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Salad is the new main course

It felt so good to squeeze in a week of vacation. I asked my husband, Garry, to find a relaxing destination within driving distance since I am constantly traveling by plane.

Hello Scottsdale, Arizona!

I was pleasantly surprised to find some great restaurants here that allowed me to indulge my inner foodie. With food being my passion, I always challenge myself to have a new food experience wherever I go. But I was determined to maintain a healthy diet during 7 days of eating out.

Our first find, Blanco Tacos + Tequila, caught our eye while driving down Scottsdale Road. We both love Mexican food and the parking lot was filled with cars at 2 p.m. so we had a hunch it was going to be good.

Blanco was amazing! We tried their homemade guacamole and I ordered celery and carrot sticks for dipping (the server didn’t even flinch) instead of tortilla chips.

Going through the menu, the Grilled Shrimp salad caught my eye. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but you can see all the healthy and fresh ingredients: cabbage, lettuce, jicama, celery, cucumber, cilantro and radish with a light lime vinaigrette! Seriously, I couldn’t even finish all of the shrimp, there were so many vegetables!

When the check came, there was a clever postcard asking if we were “Jonesing for our Fox fix?” Turns out Blanco is one of several restaurant concepts owned and operated by Sam Fox, a serial restaurant entrepreneur from Arizona. Not only did I sign up, I was now on the hunt to experience some of his other concepts while in town.

The next night we tried North, which bills itself as an Italian Trattoria. With pasta and pizza off limits for me, I was curious to see if they had lighter options that would satisfy my appetite (in 108 degree heat, I tend to eat light).

OMG! When I read the ingredients in their Farmer’s Market Salad, I was in heaven: Tuscan kale, dried cranberries, chopped dates, faro, thick shreds of carrots, paper thin slices of watermelon radish and candy cane beets, Marcona almonds and a light white balsamic dressing.

The night manager, Jamie, was so helpful when I inquired about where they purchased their produce. He also gave me the photo their chef took of my salad!

Turns out he studied hospitality and restaurant management at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and had a short stint with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. But Jamie prides himself on working for Sam Fox (who he said is amazing!). I told Jamie how nice it was to be able to order salad as a main course at both Blanco and North.

When you are dining out, don’t feel obligated to order a heavy main course. Check out the salad offerings on the menu. I think there may be a trend happening: Not only are some restaurant chefs using a variety of fresh and interesting veggies in their salads, they are making the salads appealing as a lighter main course while providing flavor and taste.

And remember, when you order a salad as your main course, you can truly enjoy their fresh baked breads and wine selections, guilt-free. I sure did!

Bon appétit,


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