I love Panera Bread. It used to be one of my favorite restaurants before I went Paleo. I still like it, although my food options now are much more limited. In fact, I still meet a friend there for coffee once or twice a month before church. It’s a great place to just relax and “catch up.”
During college, Panera was my favorite hangout place. I would head over there about three days a week after class, order a cup of coffee, and settle in to do homework, frequently for hours at a time. Occasionally I’d order a bagel as well. If I really wanted to splurge or had some extra money, I would get a salad or soup in a bread bowl.
With free refills and free WiFi, I could stay caffeinated and get stuff done. Win-win. Panera probably didn’t love me as much as I loved them since I took up a table (typically near an electrical outlet) for hours and drained their coffee and WiFi (I didn’t usually drink more than two cups of coffee). It helped me through school though!
Although my idea of healthy is different from Panera’s, I’m still proud that as a company they carry several organic products and committed to buying chicken without antibiotics. The menu still looks appealing, too. That’s why when I saw the Strawberry Poppyseed Salad I knew I had to recreate it in a form that I could enjoy. It’s pretty clean as far as most restaurant salad options go, but there are still a few things I wanted to skip (especially the sugar in the dressing). So I looked up the nutritional information on the salad to get a good idea of the ingredients list and went to work! The result is a refreshing, fruity salad that pretty much tastes like summer.
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- 2 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
- Freshly sliced strawberries
- Fresh blueberries
- Fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
- 1 can mandarin oranges (without added sugar)
- ½ cup sliced pecans, toasted
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar for a tangier dressing)
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1½ teaspoons poppy seeds
- Combine spices and lemon zest for chicken. Sprinkle each side of the chicken with the spices and rub into the meat to evenly distribute. Toss spiced chicken with lemon juice and grill for a few minutes on each side until done, or bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.
- Slice chicken for serving.
- To prepare the poppyseed dressing, combine all dressing ingredients except the poppyseeds and blend with an immersion blender or blender until smooth and emulsified. Stir in poppyseeds.
- Serve salad with chicken and desired amount of fruit. I suggest a few whole strawberries, several blueberries and pineapple and 4-5 slices of mandarin oranges per serving -- or about ½ cup of fruit. Drizzle with desired amount of Poppyseed Dressing.