Welcome to my food and fitness blog! I want to jump right in, so if you want to learn a little more about me or why this blog is called “Levels,” go ahead and search around now! Done? Okay, let’s jump in!
If you know me at all, you know that I have an
obsession interest in making any recipe I find healthier. When I was at a cookout this summer, a friend made a chicken Caesar pasta salad. Chicken? Pasta? Caesar dressing? Mmmm, mmm, mmm.
She used regular bowtie pasta, a little bit of romaine lettuce, parmesan, and regular Caesar dressing, and I couldn’t wait to replicate her dish for lunch — with a healthy twist. I made enough to last me for three days of lunch — and with my easy homemade croutons (recipe below), it was a really satisfying lunchtime dish!
Healthy Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- 1 cup whole wheat pasta, cooked
- 3 cups of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1/4 c. chopped onion (I like red.)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
- Sprinkle of parmesan cheese
- 1/3 c. low-fat Caesar dressing
- Season your chicken breasts with a little salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Cook (or grill) until completely cooked inside. Chop into cubes.
- While your chicken is cooking, mix your whole wheat pasta, romaine lettuce, onion, and cheese in a large bowl.
- Once chicken is cooked (and fairly cool), add to lettuce & pasta and mix well.
- Add 1/3 cup (or more if desired) of dressing to coat and mix.
- Let sit overnight and serve with homemade healthy croutons. (Note: You must let this sit overnight to get the desired taste. Like any other pasta salad, part of the appeal is the melding of flavors. Trust me — I tried this once without letting it sit, and it didn’t taste anywhere near as good!)
Homemade healthy croutons
In less than five minutes, you can have your own homemade healthy croutons! I discovered this a few weeks back and use this recipe all the time. Who doesn’t love guilt-free cubes of crispy bread goodness?!
- 1 slice of whole wheat or multigrain bread
- 1/2 T olive oil
- Seasonings of your choice (I recommend garlic, basil, oregano, and salt)
- Cut your slice of bread into small cubes and put into bowl.
- Add olive oil and seasonings to taste. Mix well.
- Pour bread cubes into a frying pan and put your heat on low. Gradually turn the cubes and cook until desired “crispness.”
How to “level up” this recipe:
- Try it with a homemade Caesar dressing. I like to use 1/3 cup plain, fat-free Greek Yogurt, 3/4 t Anchovy Paste (trust me; it makes this dressing!), 1/2 t. lemon juice, 1/2 clove of garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix in small bowl and pour over salad. (I love knowing what’s in my dressing and it’s very simple to make!)
- Add veggies. I’ll add cherry tomatoes, spinach, or even asparagus to my salad to pump up my veggie count.
How to “level down” this recipe:
- Use a regular or white “smart taste” pasta instead of wheat. To make this a little more substantial, use 2 cups of pasta and only 2 cups of lettuce.