Cheeseburger Combo Salad

A salad that will make you go “Bada Ba Ba Ba…I’m Lovin’ It!”

I’m back in the kitchen with another challenge! This time, with more participants, more passion and LESS calories! The challenge is to take a traditionally unhealthy food and make it “healthier.” You can interpret that however you want. Hehe, I obviously did (you’ll understand as you read on).

I chose to reinvent the cheeseburger combo. The burger, fries and coke. I took this 1,570 calorie meal and…


…turned it into a 650 calorie salad (varies depending on how “generous” you are with the cheese and potato stix). I ended up eating the large bag of potato stix so I guess you can say it balanced out for me. They are just like fries, you start off with one at a time and inevitably end up fisting the remaining half into your mouth. Or is it just me? Ok…moving on.

Cheeseburger Combo Salad

Here are the substitutions and details:


  • The greasy and questionable meat patties are replaced with a flat iron steak (seared to medium-rare for extra sexiness).
  • Shredded cheddar cheese takes the place of the “cheese” slices.
  • I kept the sesame seeds but not the bun that they rested on.


  • The soda, along with the condiments, were used to marinade the steak.
  • The coke and onions made this steak incredibly tender (from the acid).
  • The ketchup, mustard and garlic gave the steak that classic “burger taste.”


  • Replaced by potato stix to give this salad some crunch.
  • Seriously, burgers need fries and salads need crouton? Here you have both.


  • Arugula replaces the lettuce because it takes on the dressing better.
  • Honey mustard to give this dish a little sweetness without conflicting with the flavors.
  • Cherry tomatoes because…um…why not?

Cheeseburger Combo Salad

So now you know the why (challenge) and what (Cheeseburger Combo Salad), let’s talk about the when and where. We were all given two weeks to materialize our creativity. Ten days passed and I got nothing. I mean, I had ideas but nothing I’d be proud of. So as a last ditched attempt to get inspired…I went to Walmart. Where you will find cheap prices, “interesting” people and most importantly, a balance of healthy and processed foods.

I meandered through the isles looking for inspiration but got nothing (metaphorically speaking, physically speaking…I got a few bars of chocolate…yum). Defeated, I made my way to the exit when a ray of golden light gave me hope. No, not from God, it was from the infamous golden arches that represented McDonalds.

Cheeseburger Combo Salad

Oh, McDonalds, you are always there when I need you the most. From the toys in my childhood Happy Meals to my midnight college cravings…you always knew how to make me smile. I knew I had to make something inspired by McDonalds because the company is…

  1. Recognized world wide.
  2. The poster child for unhealthy food (have you watched Super Size Me?)
  3. Perfect for this challenge.

All said and done, this Cheeseburger Combo Salad is my healthy healthier (chips, cheese and soda is still in this recipe) take on the McDonalds Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Combo Meal. I had an amazing time with this challenge and thrilled to have more people join us this time around. If you care to join in on the next one then shoot me an email. Until next time, take care!


Please check out what the other participants came up with!

Here they are in ABC order (I’ll have everyone’s recipes linked as soon as they come in):

JenniferCreamy Tomato Soup in Bread Bowl with Grilled Cheese Sticks

Johnny: The Ultimate Healthy Chili Dog

JordanHealthy Vegetarian Chicken & Waffles with Sriracha Maple Syrup

Kasim: Garlic & Herb Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Tom: Indian-Inspired Lamb Keema with Peas and Zucchini Noodles

~The first image above is pulled directly from

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Cheeseburger Combo Salad
Cheeseburger Combo Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 4 Hours
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 4 Hours
Cheeseburger Combo Salad
Cheeseburger Combo Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 4 Hours
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 4 Hours
Coke Marinated Steak
Honey Mustard Salad
Servings: People
  1. In a large bowl, mix the ketchup, dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic and minced red onion together.
  2. Then mix in the Coke (if you add the coke without mixing the other ingredients first, you will have lumps.
  3. Place the steaks in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (up to 24).
  4. Cut the remaining half of the red onion into strips and throw them in ice water for 10 minutes (this will take some of the rawness away). Drain and reserve.
  5. Before cooking, pat the steaks dry and allow them to come to room temp (20-30 minutes).
  6. Coat the steaks with a thin layer of canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
  7. In a pan over med-high heat (I used a cast iron grill pan), cook the steak 2-3 minutes (for medium rare) or 4-5 (for medium).
  8. Flip and cook for exactly the same amount of time.
  9. Remove the steaks from the heat and allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into them.
  10. In a large bowl, make the Honey Mustard Salad by mixing the dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.
  11. Toss in the arugula, red onions and cherry tomatoes. Mix it up.
  12. To serve: Cut your steak into strips and top with potato stix and cheese.
Recipe Notes

Do not use Diet Coke, the sugars affect the taste. It doesn't add much calories, most is thrown out with the marinade.

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