For a while, starting back in November, our little gym in our apartment complex was on the fritz. I would wake up early before the boys were even out of bed, get dressed, drag my feet to the "gym room" across the parking lot, turn on the light, step on the treadmill, only to find...
that the DANG THING WAS BROKEN AGAIN.
Step on the other treadmill - broken, too.
I could step on the elliptical instead, I thought.
Are you kidding me, people?
I wanted to light the thing on fire.
Apparently when a treadmill malfunctions, my first resort is arson.
Needless to say, I wasn't a happy camper - especially with offensive amount of cookie dough I most likely inhaled the day before.
It was always a complete buzz-kill. Instead of chilling out, and changing the location of my run within the warm walls inside, to the the freezing cold of death outside, I would usually just walk home and get back into bed. Pathetic, right? For some reason, it tasted better to whine about how much we pay in rent with our apartment's gym amenities always broken, then to actually be proactive about my exercise in different ways.
Ryan still ran outside in the cold of death. He's a stud. Me? I usually
ate a giant cinnamon roll did a workout video in my apartment instead. With a toddler, that usually doesn't go so well. So my workouts were pretty lame for a while.
My whining eventually diminished, a brand new gym with a fleet of working treadmills was built, and I was able to get in my exercise very often. I focused more effort towards my eating habits, too. I ended up eating healthier towards the new year, made a goal of it in 2014, and have tried to keep that plan going ever since. Sure, as you may have noticed on my Instagram feed:
I eat treats and sweets. AND I EAT THEM HARD CORE.
Doesn't mean I don't make a huge effort to still eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes I give myself a break, and eat that Taco Bell Crunch Wrap like the happiest blondie on the planet. But for the most part, I try to keep things simple and healthy.
This salad is a perfect example of what kid of dinners I sometimes like to throw into the mix. Yep, it's a salad, and my manly-man-face-man-man husband gives me the eyebrow. Until he tastes it...
Load a bunch of meat on a salad, and the men won't even care about the "salad" nature of the dish you placed before him for dinnertime. If it's Jamaican Jerk chicken, and it's grilled up in the best way possible, anyone is going to be sold with this salad. IT IS INCREDIBLE. Marinate those little suckers for at least 8 hours for the most amazing chicken flavor of your life. It's perfect for this salad - mostly because there's a sweetness to the marinade. It will catch you off-guard, but I promise it works like a dream. Most of the spices you probably already have on hand from last Fall's baking addictions (nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, etc). The chicken grills up perfectly, and adds that crispy (yet most on the inside) bite to the salad.
Now, for the salad: I decided to use baby corn instead of the usual single-kernel types - it's just easier to stab with the fork and incorporate into each lovely bite. Lately I've been on a pepper-jack cheese kick, so naturally that had to be throw into the salad. Avocado and tomato are a must for us, and instead of the usual spinach-arugula mix, I chose to do my husband a solid, and stick to something a little more tame with the green leaf. The beauty to chopped salad is that you can customize the heck out of them. Don't like pepper jack? Use some sharp cheddar or soft mozzarella. Don't like black beans? Use some pintos or chick peas. Whatever you want, you slap those ingredients right on the salad. Just don't skip the chicken. Trust me.
Jamaican Jerk Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad
1 lb chicken tenders
3 T soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
2 T vegetable oil
1 T molasses
1 T rice vinegar
2 t dried thyme
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t ground cloves
1 t allspice
1 t powdered ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, and finely diced (keep seeds if you like it hot :)
green leaf lettuce, chopped
pepper jack cheese, cubed
grape tomatoes, chopped
baby corn, chopped
black beans, drained and rinsed
whatever dressing you prefer
1. Prepare marinade a day in advance. Early morning, or the night before you serve the chicken, combine all the ingredients together in a large ziploc bag or tupperware with a tight-fitting-lid. Stir or squish around the chicken in the marinade to coat the chicken pieces completely. Marinate overnight or at least 8 hours.
2. Fire up the grill, or heat your grill skillet to medium-high heat. Working in batches (depending on the size of your grill) grill up the chicken, cooking 2-3 minutes on each side (until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F). The chicken will look burned, and it will totally freak you out. I promise, it's not burned. It's kind of the signature look of this chicken. Let chicken rest on a cutting board for 2-3 minutes before cutting into them. (great time to prep the salad).
3. Prepare the salad: On a few salad plates (if serving as a side), or dinner plates (if serving for dinner), lay down a layer of lettuce, then working in horizontal lines, lay down the prepped salad ingredients in lovely rows. Chop the chicken, or shred with a fork, then toss on the salad as well. Serve with your favorite dressing or vinaigrette.
*(amounts depend on how many people you're serving)
chicken recipe source: a beautiful bite
salad recipe source: Baking with Blondie