My Unruly Salad–A Metaphor for My Life

Welcome  Do you remember the “big salad” episode of Seinfeld?  Like Elaine, I happen to love BIG SALADS, but I make mine at home.  I love them because I can just keep adding in stuff that I like.  The more the yummier, right?  Today I’m going to share how a big salad can get out of control in a hurry, both literally and figuratively!  And you guessed it…a salad recipe as well.  Have a great weekend and I will see you on Monday.

Tex Mex Salad Bowl
Pre-grilled chicken, greens, corn, black beans, crunchy vegetables, cheese, and tortilla strips make a big, yummy meal-sized salad.

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Food For Thought  We often have large dinner salads full of veggies and proteins that eat like a meal, and works to cut down on carbs too.  I like a good side salad or a trip to a salad bar, too, but when I get inspired to make a meal salad, I get pretty ambitious, going through the cabinets and refrigerator grabbing anything that sounds or looks good.  I peel and slice and chop and fill my big bowl, and it’s so pretty with all of the different colors and textures. On one occasion, though, I got a little carried away with my salad.  I carried the big salad bowl to our dining room table where we can each serve ourselves from this bounty of nutrition.  The salad is so full of good stuff, that it starts flying everywhere as soon as the tongs go in.  We’ve got salad pieces flying out of the bowl, off my plate, and off the table, wow!  So hubby says to me, “Uh-oh, looks like the salad is being unruly.”  I reply, “Yeah, it’s like a metaphor of my life…one big, unruly salad.”  I wasn’t joking at the time because this occurred during a time when I felt like my life was in complete chaos and the salad was illustrating the point all too well.

Salad ingredients in the kitchen
It looks like the makings of an unruly salad…on my unruly kitchen island!

Later I contemplated my response, and the unruly salad does make a good point.  Our Christian lives are a lot like that big salad bowl…meant to hold a lot of good things, but it has a limit.  First, we start our salad base with all of the healthy stuff…the greens and good crunchy vegetables.  That’s kind of like how we start to fill our lives…the needs and important stuff first…God, family, friends, physical needs, health and well-being.  And just like some people skimp on the greens at the salad bar, there are people who skimp on some of life’s important salad fillers, too.  But then we get to the fun part, the “extras.”  Maybe I want eggs or avocado on my salad.  Or meat and cheese.  Or beans and corn.  Or extra onions and mushrooms and olives.  And top it with croutons or sunflower seeds.  The choices are almost endless.  Like the choices in our life, right?  We see so many other good things out there, we want to keep piling them into our already-full salad bowl.  Things like nice cars and vacations, expensive clothes, shoes, and purses, prestigious social groups, long work hours to make more money and climb the ladder.  Or maybe the extras are things we don’t even need like drugs and alcohol or self-destructive behaviors.  They may look good, but do we need that in our salad bowl of life?  The point is, the salad bowl will only hold so much until it starts becoming out of control and leads to chaos, just like in our dining room the night I over crowded our salad bowl.  When I start feeling like my life is like that unruly salad bowl, I need to rethink how much I’m trying to cram in.  I have to let go of some of the “extras.”  For me, that meant quitting my master’s degree program when I was half way through.  It meant not training for any races during a peak time of busyness at school.  It meant only being involved in one school PTA, not mine and my daughters both.  It meant not scheduling trips to the salon every month.  You have to decide what extras you can do without to keep your salad bowl from overflowing.  A word of caution though, we have to try and not get rid of the important parts of the salad.  Unfortunately I know this has disastrous outcomes, as I once thought that worship time was an “extra” I could get out of my salad bowl.  Trust me, that’s not a good choice.

And what about the salad dressing?  Well I think the dressing is a lot like our attitude in life.  I can have my dressing accent the flavors of the salad, and have a balanced attitude that brings out the best in myself and others around me.  Or I can use way too much dressing and cover up all of the other delicious components of the salad, meaning my attitude is so poor that it covers up all of the good going on around me…like when I’m complaining or negative.  So you see, an unruly salad can be a metaphor for my unruly life, but even better serve as inspiration for getting my life back under control!

Today’s Scripture  I really like the story about Martha and Mary in Luke chapter 10 for this illustration.  Martha and Mary were both full of goodness in their actions, but Mary kept her salad bowl under control.  She made sure the important stuff, like listening to the Lord’s teachings, were what filled her time.  Martha overfilled that salad bowl, running around being busy and fretting about the preparations for the meal and such.  She tried to cram too much in which left no room for the important stuff-meeting with and listening to Jesus.  Today’s verses are Luke 10:38-42:

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!’  ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one things is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Today’s Recipe  In the great land of Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+, I am finding out that I’m not nearly as original and creative as I once thought I was.  I cannot believe how many recipes are out there for big meal salads!  My recipe today is for a low-prep, semi-homemade Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad with a Creamy Avocado Cilantro Dressing.  I’ve been making this salad since before I discovered Pinterest, but apparently so have other people.  My apologies if my recipe resembles or unintentionally copies someone else’s, and I will credit Gimme Delicious for their tasty dressing idea, but even that I tweaked for our own tastes at home.

Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad with a Creamy Avocado Cilantro Dressing (serves 6-8) See additional notes following recipe.

Chicken Salad Bowl
Tex Mex Chopped Chicken Salad
  • For Salad:
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce (about 10-12 oz), chopped
  • 4 oz (about a cup) chopped cabbage (red, green, or mix)
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 6 radishes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup EACH chopped celery and carrots
  • 1 cup drained whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup drained and rinsed black beans
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 12 oz (2 pkgs.) southwest flavored grilled chicken strips (this is the semi-homemade part!)
  • 1/2 cup sliced olives
  • 1 cup Chipotle-flavored tortilla strips
  • Prep all ingredients and layer in salad bowl.  Prepare dressing.

    Creamy Avocado Cilantro Dressing
    Creamy Avocado Cilantro Dressing
  • For Dressing:
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • 2 TBS fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper (you may want a little more or less, be sure to taste before serving)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Place all ingredients in food processor and combine until smooth and creamy.  We don’t toss our salad with the dressing so each person can control how much dressing they have, but it would be good served all mixed together, as well.
  • Recipe Notes:
  • I have also served this salad with fresh grilled chicken, peppers, and onions for a warm fajita salad.
  • No tomato for me, since I’m allergic, but it would make a great addition to this salad.
  • The beauty of chopped dinner salads is that you can add what you want based on your preferences, what’s available in your kitchen, and it’s a great way to use up left-over odds and ends (like my cup of chopped cabbage.)
  • I’m just going to make the assumption that you wash all of your fresh produce before you use it, and not put that in the instructions.
  • If there’s an ingredient you don’t like in the list, just omit it or substitute it with something else, including the dressing.  This salad goes very well with regular Ranch!
  • I use whole carrots mostly.  They are easier to chop, more economical, and taste sweeter than baby carrots.
  • A time saving trick I use, when I’m chopping all of these salad ingredients, I also prepare carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks for the week’s lunches and place in a storage container in the refrigerator.  This also allows for healthy on-the-go snacks.
  • Links and prices were checked on 7/21/17 at 2:40 CDT.

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