Chicken Taco Salad

Salads are an easy pick when trying to add more vitamins and minerals to your diet. You probably order fat-free dressing or dressing on the side in order to save calories. But some salads at fast-food and restaurants have the healthy ingredients in the inside but the killer calories come from the outside. Yes, I'm talking about the Taco Salad.
Before I turned "healthy" (circa 2000), I always struggled finding food when on the road. I traveled a lot for swim meets or my brothers gymnastics meets and I wasn't a big fan of salads. Now I don't like fast food salads because they are expensive and all I get are a few shredded carrots and tomatoes on a bed of browning ice burg lettuce. Then, however, I wanted cheese, cheese and more cheese and that wasn't found in salad. I've been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old and for the first 8 years of my "meat-free life" I ate a lot of pasta, cheese, pizza and well, more cheese. Luckily, my outside's looked ok because I swam around 8000-10,000 yards 5 days a week(competitive swimming in HS and college), however, I could only imagine what all those frozen bagel bites (remember those?) and extra cheese slices of Papa John's did to my insides. When I was younger I would always order taco salads because well, they were so filling. I got my yummy cheese in the inside and I loved the crunch of the outside. Now, I know better. Thank goodness for a self-desire at the age of 20 to become a healthy vegetarian athlete.
Think twice (or 3 times) next time you order a taco salad (fast food or restaurant) for a healthy lunch/dinner...
Hardee's Taco Salad:
Calories - 1090
Fat - 80g
Saturated fat - 19g
Sodium - 1950mg

Taco Bell Taco Salad:
Calories - 850
Fat - 52g
Sodium - 2250mg

Comparison at Dunkin donuts:
3 Chocolate Kreme filled - 930 calories
25 Cinnamon Cake Munchkins - 75 grams fat

So, if you are in the mood for a taco salad, I created one just for you!

Chicken Taco Salad
Chicken breast
1/2 can chickpeas (you can use any type of bean)
1 cup corn
1/3 cup purple onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
Romaine lettuce
1 tbsp olive oil
Cayenne/pepper/chili flakes
Shredded cheese (taco, mexican)

1. Cook chicken breast to your liking. I used olive oil and lemon pepper. After cooking, remove from pan. If you have a vegetarian in the house, cook meat on another pan than veggies.
2. On a non-stick skillet, heat to medium high. Pour olive oil on pan.
3. Cook chickpeas, onions, corn and garlic until golden brown. Season with cayenne/pepper/chili flakes.
4. On a bed of lettuce, scoop a few spoonfuls veggie mixture on top.
5. Top with chicken. You can either cut the chicken into pieces or use strips of chicken.
6. Take your favorite chip/cracker (ex. garlic wheat thins or baked chips) and crumble a small handful chips on top.
7. Finish with a few spoonfuls salsa and shredded cheese (not pictured in my picture).

Vegetarian version:
Substitute veggie burger and 2 egg whites for the chicken.

*Chips/crackers aren't part of our staple diet but because Karel brought them home the other day when Native Sun catered the WOW Trek Sale on sat, I decided to incorporate them in a meal. No sense wasting them. I love using new ingredients/foods in recipes!