Hot Cheeto Kale Salad {Recipe}

Hot cheetos are my absolute guilty pleasure. I've been eating them non stop since 5th grade, after my friend Radha introduced me to them. Quite frankly, they are the reason I'm not toothpick thin. They are one of the reasons I won't go completely vegan. It's impossible for me to eat them in moderation. If I have a few, I have the whole bag. Once I'm done with the whole bag, I want another whole bag. Hot cheetos are addictive, spicy, and delicious.

After being introduced to the snack, I was eating them weekly and sometimes daily...all throughout my school years. One year for Christmas, my mother bought me a 50 pack of them. Let's just say it didn't last very long. If you take me to a gas station or grocery store, I don't hesitate about what I'm getting. It's always hot cheetos. Sometimes I debate between hot cheetos and hot fries, but cheetos win 75% of the time. I took a break from them in an effort to loose weight in high school. I lost twenty pounds, but my entire being was missing those fiery endorphin-causing crunchy cheetos. So I went back to them and I don't regret it one bit. And let me just say: I am so lucky my boyfriend Andrew is also obsessed with the snack. And I mean obsessed. The amount of money we've spent on snack runs has to be in the thousands by now.

A lot of people are shocked to hear I am so in love with hot cheetos considering I'm a overall healthy eater. I'm a vegetarian with vegan tendencies, tea enthusiast, veggie and fruit lover, and so much more. I rarely eat fast food, in fact, I can't considering I'm a vegetarian. I'll pick kale and white bean soup over cheddar broccoli any day. Low fat option? I'm on it. Vegan option? Yes please. Low calorie version? Sure. Organic? Oh yes! I'm not one to miss out on a health benefit.

Yet I don't regret eating hot cheetos. They are apart of my heart and soul, to be quite honest with you. Why should I let them go? They never make me feel sick. I'm at a happy weight. I feel good all the time. I don't have any health risks due to them. So, judge me all you want but I'll always be eating these guys.

I was really excited when I found this 'Flamin' Hot Cheetos Kale Salad' recipe on popsugar. Andrew and I would always joke about making hot cheeto casserole and making hot cheeto crumbles a spice to put onto things such as pasta, salads, soup, etc. Then I saw this recipe and realized..."I'm not crazy! Let's do this."

I made my own version of a 'Hot Cheeto Kale Salad.' It was delicious! Many people add croutons, tortilla strips and onion strings to their salads. I think I'm going to be adding hot cheeto crumbles from now on. It adds the crunchy spice I need.

Here's what you'll need:
A box of your choice of greens (I did a kale & argula blend)
1/2 cup of chia seeds
1 cup of red wine vinegar & olive oil dressing
A bag of gardein 'chicken' strips (for vegetarians)
A can of chickpeas
A bag of hot cheetos
3 tbsp olive oil

1. First, heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add "chicken" strips, sauté for 5-7 minutes or until browning. When these are done, put them in a small bowl on the side to cool down.

2. In a larger bowl, empty all of your greens after they've been washed. Pour a cup of red wine vinegar & olive oil dressing, little by little, while tossing the salad.

3. Once the blend of greens is coated with dressing, you are free to add the chickpeas and chia seeds. I added the entire can of chickpeas (after being drained) and 1/2 cup of chia seeds. Toss.

4. You will not need an entire bag of hot cheetos for the topping. Personally, I ate most of the bag I had and left some at the bottom. Once they were at the bottom, I closed the bag and smashed it with my hands and random kitchen utensils. (you'll find something.) If the bag is too full, I recommend transferring a small amount to a different bag.

5. Once your hot cheetos are smashed into dust and smaller pieces, you are ready to serve. Add the salad to individual bowls, add the chicken on top, and let your guests decide if they want hot cheetos crumbles on top of their salad. I like to add more chia seeds on top!

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This is an easy yet satisfying recipe. Packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants - this salad takes all other salads to a whole other level. The red wine & olive oil dressing is your source of antixoidsants and heart healthy YET calorie free fats. The chia seeds have protein, omega 3, fiber, potassium and calcium. The kale is bursting with protein and vitamins, and the chickpeas are filled with cancer preventing vitamins. Dang! This is my kind of salad.