Lunch with a Friend – Healthy Chicken Salad

I have a really good friend who just had a birthday in April. I was wracking my brains to think of what to get her for a present. She loves things for the house, but I always get her something like that. I was really looking for something different. Finally I decided to give her the gift of time and relaxation.

We both have kids and part-time jobs and never feel like we get enough time to spend with each other. We are usually juggling emails from the PTO and other volunteer obligations, running kids from here to there and trying to balance work and family life. We always say we will spend more time together, but we don’t often manage it. So I decided to give her a home cooked lunch. Sure, I could have treated her to lunch out, but I wanted to cook for her and I wanted us to have uninterrupted time to eat and relax. Her birthday was several weeks ago, but various commitments pushed the date back to today.

I spent the weekend trying to figure out what to make. We work out together several days a week and we were going to be having lunch right after the gym, so I didn’t want to make anything that would cancel out our workouts. On Saturday Rich and I went to a local produce farm and bought some beautiful lettuce and strawberries. I decided to make chicken salad and serve it on a bed of lettuce with strawberries on the side.

I jazzed up the chicken salad with dried cranberries, pecans and celery, and used low fat mayonnaise and nonfat yogurt for the dressing. I am including a recipe, but bear in mind I really didn’t measure anything, so the amounts are approximate. I was going for nutritious, so I tried to keep the add-ins fairly healthy, without sacrificing taste. And I went with a minimum of dressing, using just enough to hold it all together.

I made the chicken salad right after breakfast and left it in the fridge. I shredded the lettuce and arranged it and the strawberries on the plates before I left for the gym.

All I had to do when we got to my house was to set the table, add the chicken salad to the plates and get drinks. It made for a perfect low-fuss lunch, which left us more time to talk and catch up.

Healthy Chicken Salad
from The Cook’s Life
serves 2, easy to double

2 cups cooked white meat chicken, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons pecans, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons nonfat yogurt, approximately
2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise, approximately
Garlic powder
4 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
10 strawberries, sliced

Mix chicken, celery, cranberries and pecans. Add yogurt and mayonnaise and mix well.  If mix seems too dry, add a little more yogurt or mayonnaise. Add a dash of garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. If you have time, refrigerate for several hours for the flavors to blend. Divide lettuce evenly between two plates. Arrange sliced strawberries around the edge of the lettuce. Divide chicken salad evenly between the plates and serve immediately.

Download recipe here.


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