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Chicken Salad – Cool and Healthy

Chicken Salad is a cool and healthy choice for a hot weather lunch or dinner and perfect for a potluck. There are dozens of recipes with all kinds of variations that you can make, but let’s start with a wonderful basic recipe that we have used in my family for years.

INGREDIENTS

  • Roasted or boiled chicken, chilled
  • Fresh crisp celery, sliced very, very thin
  • Onion, finely diced
  • Seedless grapes, stemmed, washed, dried and cut in half
  • Real Foods (or Hellmann’s) Mayonnaise
  • Mustard, regular
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sliced almonds or chopped pecans (optional)

NOTE: I purposefully omitted measurements because this is a dish that is best made “to taste.”  My recommendation is to go easy on the celery, onion, and mustard until you reach a combination that works for your family.  Once you get a good idea of the amounts that please your palate, you can always double or triple depending on the number of people you will be serving.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare the celery, onions, grapes, and nuts (if using) – set aside.
  2. Cut the chilled cooked chicken into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl.
  3. Gently mix in the chopped ingredients.
  4. Start with 2 tablespoons mayo and 1 teaspoon mustard – mix very gently and add more mayo as needed until all ingredients are lightly coated – (Do not overwhelm the salad with mayo.)
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: The nuts are listed as optional, but add a nice crunchy texture, if desired. You may also want to try other variations such as adding: hard-boiled eggs, avocado, seasoned brown or Basmati rice, or lemon juice for an additional tangy flavor. If you prefer, you can use low-fat, or light mayonnaise.

Change It Up

Chicken salad has multiple uses. It is delicious on rich whole-grain bread for sandwiches; on a crisp lettuce leaf for a refreshing summer salad; or as a side dish with dinner or at a potluck. My chicken salad is always one of the first dishes to be eaten at a potluck, church dinner, or teenage gathering.

This can also be an economical dish – and who isn’t happy for those? Chicken is often sold in larger quantities for lower prices. Take advantage of those sales and have a prep day where you make a large batch of chicken salad that you place in a big bowl in the fridge for easy access. It is ready for quick packed lunches (sandwiches or salad); a last minute side dish for dinner – or a healthy snack after school.

Chicken salad is also wonderful wrapped in a fresh tortilla, in pita bread, or spread on crackers as a yummy appetizer. And . . . don’t forget to serve it on fresh croissants for a tasty lunch with friends.

Chicken salad is a healthier, more unusual choice than potato salad. It is an excellent choice for picnics, graduation parties, open houses, 4th of July celebrations, taking to the beach in a cooler, or any time you want to serve a nice, cool protein-rich dish that can be prepared in advance.

When served in a clear serving dish, it presents beautifully, especially when it includes deep red or black seedless grapes and avocados; then, trimmed with dark green lettuce leaves.

When you want to serve a rich, healthy, delicious meal, think Chicken Salad. Your family, friends, and/or guests will love it. If you are taking it “out,” be sure to prepare a little extra to set aside for your family.

Photo Credit: Chicken Salad Classics via photopin (license)

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