Lets talk about lunch. Basic, necessary, everyday lunch.
You know, the meal that happens right smack in the middle of the day… after soccer camp, before speech lessons, and during the baby’s nap.
I hate making lunch. I tend to start making a lunch plan when everyone is already hungry and cranky, never before. I’m trying to break this habit, but for some reason the words “plan ahead” don’t exist for me in the realm of lunches. I have no problem planning elaborate dinners, grab and go breakfasts, and packing healthy snacks, but planning what’s for lunch before 11:45? Crazy talk. My bad attitude towards lunch often leads to a trip through Panera, costing a whopping $25 dollars for the boys and I to eat food that is less than nutritionally ideal.
I have ordered the same salad at Panera for at least 5 years. I don’t even know what else is on the menu! Adventurous is definitely not the word to describe my menu choices. I have had grand intentions of making a cleaned up and cheaper version at home for at least a year, but the word Thai was intimidating. Today I faced my fears. Over and over again. The Thai peanut sauce took some trial and error, but I prevailed. I present… my version of Thai chopped chicken salad!
Romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, red peppers, carrots, fresh cilantro, and crunchy peanuts tossed in lime juice and drizzled with a Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce. Refined sugar and hydrogenated oil free. This salad is made of whole food ingredients! Best part .. you can put it into mason jars.. which will make you feel like a Pinteresty Domestic Divia (or is that just me ?).
Mason jar salads are a bit of an art form. Seriously, you don’t want to mess up the order of the ingredients or you will have a soggy mess!
- Dressing (thai peanut sauce)
- Grains and/or protein (chicken)
- Sturdy produce (peppers, cabbage, carrots)
- Delicate/leafy (romaine lettuce)
- Extras (peanuts)
Time Saving Tips and Tricks:
- Thai peanut sauce can be made ahead of time in stored in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container. If you notice that it has solidified because of the olive oil just remove it from the fridge and allow it to come back to room temperature. Add a little water and stir if necessary.
- Veggies can be pre-chopped/shredded. I used a food processor to save myself the chopping. You could just buy a bag of pre-cut cole slaw veggies to save time.
- Chicken can be pre-cooked or even left over from a previous dinner.
- Follow recipe. Assemble extra salads in mason jars as described above. It’s ready when you are!
- THAI PEANUT SAUCE:
- ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
- 6 TBS olive oil
- ¼ cup water
- 2 TBS honey
- 4 TBS lime juice, divided
- 2 TBS rice vinegar
- 1½ TBS Bragg's liquid aminos (soy sauce substitute)
- 1 TBS ginger, minced
- ½ TBS garlic, minced
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes, more if desired
- ¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
- THAI CHICKEN SALAD LAYERS: (
- 5 chicken breasts, prepared
- 1 head purple cabbage, shredded
- 3 red peppers, chopped
- 5 carrots, chopped
- 2 large heads of romaine lettuce, shredded
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup peanuts, chopped
- THAI PEANUT SAUCE: Combine peanut butter, olive oil, water, honey, 2 TBS of lime juice, rice vinegar, liquid amino, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and sea salt. In a high speed blender or food processor blend the ingredients until they are completely incorporated. Add water to achieve desired consistency.
- THAI CHICKEN SALAD (MASON JAR): Pour 2 TBS of thai peanut sauce into jar. Layer chicken, cabbage, red peppers, carrots, romaine lettuce, cilantro and peanuts. Seal jar. Refrigerate. Prior to eating remove jar from the refrigerator. Allow salad to come to room temperature. Squeeze remaining 2 TBS of lime juice over the contents of the jar. Shake well. Enjoy!
- The Thai Peanut Sauce is delicious on EVERYTHING. Mixed with grains, veggie topper, mixed into turkey burgers.. you get the idea. Making a double batch really isn’t any extra work and then you have leftovers! The dressing can be frozen and thawed as needed. Simply fill a freezer friendly mason jar with your finished dressing and pop it in the fridge. When you are ready, allow it to sit on the counter for a few hours and come to room temperature.
- The dressing gets a lot thicker when it comes straight from the fridge. You can add a bit of water to thin it, or heat it in the microwave for a few seconds.
- This salad is forgiving! If you don’t have purple cabbage, skip it. Like bean sprouts.. add em. Vegan or vegetarian? Simply skip on the chicken and add beans or tofu. You get the idea, make it your own!
Looking for more healthy whole-food recipes? Check out Simply Sissom on Pinterest. If you like it, follow! New pins are added daily from my favorite bloggers from around the web!
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