Low-Calorie Californian Inspired Chicken Salad

by Marjan

Eating light and healthy is easy to do with fresh, organic, quality ingredients. I am excited to share with you my recipe for a versatile low-calorie Chicken Salad which can also be enjoyed as a sandwich.


Living on our small ranch in Southern California, I am daily challenged by two things: keeping up with the bounty harvest of seasonal fresh organic ingredients and creating unique recipes daily. For example, how many different recipes can I creatively come up with during tomato and bell pepper season? Often I pretend I'm a participant on TV Network's Chopped series: "Today's secret basket ingredients include: leftover chicken, guacamole, celery, and heirloom tomatoes. You have 20 minutes to prepare your meal. Remember you will be judged on presentation, taste, and creativity." Images of Zakarian and Guarnaschelli judging me inspires me to deliver a stellar meal!


Of course, you might think the above listed ingredients hardly pose a challenge; however, I have three very accomplished food critics at home accustomed to variety of complex flavors and meals. They easily become board with repetitive meals and show exuberance when I serve them new recipes. Eating largely farm to table, I welcome the constant creativity challenge.

Sunday dinners, I like to roast chicken and serve it along fresh vegetables and a hearty salad (all ingredients from our ranch, of course). We always have leftover chicken and I'm stretching the unconsumed half of dry breast portion to feed 3 people for lunch the next day. Therefore, my trick is to use 3-4 large celery stalks to add a low calorie crunch which is also very filling. I refrain from using mayonnaise and substitute with the creaminess of avocados instead to deliver a moist and creamy chicken. Addition of heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, lime zest and juice adds just the right balance of acid to transform dry chicken breast into an extraordinary meal.
Margaritas Please!

Enjoyed as either a salad or sandwich, this recipe pops with flavor. Healthy, delicious, nutritious and low-calorie, what more can one ask from a recipe?
Hope this dish takes me to the 'Dessert Round'!

Serves 3-4
Ingredients:
Amounts of ingredients listed below may be modified based on preference and availability. Therefore, if you prefer more chicken vs. celery or scallions to onions, feel free to substitute and alter. The key is to use fresh organic ingredients such as avocado, celery, tomatoes, and lime.

1/2 leftover cooked chicken breast; chopped into small bite-size pieces (grilled or stir fried chicken will do just as well. If you don't have left overs, simply chop 1/2 chicken breast, season with salt and pepper and sauté in olive oil until cooked; 15-20 minutes)
2 large lime zest and juice (to render approximately 1/3 cup of lime juice and 1 teaspoons of zest)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 avocados; mashed
2 celery stalks with leaves; chop fine
1 cup chopped heirloom tomatoes
3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons red onion; chop fine
* optional: 1 jalapeño; remove seeds and chop fine

In a medium size mixing bowl, first toss together chicken breast, lime juice and zest, salt and pepper. Add olive oil, chopped avocados, celery and onion. Mix ingredients well to bind with avocados. If looking for a bit of spice or kick, add jalapeños. Prior to serving, add tomatoes and cilantro. Taste for additional salt and pepper. Serve either as a sandwich or salad.
Enjoy!


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