Megan Monday: Flawless Chicken Salad

Monday, March 7, 2011

I adore chicken salad. The best part is it truly can be a healthy option. On the other hand, it can probably be worse for you than a big mac, if you don't know what's in it.
Enter "Flawless Chicken Salad"
If not prepared well enough, chicken salad can be bland, too mayonnaise-y, too pickle-y or too "seriously, I paid 10 bucks for this sandwich?!"-y

I chose this recipe for MM (hey, that stands for Megan Monday and Megan's initials- at least for the next four months!) because it can be eaten for lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack. You can serve it on bread, in a tortilla, on an english muffin, maybe an onion bagel, on a bed of lettuce, with crackers, and even some celery stalks.
There are some days when stuffing chicken salad in celery doesn't do it for me- GIVE. ME. CAAAARBS. And then there are days when I've eaten my weight in Girl Scout cookies. There are also days I decide that I'm going to be good by working out and eating like a rabbit. On the cookie days and rabbit days, throwing something filling, like this salad, on some celery, or a bed of greens, is just the well balanced meal I need.
For Megan, this would be a perfect lunch, after your morning run, so you can stock up on that healthy protein.

Last night I made this for dinner and shoved in a whole wheat pita, along side tomato soup. For Megan purposes, I chose to display some of it on saltines. I can't count the number of times we would stand in our kitchen, at 4 in the afternoon, slabbing peanut butter and jelly over a handful of saltines- it really was a great snack. Just think of this as the grown up version of that treat.

On a little more personal note, the UPS man stopped by the house this morn to drop off a package from Jcrew. Yes, my friends, my dress for Megan's wedding is here. I hate ordering stuff online, never knowing if it will fit the way I imagine it in my head. Although, in my imagination, when I open up a package, the clothes seem to be meant for a Barbie, as I struggle to get it over my head, thus eliciting a rather dramatic scene with me sweating, crying, etc...luckily this is all in my head. In actuality, today was a success- the dress is beautiful and I'll make sure to eat lots of this health friendly chicken salad, to keep it that way.

TIP: When watching fat and calories, mayo can become the devil (especially when you order something prepared by someone else.) No one wants a dry sandwich, so opt for another spread: hummus, honey mustard, pesto, and tapenade all lend plenty of flavor without as much of the "yuck" that real mayo gives. When cooking at home, sub plain nonfat yogurt, or sour cream for mayo. Mix it with some lemon juice and garlic powder to give it lots of flavor. If you're really craving mayo, ask for it on the side when ordering out, or by low fat, olive oil or vegan versions to have at home.

Flawless Chicken Salad
serves 6 (feel free to half the recipe)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup sour low fat/non fat sour cream or plain yogurt
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 half lemon, juiced and zested
1/4 cup bread and butter pickles, chopped (or use sweet relish)
1/3 cup red grapes, halved
1 small granny smith apple: cored and diced finely
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bundle of green onions, chopped
1/4 chopped almonds or pecans (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon parsley
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Preheat oven to 325. Put chicken in a casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil and 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Cook for about 45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through (may take longer depending on how thick the chicken is). When done, take out of the oven and place a sheet of foil over the dish- let rest for 10 minutes.
While the chicken rests, mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl- place in fridge.

When chicken is done resting, chop into bite sized pieces. Let cool for a few minutes and mix into bowl of ingredients. You can let this refrigerate for a couple hours, or serve now, if needed. celery


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