Strawberry, Bacon & Candied Walnut Salad may seem a little passé but I’m not one to follow trends. I go more for what I like that suits me & my lifestyle. And I love fruit in savory salads. I also love canned mandarin orange segments & for that I offer no apologies. This salad is delicious, nourishing & requires very little kitchen maven skills. It’s fresh & vibrant. All things that make me love it. And when you make it & try it, you will too.
If you want to make this vegetarian, then simply omit the bacon. Or maybe you want to throw some roasted or grilled chicken into the salad. That would be perfect & often how I’ve served it.
It’s no secret for several years now I’ve struggled with losing weight. Not that I can’t, I can easily lose weight. It’s a mindset thing I struggle with. The weight I refer to as my “North American weight”. I’ve been on countless diets. Most of which bored the pants off me. Because I was close to my desired normal weight back in my homeland, Australia, I’m looking more towards what I used to eat & drink back then. Salads played a big part in my diet back home. This salad has bacon, cheese & olive oil. And that’s okay.
I’m done with stressing so much about what I should & shouldn’t eat. Instead I’ve decided to focus on lots of fresh ingredients, very little processed food (apart from the occasional mandarin orange segments in a salad), healthy carbs & eating smaller portions. I like to exercise & with the weather warming up I’m back riding my bike & soon I’ll be able to swim.
A habit I acquired late in 2016 when I couldn’t sleep because of the pain in my knees, was getting up in the middle of the night to make a cup of tea & a sandwich. Or I’d defrost a muffin & eat it with my tea. Now there’s a few hundred calories I don’t need. I still do it & it needs to stop. I give in to desire too easily. It’s got me into more trouble over the years than I care to admit to anyone. Maybe I’ll put that in the book I’m writing, but giving into every desire isn’t healthy. Eating at 2 AM just because, is giving into desire. I wouldn’t cheat on my husband so why cheat on myself. Because that’s essentially what I’m doing.
People on the diet merry-go-round cheat on themselves. And I’m sure have the voices inside their heads that can justify it. Just like I do. But it needs to stop. It’s not healthy. Emotionally & physically. And it’s really fucking exhausting. Mentally exhausting. I often think, if I didn’t constantly think about the need to lose weight how much energy I’d have to focus on other aspects of my life more clearly & with more grit & drive.
So what might seem like a salad that’s not trendy (if you’re into that sort of thing), represents me forging ahead, listening to my body, getting back to my roots & staying my course. It’s worked for me in the past. It will work again. Chat to you soon,
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 or 3 baby lettuce or about 4 generous handfuls of baby lettuce leaves
- 6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
- 15 oz (425g) can mandarin oranges, drained or use about a cup of chopped fresh oranges
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 small cucumbers, sliced
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 4 oz (113g) feta cheese, sliced or broken into pieces
- BALSAMIC HONEY VINAIGRETTE
- 1/3cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- pinch of salt & pepper
- To make the vinaigrette: Place all ingredients in a screw-top jar. Shake until well combined.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk the egg white, sugar, salt & pepper together in a small bowl. Add the walnuts & stir to combine. Scrape the walnut mixture onto the baking sheet & spread it out a little. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool then chop into pieces.
- Arrange lettuce in shallow bowls or a platter. Top with bacon, mandarins, strawberries, onion, cucumber & cranberries.
- Drizzle with vinaigrette. Top with cheese & walnuts (I use about half of the walnut mixture. Store any leftover walnuts in a small jar or Tupperware for up to a week at room temperature). Serves 2 to 3.