Recipe: Fresh Chicken Salads And Restaurant-Style Ranch Dressing

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When I think of salads, I think of spring and summer which is just right around the corner! Although with the mild winter it doesn’t really feel like it has left…Salads are a great way to get in your vegetable servings for the day (about 4 servings for a small salad depending on the toppings). When choosing a type of leafy green, just remember the darker, the better. For example, spinach is loaded with iron, vitamin K, and many other nutrients whereas iceberg lettuce is very pale and contains very little to no nutrients. Add toppings such as carrots for vitamin A, bell peppers and tomatoes for vitamin C, or avocado for omega-3 fatty acids. You don’t only have to have vegetables on your salad, mix it up with some berries for those antioxidants and vitamin C. Don’t forget the protein! If you don’t like meat on your salad, you can always use chickpeas, kidney or black beans, nuts, or tofu as your protein source.

I have created two different chicken salads along with a homemade ranch dressing that I adapted by The Brewer and The Baker (originally from The Gourmet Cookbook, 2004).  If you like that thin ranch dressing usually served in restaurants, then you will love this recipe!

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup light mayo
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup light sour cream
  • Handful, fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Stir milk and lemon juice together and let sit for 10 minutes (or you can use 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk). Whisk all ingredients together. Let sit for 20-30 minutes in fridge to allow ingredients to meld together. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge. If you expect to have any leftovers, you can freeze some of it for up to 3 months.

Makes 18 servings.

Serving size: 2 Tbsp

Nutrition Facts: 58 calories 5g total fat 212mg sodium 2g total carbohydrates 0g dietary fiber 1g sugar 1g protein

 

Prepare the grilled chicken for both salads. Even out 4 oz of chicken breast with a meat mallet if needed. This allows the meat to cook more even. Lightly season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder on each side. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in skillet and cook chicken on low-medium heat until it reaches 165 degrees F. Allow chicken to cool on a plate for 2 minutes and cut into strips. Separate chicken into 2 oz portions for the salads. Refrigerate until ready for use.

Salad #1 – Southwest

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups romaine lettuce
  • 1 oz shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup tomato, fresh, diced
  • 2 oz avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed
  • 2 oz grilled chicken, cut into strips
  • 2 Tbsp ranch dressing
  • Pinch of taco seasoning

In a medium bowl, add romaine lettuce for the base of your salad.  Layer the carrots, tomato, and avocado. Then add the beans and chicken. Top the salad off with ranch dressing and a pinch of taco seasoning to give it that southwest flavor.

Serving size: 1

Nutrition Facts: 360 calories 21g total fat 395mg sodium 29g total carbohydrates 14g dietary fiber 6g sugar 18g protein

Salad #2 – Cobb

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups romaine lettuce
  • 1 oz shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup fresh tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp bacon crumbles
  • 2 oz grilled chicken, cut into strips
  • 1 egg, boiled, peeled, and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp homemade ranch dressing

In a medium bowl, add romaine lettuce for the base of your salad.  Layer the carrots, tomato, and green pepper. Then add the bacon, chicken, and egg in layers. Top the salad off with ranch dressing.

Servings size: 1

Nutrition Facts: 277 calories 15g total fat 666mg sodium 11g total carbohydrates 3g dietary fiber 5g sugar 22g protein

 

These salads are great for packing in a lunch to take to work. The salads in this post today are just examples. There are endless ways to create a salad. Get creative and find what you like best!