Cheering the Hell Up, Day 01: Strawberry-Chicken-Walnut Salad!

chicken-strawberry salad I play the sympathy card when it comes to me and the SCD, but make no mistake: the Specific Carbohydrate Diet* is ten billion-gazillion times (a) easier to follow; (b) lenient; and (c) tasty than 99.99% of the cockamamie diets out there. And it's healthy! And it doesn't make your breath smell like the three-day-old vomit of a furry mammal that crawled in your mouth and died somewheres around your midsection!

As the late, great Elaine Gottschall, standard-bearer and patron saint of the SCD, used to say when someone on the listserv would grouse about all the things we couldn't eat, "Stop complaining and think of all the wonderful foods we can enjoy!" And Elaine didn't even have to be on the SCD; she put herself on it in solidarity with her ulcerative colitis-afflicted daughter (who fully recovered from UC after two years on strict SCD).

One of the great things I can and do still enjoy on SCD that normal people like, too, is salad. True, the days of throwing a little brown rice (starch is a no-no) or feta (ditto, fresh cheeses) or tofu/beans (see "brown rice") are over, but there are puh-lenty of coolio things to throw in a bowl and call "lunch", especially in Southern California, especially in spring and summer.

The above pictured salad is my own variation on one I sampled at a terrific eatery in Ojai (whose name, alas, escapes me) a couple of years ago. It's primary components are chicken, strawberries and leafy greens, but it also serves as a great template for how to put together an "interesting" (i.e., non-iceberg, non-mixed-greens-with-a-cherry-tomato) salad in general.

The Communicatrix's SCD-Legal, Idiot-Proof Strawberry-Chicken-Walnut Salad

SALAD: 3 skinless chicken breasts 1 cup walnut pieces 1 pint strawberries 4-5 green onions 3 stalks celery 1 outrageously overpriced package fresh tarragon (or good handful from the garden) 1 package mixed baby greens (or lettuce of your choosing, or no damned lettuce)


5 tablespoons walnut oil 3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar

MAKE THE SALAD: Poach chicken breasts (simmer in water to cover with an optional bay leaf) until cooked, 5-10 minutes. Let cool. Chop into bite-sized, salad-y pieces.

Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven until golden-toasty brown, about 8 minutes, but keep an eye on them. They burn quickly! Let cool.

While this other stuff is going on, wash all your produce and dry it if you haven't. Then...

Slice off strawberry tops and discard; slice remaining strawberry into 1/4" (or nice, salad-y sized) pieces.

Slice off ratty part of scallion and celery tops and the roots; slice remaining bits into 1/4" ( get the idea) pieces.

Chop up that tarragon, sistah!

Arrange lettuce in large, shallow bowl. Strew chicken pieces, walnut pieces, strawberry slices, scallions, celery and tarragon on top.

Purists can whisk the walnut oil and vinegar together first; I just sprinkle the oil and then the vinegar right on top of the salad because I am LAZY and have a TINY KITCHEN with no room for DIRTY DISHES.


More importantly, this recipe serves as a kind of template for an easy, protein-based salad. The general idea is to have:

1. a protein for substance (cooked, cut-up chicken or beef or pork; grilled, meaty fish like tuna or swordfish; shellfish like cooked shrimp or scallops or crab)

2. a fruit, fresh or dried, that goes with it, for sweetness (think lighter with chicken, strawberries, grapes, pears; heartier fruits like apples, oranges and grapefruit work with beef)

3. a toasted nut for variety and omega-3 (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pignolias, etc)

4. greens to fill things out and keep things moving down the chute

5. an onion, for snap (scallions, thinly-sliced sweet onion or red onion or maybe shallots, lightly sauteed or not)

6. veggie "filler" to get your 5-7/day (cukes, celery, radishes; tomatoes; carrots, although you'd probably want curls, like you'd make with a vegetable peeler, so they don't overwhelm; roasted, sliced beets, if you dig 'em, although they can be overpowering and/or central to a salad, so you might want to adjust other ingredients; etc.) NOTE: sometimes the fruit and the veggie filler together can be like wearing all your jewelry at once, not so tasteful. Try to imagine the flavors of your favorite salads before you throw in everything willy-nilly.

7. a dressing (hearty for beef/pork, wine vinegar & olive oil & dijo, or an SCD-legal yogurt-based blue-cheese dressing; lighter for the others, some light vinegar like cider or white wine and olive oil always works)

8. complementary, preferably fresh, herb (tarragon, basil, rosemary, cilantro, etc; pronounce the "h" if you are a Brit, don't if you're a Yank)


9. a tasty cheese for fatty goodness! (any SCD-legal, cuisine-appropriate thang, thinly-sliced cheddar, swiss, parmesan, asiago, manchego, etc.; non-SCDers can also opt for feta with a Greek-type salad or bufalo mozzarella with an Italian chix/tomato/basil salad)

I like to mix up all the stuff except the greens in quantity, then add greens and nibble off of it for a day or two. The flavors get more concentrated the second day, but the dressing will wilt the greens.

Enjoy it with your favorite beverage and just TRY being crabby. I dare you...

xxx c

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