by the Fork on Instagram~