My teenaged daughter. Don’t you love when a post starts with “my teenaged daughter”? I’m sure all of you with teenagers know what is coming next. My teenaged daughter has a complicated relationship with food. Loves all sweets, but historically she’s much more picky when it comes to food with any nutritional benefit. (Read on to learn all about where we went wrong with teaching her to eat!) So when she recently found a salad at a local restaurant that she liked, I raced to recreate it so she could eat it at home. And although it’s not exactly the same, Asian Chicken Salad with Grilled Vegetables was a hit with everyone, but especially with my teenaged daughter. #momwin
This Asian Chicken Salad with Grilled Vegetables may be the key to a healthy teenager over the summer when she is eating lunch at home, instead of at school. But there were many years she wouldn’t have dreamed of eating this beautiful salad. Getting her to eat vegetables has been a hard fought battle. A battle that I think we’ve finally won.
For all of you who do not yet have teenagers, I am going to give you a piece of unsolicited advice. (And I know what you’re thinking, “who does she think she is giving us advice”?) But trust me, learn from my mistakes, it will save you much grief in the future. Fight the battle before they are able to talk. Just get it out of the way. In fact if you have it early enough, you may not have a battle at all!
When my now teenaged daughter was learning to eat my husband and I were busy getting our careers off of the ground. We had limited time to spend on cooking elaborate dinners so we indulged her pickiness. She’ll eat buttered noodles? Buttered noodles it is. She’ll eat chicken fingers? Chicken fingers it is. And usually from the nearest fast casual restaurant. She didn’t like a food the one time it was offered to her? Banish it from the menu forever…we just didn’t have the time or mental energy to argue with our tiny terrorist.
So no surprise we had a food nightmare on our hands right?
But there is another way…a much easier way!
We were lucky enough to get another chance at this 8 years later when we had our son. By then we were settled in our careers, had much more time to ensure good habits were being formed…and most importantly I had discovered that I loved to cook. Our son ate what we ate, just in slightly different form. If we were having beef stew, I threw some in the food processor and he ate beef stew also. Same thing with ginger beef, chicken noodle soup, chicken pot pie, you name it, if we were eating it, so was he. If it didn’t have honey in it, into the food processor it went, and then into his happy belly. NO EXTRA MEALS TO COOK!
Another win? Our son had a Polish nanny. She liked to cook and eat ethnic Polish food and he always want to eat exactly what she was eating. She made him dill pickle soup, pierogies, borscht. The kid had amazing offerings! Flavors galore! And he ate it…because, wait for it….it was good, real, food!
In fact, he had become such a foodie, he wouldn’t eat jarred baby food. We were staying at a friend’s lake home one weekend and we had gone out with a realtor to look for our own lake home. It was getting late and we were all starving. We were at least 30 minutes from where I had left his pureed food in their refrigerator, so we decided to just pick up some premade baby food from the grocery store and then head to the pizza joint a block away. Would that kid eat the chicken that was in that jar? No he would not. But he happily ate my husband’s BBQ chicken pizza, because, really…it’s all about flavor! (Disclaimer, I tried that chicken in a jar, holy moly it was terrible! I may have had better luck with a fruit)
My own research showed me there was an easy way to create a good eater (early in life)…and a hard way to create a good eater (later in life).
We finally had the battle with our (at that time 9 year old) daughter. Once our son arrived, I was no longer a short order cook. I couldn’t be a short order cook while working full time, caring for a newborn, and keeping up with my daughter’s activities, there just weren’t enough hours in the day! It was time she ate what we ate. It took persistence, (and wasn’t a ton of fun) but our persistence paid off. Turns out the more she was exposed to a food, the more likely she was to eat it. She also did better when she knew there weren’t options, there was one meal and we were serious that she would be hungry if she didn’t eat it. (We did try to make sure there was at least one side that she liked, and we did not generally offer her cheese which at age 3 she had declared a NEVER food. To this day she still will not eat cheese! ) These days, now a teenager, she’ll eat salmon and roasted broccoli. She’ll eat roasted carrots and fish tacos. She’ll eat flank steak and green beans. She is becoming a more adventurous eater, but finding things that she’ll eat at home while we’re at work gets tedious.
We’re now looking for options that she can throw together while she is home in the summer that involve some decent nutrition. This Asian Chicken Salad with Grilled Vegetables fits the bill because we can grill the chicken and vegetables on Sunday afternoon and she can make the dressing and throw it all together during the beginning of the week. It’s chock full of good nutrition and lean protein. You could add more or different vegetables as your tastes desire. Remove the chicken and it is a completely vegetarian meal. It all comes together nicely with a dressing packed with citrus and ginger.
My picky teenaged daughter gave this two thumbs up. As did my husband, my son and my inlaws! Mom for the win!
You’re probably going to want to Pin this one to your favorite Pinterest Board!
Asian Chicken Salad with Grilled Vegetables
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 5 ounces Spring Mix
- 1/2 cup edamame
- 4 carrots halved lengthwise
- 6 mini bell peppers halved lengthwise
- 1 cucumber sliced and then cut into quarters
- 1 cup wonton strips
To Make the Chicken and Vegetables:
Put chicken breasts in a ziploc bag. Add soy sauce to bag.
In a small bowl combine brown sugar, garlic powder, ginger and cayenne pepper.
Pour spices over the chicken in bag and massage bag to ensure that chicken breasts are coated.
Allow chicken to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
Drizzle vegetable pieces with olive oil so they do not stick to your grill grates.
Grill chicken breasts over direct heat for 5-6 minutes a side or until cooked through.
Remove from grill. Allow chicken to rest for 10-20 minutes, and then slice.
Grill vegetable pieces over direct heat for 10-12 minutes or until they are softened.
Remove from grill and allow to cool.
To Make Dressing:
Add orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, jalapeno, brown sugar and ginger to a food processor or high speed blender.
Blend until smooth.
Stream oil into dressing mixture to create an emulsification.
Pour dressing into a glass container (this can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, it will need to be brought to room temperature before using).
Shake if dressing separates.
To Assemble Salad:
Put Spring Mix into a bowl or onto a plate.
Layer edamame, grilled carrots, grilled peppers, cucumbers, grilled chicken and grilled wonton strips.
Drizzle with the dressing.