Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt, Almonds, and Cranberries

Can we continue with the discussion of things I would have hated as a child?

Chicken salad definitely would have made that list.  I had a serious aversion to anything mayonnaise or mayonnaise-related.  There were two exceptions I made: 1) my mother’s macaroni salad and 2) potato salad.  I guess my taste for carbohydrates trumped my distaste for mayonnaise.

To this day, mayonnaise continues to be one of my least favorite things in life.  (Although throw in some garlic and call it ‘aioli’ and I’m all for it.  I don’t know how that works.  I blame Paseo.)

I recently attended a monthly meeting for my local dietetic association where there was food catered by Ben E. Keith.  (The speaker was outstanding, but naturally, I’m talking about the food.)  There was an assortment of food, including the ever-dreaded chicken salad.

chicken salad

“Wait a second… A chicken salad that actually looks appetizing?” I thought as I looked at the gigantic bowl of it.  I saw big chunks of chicken, cranberries, and sliced almonds.  I saw a chicken salad not completely swimming in mayonnaise.  I decided to give it a try.  Much to my surprise, it tasted great.  Completely unlike any chicken salad I had ever tasted.  Although to be honest, I question whether or not I had actually tried ANY chicken salad before that point.

I came home with some leftovers which were demolished far too soon and left me scouring recipes to recreate it myself.

What I came up with uses fat free Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise, making it lower in fat and higher in protein.  Win.

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Chicken Salad with Greek yogurt, almonds, and cranberries

For the dressing:
1 6-oz container non-fat plain Greek yogurt (my favorite is Fage!)
3-4 TB white wine vinegar
1 rib celery, chopped
2 TB onion, minced
1/2 t maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

2 chicken breasts, poached and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2-3 TB dried cranberries
2-3 TB sliced almonds

Directions

Combine dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add in chicken, cranberries, and almonds and stir to combine.  If you wish, top with sliced green onions!

I like this on its own, but you can serve it up as a sandwich, with crackers, or whatever suits your fancy.

Here’s to non-creepy chicken salad!

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Kale salad

So you guys may or may not remember the kale salad I had a little while back when my life was changed.

You might remember me droning on about how delicious it was.  Totally not super bitter.  Right balance of sweet and savory.

Well, I made it my goal to try to replicate it for myself.

And I did.  Kind of.  My kale salad is not an exact replica of that at Local Foods, but it was yummy all the same.

Here’s the super simple cast of characters:

Yeah.  That’s it.  Raisins, shredded parm, lemon juice, olive oil, and kale.  There will also be a nut addition; I’ll get to that in a second.

The method:

Finely chop about 12 ounces of fresh kale (I used a food processor).  To the kale, add the juice of 1-2 lemons, ~1/4 cup olive oil, ~1/4 cup raisins, ~1/2 cup loosely packed shredded parmesan, ~1/4 cup nuts of your choosing.  Toss it all together, and boom.  There you have it.

As you can see, this isn’t exactly a recipe so much as a method.  The measurements aren’t exact, so you can go according to your preferences.  The original salad had pine nuts in it (which was fantastic), but being so expensive, pine nuts aren’t really something I’m willing to invest in.  I ended up trying a small bowl with chopped almonds (good) and later mixed chopped hazelnuts into the whole batch (even better).  I imagine pretty much any nut (and seed for that matter) would be lovely.

Additionally, you could totally use grated parmesan in place of shredded to get lots of parmy goodness in every bite.  You could also try switching out the raisins for currants or dried cranberries.  You really can’t go wrong!

This salad gets better and better the more it hangs out.  It’s been chillin’ in my fridge for the past few days and it’s only gotten more delicious.  It’s super simple and a light and healthy salad perfect for summertime.  Get into it!