I love making all kinds of salads in the summer months. Salads that are bursting with flavour and filled with a variety of fresh ingredients. Back in my waitressing days I worked at a restaurant that had an amazing caesar salad that I enjoyed often. I still crave that salad a lot but can’t have it due to my food intolerances, so in order to satisfy that hankering I’ve made this delicious and healthy caesar salad with chicken!
Not only is my version gluten free and dairy free, it also contains added superfoods and tasty ingredients you would not usually find in a run-of-the-mill caesar salad. My focus for this healthier version was to add omega-rich fats, even more veggies, and great flavour.
Caesar salads are known to be on the “heavier” side, typically doused with a rich dressing, parmesan cheese and topped with buttery and baked (or sometimes fried!) croutons… definitely isn’t “light”!
While there is nothing wrong with dietary fats (and I firmly believe we NEED fat in our diet), I do like to choose healthy omega-rich fats for their health boosting benefits. In my healthy caesar salad there’s lots of omega-rich fats that come from the dairy-free parmesan “cheese” made sneakily with cashew nuts, a nice sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and the addition of hemp seeds!
Along with the nuts and seeds, and their essential fatty acid power, I decided to add kale to the romaine lettuce to make up my salad base. Kale as a salad base on it’s own can sometimes be a bit overpowering with its bitter flavour and dense texture, so mixing the kale 50/50 with the romaine works really well.
Kale is actually known to be one of most nutrient dense foods on the planet! It’s loaded with vitamin C and A, calcium, magnesium, and fibre, and adds a more filling factor to this healthy caesar salad.
I also added juicy cherry tomatoes for even more veggie goodness. My hubby made a comment during his official taste test mentioning that caesar salads don’t typically have tomatoes, but this isn’t a typical caesar salad!
For protein I chose to include roasted chicken breast and nitrate-free homemade bacon bits. If you are prefer a vegetarian version or are making this healthy caesar salad as a side to a main dish you can definitely omit the chicken. For a main meal however, the added chicken breast and bacon bring in more oomph!
Last, but not least, the dressing.
Now, I’ll be totally honest… I didn’t make my own. I’m the mother of a 1-year-old… I only have so many free hours in the day. While I do make many things homemade, including dressings, this time I opted to go for my favourite Earth Island Organic Vegan Caesar Dressing, which also happens to be a gluten free caesar dressing as well!
I’m sure someday when miss Hemsley isn’t a mini version of the Tasmanian devil I’ll get back to making my own homemade dressings, in the meantime I’ll go with the best prepared options out there. If you want to make your own healthy caesar salad dressing for this recipe I would highly suggest this 5-minute dressing from Minimalist Baker!
This summer I hope you get the chance to create and enjoy many delicious and fresh salads. Maybe we can call it The Summer of Salads?? If you are into that idea be sure to put my healthy caesar salad with chicken on your must-make list!
In what ways do you “healthify” your favourite meals? Do you “lighten them up” or add in superfoods? I’d love to read about it in the comments below!
- 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 4 cups chopped kale
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped (about 16 ounces total)
- 4 strips of nitrate-free organic bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled into small bits
- ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons raw hemp seeds
- ½ large lemon
- ⅓ cup your favourite gluten and dairy free caesar dressing** (I used Earth Island brand)
- Easy Cashew Parmesan
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- Gluten Free Croutons
- 3 slices of your favourite gluten free bread (I used Udi's Gluten Free Multigrain)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- Prepare the croutons. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut bread into cubes and add to a large bowl.
- Drizzle in the olive oil, add the salt and pepper, then toss to coat.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spread the bread cubes over the pan and bake for 10 minutes, toss, then bake for another 5 minutes or until browned.
- Remove from oven, let cool and set aside.
- Next, prepare the cashew parmesan by adding the parmesan ingredients to a small food processor and process on high for 30 seconds until fine and slightly crumbly, using a spatula remove the parmesan from the processor and set aside.
- Prepare the salad by adding the lettuce, kale, tomatoes, hemp seeds, gluten free croutons, bacon bits, and chopped chicken breast to a bowl.
- Squeeze in the juice of ½ a lemon and add in the dressing.
- Toss well to combine.
- Divide the salad into 4 bowls then sprinkle each salad with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and 1 tablespoon of the cashew parmesan.
- Garnish each salad with a slice of lemon and enjoy!
Have a wonderful Sunday, be sure to PIN this RECIPE for later below!
Christal // NITK