Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chicken Salad

I remember a tasty chicken salad from grade school lunches as a kid. I would walk home from school and smell the chicken before I got in the door. Loads of chicken, laced with crunchy celery and grapes that squirted their juice in your mouth, all held together with a generous dollop of mayonnaise. The top was crisped up with broken potato chips and cheese. Mom usually served it hot in individual brown bowls that now have a place in my cupboards. Oh, sweet memories. This chicken salad makes me reminisce about those lunches. Sure, I've healthied it up a bit, but what else is new? We had this new, improved version the other night. And, I made extra ... you'll see why with my next post.


1 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet or yellow onion
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
6 oz plain fat free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1 cup seedless grapes (add only to salad being served, not salad being saved)
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
several grinds of salt

6 cups salad lettuce
1/2 cup chopped red, yellow, or green peppers
1/4 cup salad dressing


Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Saute about 3 minutes, until the onion begins to give up some of it's juices. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Add them to the skillet, along with the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom. Cook the chicken mixture until the chicken is no longer pink, about 6 to 8 more minutes. Remove from the heat, and let cool. Prepare the yogurt mixture while the chicken is cooking. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, celery, pumpkin seeds, grapes, and mint leaves in a large bowl. Add the chicken mixture to the yogurt mixture, stirring to combine. Taste, and add salt as needed. Serve on individual plates, 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch, or serve some for one meal and save the remaining for a meal the following day. Arrange lettuce on plates, topping with peppers, a drizzle of salad dressing and some of the chicken mixture. Serve with a green vegetable on the side.

Serves 4 - 6

Stealthy Cooking Tip: This uses Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise. Greek yogurt has a similar consistency to mayo, and mixes well in cold or cool foods. It was fun comparing these two products. I compared Fage Total 0 Plain yogurt with Best Foods Canola cholesterol free mayonnaise. Neither has any cholesterol. Greek yogurt has 18 grams of protein per 6 ounces, compared to 0 grams in mayonnaise. Even though Greek yogurt delivers more protein, it has less calories. Greek yogurt weighed in at 16 calories per tablespoon, compared to compared to 40 per tablespoon for canola mayonnaise. Greek yogurt is also significantly lower in sodium that mayo, with about 10 mg of sodium per tablespoon compared to 115 mg for mayo. Finally, Greek yogurt supplies calcium, something not found in mayo. That means that Greek yogurt has more protein, less calories, less sodium, and more calcium. With all it has going for it, I think it's worth a try. I think they taste similar, especially when used with spices in cooking. See what you think.

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