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Posted on Jan 9, 2012 in Food, Recipes | 20 comments

Healthy Chicken Salad

While I was in college, I worked at a darling tea shop in downtown Harrisonburg. It was the kind of place with only 10 tables but 100 different kinds of tea, the BEST scones baked fresh every morning, and a lunch menu that was short and perfect.

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Because it’s such a small establishment, I got to wear many hats while working there: hostess, waitress, tea aficionado, even prep cook! It was in that last role that I learned how to make some of the most simple and delicious lunch dishes I know. The chicken salad in particular was always a favorite of mine, and with my eating habits under check these days, I figured it was the perfect time to come up with a healthier version!

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Traditional chicken salad, while delicious, is notorious for being drenched in mayo and with only a smidgen of celery to mix up the texture. Using plain greek yogurt to replace mayonnaise is a common “healthifying” technique, but often gives a sour taste to dishes on its own. This bright, nutrition-filled recipe includes a myriad of vegetables and combines the yogurt with light Miracle Whip to provide a flavorful, creamy dressing that’s still light on calories.

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This dish does involve a fair bit of prep work (chopping, dicing, slicing, and the like) but the actual recipe is incredibly easy! One thing to note: this makes a LOT of chicken salad. I’ve found that if you mix the entire batch with the dressing together all at once and end up refrigerating any leftovers, they will get quite watery the next day. Therefore, my recommendation is that you add the sauce and salad components together in smaller batches, and refrigerate any leftovers separately. Obviously, this rule doesn’t apply if you’re making it for a party or large group though.

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Healthy Chicken Salad
Print this recipe!

Adapted from Mrs. Hardesty’s Tea Room
Makes 8 servings

Loaded with colorful veggies and the juicy punch of grapes in every bite, this easy, lightened up chicken salad is a perfect lunch dish! For the chicken, feel free to cook however you see fit: roast it, pan fry it, even boil it! You can definitely adjust the ratio of grapes/veggies/chicken to your liking, as well.

Ingredients:

3 – 4 medium chicken breasts
1/2 medium red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
3 – 4 stalks celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 bunches red or green seedless grapes, sliced in half (about 2 cups)
1 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
1/2 cup light Miracle Whip
1/4 cup lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Cook your chicken breasts in the way of your choosing (I seasoned them with a poultry rub and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes). When they have finished cooking, chop and combine with onion, bell pepper, celery, and grapes.
2. Mix yogurt, Miracle Whip, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a separate container. Add to salad ingredients and combine.
3. Enjoy on toast, in a wrap, or on its own!

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Served up with roasted brussels sprouts and balsamic braised cabbage for a rainbow-colored plate!

Nutritional information per 1/8th serving: 160 calories, 3 grams fat, 10 grams carbs (1 gram fiber), 24 grams protein, WW Points+: 5.

PS: Don’t forget that the Hello Hydration giveaway is open until Wednesday!

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Posted on Mar 10, 2011 in Food | 8 comments

Dreary Morning Overnight Oats in a Jar

Good morning my friends! It is d-r-e-a-r-y in Falls Church this morning, let me tell you. All my metro DC peeps – I feel your drizzly, gray pain.

I guess I should be grateful that it isn’t raining the torrential downpours that I’ve been hearing about all week, but nonetheless, it’s still kinda icky outside. Needless to say, there are a couple of puppies that were NOT all about having to go outside this morning, hahaha.

To add a little pep to my step and whatnot this drizzly, grizzly day, I have an empty jar of peanut butter that I’ve put to good use!

Yes, my loves. It’s oats in a jar. Specifically, overnight oats in a jar.

I realize that when I make oats in a jar, it looks about as appetizing as my foot, but it does taste good, I swear! It probably doesn’t help that I used chocolate almond milk this time instead of regular, thus adding that one extra layer of brown-ness… oh well. I added chia seeds to the mix for the first time and I think I may have gone slightly overboard. There are more chias than oats in this particular batch!

I’ve been weirdly jonesing for vegetables lately. Yeah. I know. Who am I?! I think I may have finally gone over to the dark side (or, rather, the light side. Like, literally. You know… ’cause it’ll make me lighter? Get it? Anybody? Well, at least I think I’m funny.)

In order to take advantage of said vegetable craving, I passed on bringing Sloppy Gretchen mix for lunch for the second day in a row, and opted to throw together a SUPERFAST healthy little salad (inspired by Anne P.’s 5-minute packable lunches, I now know that exactly how much time it takes to throw together something healthy in the morning: 5 minutes!)

In the mix we’ve got some greens (dur.), red onion, sliced strawbs, and diced red bell pepper. I love me some color! And, of course, in true obsessive-Gretchen-fashion, I threw some chia seeds on top. Y’know. For garnish. 😛

I also threw together a 30-second (seriously!) vinaigrette maid with meyer lemon juice, olive oil, salt & peppah.

Snacks include:

Some Annie’s Spelt Pretzel Bunnies (they’re so cute, heehee.)

And a kiwi! Huzzah for healthy!

Question: What are your favorite quick & healthy lunches to bring to work? I often find that my downfall is if I don’t have any leftovers in the fridge to easily take, I just give up and say I’m gonna buy lunch instead (today is clearly a rare exception.) And when I buy lunch even if my intentions are to stick to the salad bar, we all know what’s gonna happen. Ideas are welcome! 🙂

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