Easy Chopped Thai Salad – Perfect for a Weeknight or Lunch Prep-Ahead Meal

I love a good salad! This one is perfect with Thai Chili Chicken Wings or pre-seasoned pork tenderloin for an easy weeknight meal, or use it as a prep-ahead lunch. The edamame and peanuts add protein, so it’s an easy, vegan option. It’s also Whole 30, Gluten Free and Keto friendly, which means it’s healthy and full of good-for-you ingredients!

I kept this recipe super simple by using pre-cut slaw, however, you can definitely chop your own. In the photos, I chopped it myself. Our area is still having supply-chain issues following a recent hurricane. I included kale, purple cabbage, Nappa cabbage, and shaved Brussels sprouts when I make it myself. This was a lot of salad, so I doubled the dressing recipe.

Here’s what you’ll need.

For the Salad:

  • 1/2 bag broccoli slaw
  • 1/2 bag tricolor coleslaw blend
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers (I prefer the colorful ones)
  • 1 bag frozen, shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup diced cilantro
  • 3-4 chopped green onions
  • Roasted, salted peanuts for garnish

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (if using low-sodium, add 1 tsp salt)
  • 1 tablespoon white rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemongrass (substitute ginger if it’s not available)
  • juice from 1 lime

Assemble the Ingredients

To start, microwave the edamame in a shallow bowl for about 4 minutes until it is hot, but not overcooked.

In a large bowl, assemble all of the salad ingredients, except the peanuts. For a pretty presentation, separate the ingredients into groups. Then mix it all together when you’re ready to serve it.

Oops I added the peanuts! It’s better if you put them on top when you’re done.

Next, assemble the dressing in a microwave-safe container. I like to use a glass measuring cup. Microwave the dressing for 1-2 minutes to warm it and release the flavors.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss together before serving.

Photo credit goes to Mr. Bayou for this action shot.
So pretty!
I garnished the pork tenderloin and salad with a little extra sriracha sauce. I like it spicy!

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try this recipe!

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Baked Parsnip “Fries” – Trust me, just TRY them!

I know what you’re thinking! These parsnip fries are good! Plus they’re healthy, Whole 30 and keto compliant, and super simple. I’d compare them to homemade sweet potato fries, but better.

I can barely even call this one a recipe because it’s so easy. Parsnips are the perfect side dish to for burgers, but I would eat them anytime. I love the slightly spicy flavor, and roasting really brings out their sweetness.

Lettuce-wrapped burger, parsnip fries and asparagus — sounds like a great meal to me!

What is a parsnip?

Parsnips are really more of a fall vegetable, but you can usually find them year-round.

Parsnips look like a white carrot, but they are actually part of the parsley family. Cook them in the same ways as you would cook a carrot: roasted, boiled, steamed, etc. You can take the skin off before cooking, but I usually leave it on. I like the stronger flavor and texture. Make sure you scrub them well before cooking.

Here’s the Recipe

Don’t they kind of look like little worms? I love it!

After you wash and dry the veggies, chop them into long 1/2″ strips, about the size of a thick French fry. Toss them in a bowl with some olive oil, and sprinkle them with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. You can prep these ahead of time, but make sure that they get a good coating of olive oil.

I don’t measure, I just make sure the fries have enough to flavor.

Spread the fries in a single layer onto a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. I find that using parchment helps them get a little more crispy. Bake on 425 for about 20 minutes. If you need to reheat the parsnips, I recommend using the toaster oven.

The Bayou Boys will actually eat these, but I’d make them just for me.

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try this recipe!

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Chickpea Summer Salad

This Chickpea Summer Salad is just right when you’re craving a light side dish or meal. I served it with grilled chicken to add some extra protein. With tons of veggies and just a few carbs, this is a great option for a keto diet or anyone watching their carbs. If you’re doing the Whole 30 diet or limiting dairy, omit the feta cheese.

Prepare the Ingredients

  • Before you begin cutting the veggies, make sure to cook the quinoa. It is fine to add it to the salad warm, but if it’s too hot, it will melt the feta cheese. I usually cook 2 cups at a time and place the extra in the freezer for later.
  • Dice the avocados into small bites, and add them to a large mixing bowl. Squeeze 1/2 a lemon over the avocado to prevent it from turning brown.
For the freshest avocados, ripen them near bananas. Then, store the avocados in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.
  • Canned chickpeas do not have to be cooked, but they taste much better when rinsed thoroughly with warm water. This is a necessary step! Add those to the bowl as well.
  • Next, chop up your veggies. The cucumber is best when cut into small bites. I cut it lengthwise into quarters, and then slice it.
I prefer English cucumbers, but two regular cucumbers will work. Just make sure to remove most of the peel.
  • Dice the red (or yellow) bell pepper into small bites, and cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Add both to the bowl.
  • Once the quinoa has cooled some, add it as well. If using the feta cheese, add it to the bowl.
Any type of quinoa works in this recipe, but the tri-color is my favorite.
  • Finally, add the chopped Italian parsley. Cilantro will also work.

My “Secret” Ingredient

The Greek Seasoning is available at my Walmart, but you can also find it on Amazon.

Now, it’s time to mix up the dressing for this salad. I used olive oil and white wine vinegar, but red wine vinegar will also work. Add the salt, pepper, onion powder, and my “secret” ingredient, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning. Mix those together before tossing with the salad. Garnish with a little extra feta cheese on top.

I could eat this every single day.

This would be great as a prep-ahead lunch or to add to a meal. Chickpea Summer Salad has 309 calories per serving (assuming 6 servings). The macros are 21 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of protein.

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try making this! I’d love to know how it turns out.

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Superfood Salad: A Nutrient Dense Make-Ahead Lunch or Side Dish

This healthy lunch or side salad is packed with ingredients that fight cancer and heart disease. The term “superfood” is more of a marketing gimmick than a nutritional category, but the foods in this meal are definitely good ones to include in your diet. Also, there’s no lettuce in this salad, so it’s a nice change of pace. It’s good for gluten-free, Whole 30, keto, or low-carb diets, just watch out for extra sugars in the dressing.

What Makes This a “Superfood” Salad?

Here’s why I’m calling this a Superfood Salad, even though that may be a misleading name.

  • Cruciferous vegetables like the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals, which may prevent against some types of cancer. Also dark, leafy greens, like the kale in this salad, are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. (source)
  • Chia seeds are high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Fun fact, “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” (source)
  • Walnuts are a good source of plant protein, high in fiber, and contain monounsaturated fats. They can also help prevent heart disease and fight inflammation. (source)
  • Blueberries are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and disease-fighting nutrients. They can help fight inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. (source)
  • Pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are a rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and magnesium, which can help regulate blood sugar. (source)

How to Prep the Veggies

How you chop these veggies can make or break this salad. For the broccoli, slice the florets into thin strips, rather than chopping into bites. It will taste better with the other ingredients.

When using kale, I prefer to buy it whole rather than chopped. I fold the leaf in half, and cut out the center rib. This keeps it from being as bitter.

Removing the center rib on the kale makes it more palatable.

For the Brussels sprouts, chop off the ends, then cut them in half. Slice them very thin. The thinner, the better.

Slice the Brussels sprouts as thin as possible.

Finally, make sure to toast the walnuts. They taste much sweeter and nuttier after being toasted. I make a little foil “boat” and stick them in the toaster oven for about four minutes.

You can also toast them on a pan in the oven, but this is less cleanup.

Assembling the Salad

In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Mix those together. If you’re making this for lunches, divide the salad into three containers. If it’s going to be a side salad, divide it into four or five bowls.

I used three of these plastic containers. I used a small metal cup to hold the dressing.

Next, add the berries, walnuts, and chia seeds (dividing them among the containers). This keeps all those yummy ingredients from falling to the bottom. Add a healthy vinaigrette dressing when you’re ready to serve the salad.

For my lunch portions, I put the dressing in a little metal container (from Walmart), cover with plastic wrap, and store it inside the salad container (also Walmart).

Salad Dressing

You can make your own dressing or use a bottled vinaigrette. If I’m using a bottled one, I look for a low sugar content and natural ingredients. I like the one below, but I do find it a little on the sweet side.

This dressing is a good option, but it does have a small amount of added sugar.

I like to make my own using the recipe below. I just add the ingredients to a small mason jar, and shake it up before using it.

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

You could add a little feta cheese to make the salad even tastier, but it would add calories. Another option would be to add a boiled egg or chicken breast to boost the protein content.

Superfood Salad has 361 calories per lunch-sized serving (without dressing). What is impressive is the 9 grams of fiber and all the Vitamin A and C you need for a day! The macros are 26 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of protein.

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try making this! I’d love to know how it turns out.

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Entertaining Must-Have: Shrimp Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers with Bacon

What’s a keto-friendly, gluten-free appetizer that everyone will love? These Shrimp Stuffed Peppers with Bacon. If you’re having people over for dinner, look no further for an appetizer that is sure to impress your guests.

Full disclosure here — this is actually a Mr. Bayou recipe. He’s usually the one in charge of the grill, and he perfected this dish. You can buy these already prepared at many grocery stores, but they’re pricey. This recipe is a much more affordable option, albeit somewhat labor intensive.

Maybe it’s my Louisiana roots, but I can’t get enough of spicy food. Not everyone in the Bayou home agrees, however, so feel free to substitute jalapeños with a milder pepper, such as banana peppers or poblanos.

I found this useful graphic on the Taste of Home website, here. They also went into detail about each type of pepper, if you’re looking for more information.

Information About Jalapeños

Jalapeños range in heat a lot, from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units. The Scoville Heat Index is used to measure the chemical capsaicin—more capsaicin means a hotter pepper (source). While jalapeños are certainly spicy, they don’t come close to other peppers like the ones on the top of the chart above. Interestingly, most of the heat in a jalapeño is found in the membrane, so by removing it, your peppers will be much milder. Even so, the spiciness varies greatly from pepper to pepper. Finally, consider this your warning: peppers at the end of the growing season tend to be the spiciest, so taste with caution if you’re sensitive to a little extra heat.

Preparing the Peppers

No matter what peppers you decide to use, you’ll need to prep them first. If you have an abundance of peppers on hand like we did, you can prepare a large batch of slice peppers in advance and freeze them to use later. I recommend wearing gloves when handling them to prevent transferring the spice to other things. The simplest method is to rinse the peppers, cut off the stem, cut in half, and use your finger to scoop the membranes and seeds.

Recipe Instructions

Once your peppers are ready to go, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Preheat the oven to 425 if you’re planning to bake them, or you can heat the grill to medium heat (about 375).

Cut the pepper jack cheese into slices about 1/8”x1/8”x2”, or about the size of a French fry. For larger peppers, you may need a little more cheese.

We used a variety of peppers for this batch, thanks to my in-laws garden.

Set the cheese inside the peppers. We used pepper jack, but cheddar or Colby jack would also taste great. Next, add peeled, deveined 30-40 count shrimp. For smaller peppers, cut the shrimp to fit.

Cut the shrimp if needed to fit in the peppers.

Finally, wrap each pepper with thin-sliced bacon. For smaller peppers cut the bacon in half, making sure there is enough bacon to wrap around it fully.

Ready to cook! You can stop here if you’re preparing them in advance.

Either grill them on medium until the bacon is crispy, or bake them at 425 for about 17 mins. I like to set them on a few paper towels to absorb some of the extra bacon grease.

If you have teen boys running around, I suggest hiding these until the guests arrive, or else your delicious appetizer might disappear!

This recipe can easily be prepared a day in advance until you’re ready to cook them. I served these with Parmesan Chicken Wings (recipe coming soon!), roasted asparagus spears (coming soon), and sweet potatoes for a delicious meal.

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try making this! I’d love to know how it turns out.

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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts – The Perfect Side Dish

If you had told me a few years ago that I’d like brussels sprouts, I would have thought you were crazy! Now I crave them.

This recipe is keto, Whole 30, gluten-free…. all the things because it’s so simple and only has a few ingredients. By slicing the sprouts thin, you avoid the common issues with cooking brussels sprouts: mushy or undercooked centers. Also, the balsamic vinegar cuts the bitter taste and makes them slightly sweet.

One caveat: your kitchen will smell like cabbage. Trust me– you won’t care once you taste them.

FYI, I did some research before writing this post. The brussels sprout earned its name from being popular in Brussels, France. They are a member of the brassica family, closely related to kale, cauliflower, and mustard greens. In addition, brussels sprouts are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. (source)

I usually buy brussels sprouts at Costco, and this recipe uses about half a bag (about 1 pound). To begin, slice the sprouts about into thirds or fourths, discarding the hard stems.

This part is a little time consuming, but I think it’s well worth it. Just put on some good music!

Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, and add the brussels sprouts. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Bayou Blonde Tip: I never measure olive oil. I have dispenser on my glass jar, and I just eyeball it.

Allow the sprouts to cook for about five minutes until they are starting to brown on the bottom. Give them a stir, and spread them out again in an even layer. Let them cook for about five more minutes, or until they are browned slightly (see the picture below).

See those brown parts… that’s what you want.

Now, remove the brussels sprouts from the heat, and add two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Stir it all together, and serve.

This is a great side dish with steaks, burgers, chicken, pork, etc. It pretty much goes with any protein. For the easiest meal ever, pick up a rotisserie chicken, and roast some baby potatoes in the oven while you make this. A small glass of red wine is optional.

Here’s a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try these! I’d love to know how they turned out.

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Healthy Cinco de Mayo Recipes: Guacamole, Easy Shrimp Fajitas and Fresh, Simple No-Sugar Margaritas

Plan an easy Cinco de Mayo meal that fits into your healthy diet. Full of fresh flavors and clean ingredients, these recipes will not disappoint. Each of these is easy to adapt to Whole 30, keto, or low-carb lifestyles.

Click on the links below to download the printable PDF recipes, or read on for step-by-step instructions.

Fresh Guacamole

For starters, whip up this Fresh Guacamole to munch on while you cook. I use three medium avocados in this recipe. No matter how many avocados I use, we never seem to have leftover guacamole. It’s always gone!

This recipe hinges on good avocados. You can tell if an avocado is ripe when the stem piece at the end comes off easily. They should also be a little soft when you squeeze them. You can ripen avocados in a paper bag, or store them near bananas. The bananas release a gas that helps them ripen. Once they are ripe, move the avocados to the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. This will help them last much longer.

To begin the recipe, cut the avocados in half, and remove the seed. Then, slice the avocados in grid (shown above), and use a spoon to scoop the pieces into a bowl.

Mash the avocados with a potato masher. Add juice from 1/2 a lime, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix those ingredients together.

Cut a handful (6-8) cherry tomatoes into quarters. Place them inside two folded paper towels, and gently soak up the excess juice and seeds. Add these to the mixing bowl.

Next, remove the cilantro leaves from the stalks, and chop the leaves. You should have about 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves.

Mix the ingredients and serve with tortilla chips or veggies to dip.

I usually eat this dip with celery sticks or colorful bell peppers cut into slices. Of course the rest of my crew likes it with chips.

Easy Shrimp Fajitas

Up next for our Cinco feast, we are making Easy Shrimp Fajitas. These are completely from scratch, and easy to adapt to Whole 30, Keto, and low-carb.

This recipe is so simple because the fajitas are made completely in the oven on one sheet pan, making cleanup a breeze.

To begin, preheat the oven to 375, and slice a red onion and two bell peppers into strips. I prefer to use red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, but green would also work. This picture below shows how I slice an onion. I’m not sure if it’s the “right” way, but it works for me. If you leave the roots on the onion until the end, it stays together better and doesn’t smell as strongly.

Once your onions and peppers are ready, line a sheet pan with foil. Drizzle olive oil over the foil to keep your veggies from sticking. Spread out the peppers and onions on the pan, and place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the fajita mix in a small bowl. The recipe calls for sugar and cornstarch. This part is not technically keto or Whole 30, but it’s a very small amount in the total recipe. If you’re being super careful, you could omit these.

I keep all of the spices for this recipe on hand. They are in almost all of my Mexican recipes.

After 10 minutes, take the peppers and onions out of the oven. Make sure the shrimp are thawed and ready. If you need to, use a few paper towels and pat them dry. Spread the shrimp over the veggies and sprinkle with the seasoning. Top with two more tablespoons of olive oil and toss to mix. Spread it back out onto the pan, and cook for 12-14 minutes. You can tell the shrimp are done when they are firm and no longer pink.

While the shrimp cook, prepare the fajita toppings. I like to serve shrimp fajitas with flour tortillas, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, and shredded lettuce. Usually, I will eat this as a salad (shown below) or over cauliflower rice.

My go-to way to eat this meal is as a salad. I just pile the ingredients on high.

Add some black beans or corn as a side to finish off the meal if you’d like. It’s also great with steamed vegetables.

Fresh, Simple No-Sugar Margaritas

These aren’t exactly Keto or Whole 30, but they are pretty close. If you’re looking for a sugary, sweet frozen margarita, this isn’t the recipe for you. Note: This recipe is for one cocktail.

I use fresh citrus juice, natural sweeteners, and tequila for a refreshing cocktail that is full of vitamin C.

To make these, a cocktail shaker and some type of citrus juicer are really needed.

To begin, roll the citrus fruits onto the counter under your palm to soften them and make them easier to juice. Slice each fruit in half, and reserve a lime slice to garnish. Next, use a juicer to squeeze the fruit juices into a bowl or large measuring cup. Add three teaspoons of monkfruit sweetener (more if you prefer a sweeter drink) and two ounces of tequila. Fill the shaker almost completely with ice, and add the drink mixture. Cover and shake the cocktails for about a minute. This is actually the secret to the best cocktails — it gets them really cold and mixes the flavors.

I use monkfruit sweetener in this recipe because it’s all natural, zero calories, and doesn’t have an unusual aftertaste. If you’d rather use real sugar, a mixture of simple syrup is also fine.

I typically buy Hornitos Plata Tequila, but you can use whatever you prefer. This recipe makes one large margarita. Garnish with a lime slice, fun straw, and a drink umbrella topper to make it more festive.

I hope you have an amazing Cinco de Mayo, and let me know if you try these recipes! I’d love to hear your feedback.

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