20 Mar Satay Chopped Chicken Salad Recipe
Pineapple –Your Meal Prep Pal
If you follow the hashtag #mealprep on Instagram you’ll see tons of posts of neatly packed meals in plastic containers. Usually containing a riff on grilled chicken breasts, broccoli and brown rice. Well-balanced, albeit slightly monotonous, meals for weekday lunches and dinners.
If you don’t mind eating the same lunch in work every day, then this type of meal prep is ideal. I wish I could do it, but I get bored eating the same thing day after day. Probably due to many years teaching cooking and marking students’ work. I want a bit of variety in texture, colour, crunch and cuisine. Not to mention the childlike anticipation of looking forward to a really good lunchbox.
So while I may make a batch of muesli bars and one or two jar salads that are the same, I tend to prep ingredients that can be used in a variety of ways throughout the week. I find this is the best way to use up fresh produce that might otherwise go to waste. You have to make a plan to use it, otherwise it will languish in the salad drawer or fruit bowl and spoil.
As a citrus farmers’ daughter, I love fruit, especially ‘naartjies’ (clementines) and any tropical fruit. I would classify fruit such as naartjies, apples, bananas, grapes and pears as ‘grab ‘n go’ fruit. They don’t need any prep, are easy to transport and eat on the go. Other fruits such as melons, pineapples and mangoes require a bit of prep. Don’t let this put you off, as a few minutes with a good knife will set you up with delicious fruit for the week.
Most weeks I will chop up a pineapple and use it in various ways. Pineapples are an interesting fruit as they can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes, making them truly versatile. The diced fruit can also be successfully frozen for use in smoothies and dishes where it will be cooked, such as an Hawaiian pizza.
It has been drummed into us that we should be consuming at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. And in countries such as Australia and Norway, the recommended food policy encourages seven servings a day made up of five servings of vegetables and two of fruit. I find it much easier to incorporate plenty of fruit and veg when I use them in creative ways, such as fruit in savoury salads, and I make a plan to use them.
Pineapple is a highly nutritious fruit brimming with Vitamin C, fibre and bromelain, which aids digestion. And at only 76 calories a cup, it really does pack a lot of flavour, refreshing juiciness and is quite filling.
Here are some ways that I use my prepped pineapple during the week:
1) Pina Colada Smoothie : I blend 1 cup of diced pineapple with 1 frozen banana, 1 cup of coconut milk, a dash of vanilla extract and honey or maple syrup to taste. Thin down with cold water if needed.
2) Tropical Porridge : Cook up your favourite porridge as usual, adding a few pineapple chunks, vanilla extract and desiccated coconut halfway through the cooking time.
3) Chocolate Pineapple Treat : Dip pineapple rings in melted dark chocolate and sprinkle over toasted coconut. Allow to set, store in the fridge, and enjoy as a fruity treat.
4) Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken Stir-fry : This is a very popular takeaway that is really easy to make at home. Make your own sauce and you’ll use a fraction of the sugar found in jarred sauces.
5) Homemade Hawaiian Pizza : This is the most kids’ favourite pizza. Take a good quality frozen margarita pizza (I like Dr Oetker) and top with fresh pineapple and decent quality ham and bake as usual.
6) Chopped Chicken Salad : Shred leftover roast chicken and make a dressing of mayonnaise, Greek yoghurt, curry powder and mango chutney. Add chunks of pineapple, finely chopped celery and toasted cashew nuts.
7) Spiced Baked Pineapple : For a tropical dessert, coat pineapple chunks in a little melted butter, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract. Bake at 200° until softened. Serve with Greek yoghurt.
I have no problems with using tinned pineapple if it is packed in natural juice and not syrup. But I mostly use fresh pineapple, preferring the smaller varieties. Not all pineapples have yellow skins, some are quite green naturally. So to choose a nice ripe one, pull a leaf from the middle of the bunch. If it releases easily, it is ripe. It should also smell like pineapple, indicating ripeness.