The best part of living in Connecticut is that I am right on the coast. Granted, the east coast is completely different from the Gulf, where I was raised, but there’s something about being by the water that just calms my nerves and gives me peace. In fact, every place that I’ve ever lived has been near the water. There’s Louisiana – too much water going on down there, St. Louis – right on the mighty Mississip (that’s the Mississippi for all of you who aren’t familiar with the Battle of New Orleans), and Madison – smack dab in the middle of two of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen.
While I was enjoying the Connecticut coast line this summer, someone brought in cucumbers stuffed with chicken salad. Delicious, right? Not if you detest cucumbers like I do. I really like cucumbers when they come in lotion, but I can’t stand them in anything else (anyone else remember that cucumber melon lotion at Bath and Body Works? I used to slather that stuff on when I was in middle school). I do, however, really like chicken salad. In fact, I’d forgotten just how much I like it until I bit into that nasty cucumber and tasted some. It was at that point that I performed the party move that I have perfected. I call it the “cover your unwanted food in a napkin, roll it into a ball, and discretely throw it away without anyone knowing” move. I tossed that cucumber in the only trash can I could find – in the bathroom, WHOOPS, but only after eating every bite of chicken salad I could get out of it.
So when I was making my monthly meal plan last Sunday, I made sure to include chicken salad on my calendar.
One thing that I really want to do on this blog is highlight recipes for good, comfort foods that I love, but figure out how to make them better for you along the way. I’ve been hesitant to make chicken salad because I knew that if I did it, I’d want to make it as healthy as possible. That means no canned chicken (too much sodium), and no full fat mayonnaise. It took a little experimentation, but I came out with a recipe that falls right in the middle – not the healthiest, but also a LOT better than the chicken salad I remember eating in the past.
Lightened Up Chicken Salad
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4-6 sandwiches, or an endless amount of dip
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 Chicken breasts
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup light mayo (I used Hellmann’s)
3 green onions
1/2 of a scallion (optional)
1 pkg dill
1 tbsp vinegar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Here’s how you make it:
- Coat the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil to keep chicken from sticking.
- Season your chicken breasts with onion powder and pepper and then place baking dish in the oven for 30 minutes.
- If your chicken breasts are large, take them out of the oven and cut them in half after 30 minutes. Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes, or until cooked throughout.
- Remove chicken breasts from the oven and put aside.
- Finely chop green onion and dill.
- In a large bowl, add 1/2 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt to 1/2 cup of low fat mayonnaise.
- Add 1 tbsp of vinegar to the mixture.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Once your chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into small pieces about 1 inch thick. Then tear apart the chicken into thin strips with your hands (much easier to do it this way than try to use a knife).
- Add chicken, green onion, and dill to the yogurt/mayo mixture and stir until all of chicken is coated.
I like my chicken salad to be savory, not sweet, but if you like yours on the sweeter side, cut back on the onions and add a little bit of brown sugar to the mix. You can also add grapes and nuts for a fuller taste. Additionally, you can omit the mayo completely and make the mixture using only Greek yogurt. HOWEVER, to ensure that your chicken salad does not taste tart, make sure to add ample seasoning (more than I used here).
I will confess that I also chopped up a scallion and threw it in my chicken salad because I can’t get enough of the onion flavor. My coworkers, however, CAN get enough of my breath after I eat lunch. So just keep that in mind.
What’s your favorite “salad” kind of meal (egg salad? potato salad? chicken salad?) – or is that just a southern thing? Tell me some other great ways to use Greek yogurt.