Try this chicken salad with apples and pecans when you are looking for a satisfying but low-calorie dinner option. I’ve swapped out the mayo for non-fat Greek yogurt and the refined grain wraps for crispy butterhead lettuce leaves. The lettuce adds a pop of color and gives a boost to your vegetable intake. Meanwhile, the yogurt provides extra protein and some beneficial probiotics that you don’t get in mayonnaise.
I came up with this chicken salad with apples and pecans one weekend when my son was off hiking a small section of the Appalachian Trail. Since it was just us older folks at home, I decided to do something lighter for dinner.
I used plain (unsweetened) non-fat Greek yogurt here, but just for the record, I have nothing against a little mayo. (I used it in the sardine salad with collard green wraps, remember?)
However, sometimes it’s nice to change things up. The yogurt provides some additional calcium, protein, and other nutrients that are lacking in the mayo. It’s a simple swap to create a lighter meal.
Similarly, using lettuce cups instead of typical refined grain wraps cuts calories and less healthful carbs. It’s also more visually pleasing (IMVHO) and likely uses more leafy greens than you’d stuff into a grain wrap.
These wraps come together quickly, with no cooking required, if you use leftover store-bought rotisserie chicken. Having some easy weeknight meals in my rotation makes it easier for me to maintain a health-promoting dietary pattern. Consider investigating whether having a few easy recipes (like this one) on hand can help you with your health goals as well.
Get ready, the onslaught of holiday treats is coming!
The coming holiday season tends to mean an abundance of free treats. The goodies often come from all directions: from friends and family, from coworkers, and from holiday parties. If you have a tight grocery budget, it can be challenging to say no to all of the free food.
If you are struggling with this issue, don’t miss this SparkPeople article, Why It’s Hard (But Not Impossible) to Resist Free Food. I gave some tips in the article on how to resist the office breakroom temptations and the food pushers. (And yes, I think it is OK to tell a white lie to get food pushers to back down if needed.)
How to save money on groceries without resorting to the free treats
I don’t typically specify whether you should purchase organic, pastured, grass-fed, etc. in my recipes. I understand that these products tend to be more costly, and many cannot afford the added expense. My take is the decision to support organic versus conventional needs to be up to the buyer.
I would much rather see a person choose a primarily whole foods diet, using items that fit their preferences and budget. A varied diet of conventional whole foods from different food groups may beat an all-organic diet that is severely limited due to cost constraints. Some products wearing the organic label (think things like cookies) are not very health-promoting at all.
To that end, I recently contributed to a piece in Livestrong titled 11 Target Groceries Dietitians Swear By. In the article, I talked about some cost-effective whole food items from Target’s Market Pantry line. Did you know that they offer items such as fresh produce and dried legumes?
Though foodie finds can be fun, you don’t have to purchase groceries from a fancy specialty market. Your local Target or Walmart supermarket offers many good options for those who are trying to eat healthier for less.
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Chicken Salad with Apples and Pecans
- 2 cups rotisserie chicken breast, shredded
- 1 cup apple, chopped small
- ½ cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried cherries, halved
- 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons pecans, chopped and toasted
- 5.3 ounces Greek yogurt (150 grams) plain, unsweetened, non-fat
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed
- 24 leaves butterhead lettuce (or similar lettuce)
- Mix the chicken, apple, broccoli, onion, cherries, and pecans together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Open the yogurt cup and stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, dill, black pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
- Combine the chicken mixture with the yogurt mixture.
- To make each "wrap," layer two butterhead leaves on top of each other. Using two leaves helps to prevent the delicate leaves from splitting while eating. You will have a total of 12 lettuce wraps or 6 per serving.
- Using a small ice cream scoop, put some chicken salad in the middle of each lettuce wrap. Try to get an even amount of salad distributed to each.
- Enjoy this simple, delicious, and healthy meal!
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). I know I said that I was going to bump all recipes with dried fruit to level 3. However, this is a low-calorie, high-protein meal that is packed with filling low-carb veggies for volume. I definitely used meals like this to help me meet my fat loss goals. You are free to skip the small amount of dried cherries that I have included if you wish. If my teen son had been home, I would have added whole grain wraps around the lettuce to make this a higher energy meal. I also could have tossed some more pecans and dried cherries into the mix. It’s not too difficult to modify the meals of different family members to meet everyone’s needs.
What are some creative ways that you are incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet? I’d love to hear your ideas, and let me know if you try this chicken salad with apples and pecans!