Low Fat Chicken Salad… Salad

Last week I met a new friend for lunch at Tap Trailhouse in Boston’s historical Faneuil Hall District. And as usual, while I was eating I said to myself, “Hmm… I bet I can make this at home.” So I did.

It’s that time of year when I, like most others, finally start to eat healthy after a not-so-healthy New England winter. Last year around this time, I lost 15 pounds and couldn’t have felt better. After filming “The Taste” in Los Angeles, I ended up putting half of those pounds back on, 7 to be exact. So the winter food fest is officially over!

Yesterday I posted a recipe for turkey chili that is 95% fat free. I added about a cup of brown sugar and served it with sour cream and cheddar cheese… but those were the only truly fattening things in the recipe. I cook the turkey separately and drain any fat that may be left at the bottom of the pot. This time, I used extra lean turkey so there was barely any fat to drain. And last I checked, vegetables, beans and tomatoes are pretty damn good for you.

The key to making healthy but TASTY food is the herbs and spices you use. The Chili is a perfect example. I put so many different spices in the turkey you never noticed for a second there was no fat. But back to the chicken salad…

I had this salad for lunch and it was delicious, filling, healthy and different. I altered the recipe a bit by substituting the sliced almonds for pine nuts, and I shredded iceberg lettuce instead of using whole romaine leaves. So there are two ways you can change this salad… lettuce and nuts can be switched.


1/2 lb. Boneless Chicken Breast baked, diced
1/2 C Celery chopped
1/2 C Pine Nuts
1/2 C Dried Cranberries
1/2 Head Romain Lettuce shredded
1/4 C Red Onion diced, optional
2T Mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper

1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 C Olive Oil
1 Shallot diced
1T Sugar
Salt and Pepper

Prepare all of your ingredients: Dice the red onion (optional), shallot and celery, dice the chicken, and shred the lettuce. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, celery, onion (optional), pine nuts and cranberries and toss with the mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, mix all of the dressing ingredients well. You can whisk until slightly emulsified or you and put in a sealed jar or bowl and shake!



In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the desired amount of dressing. Top with the chicken/cranberry mixture.

End of story. The moist chicken, sweet cranberries, and crunch of the celery and pine nuts with the creamy mayo is a perfect combination with great textural balance. The lettuce should be dressed JUST ENOUGH. Don’t let it take away from the flavor of the actual chicken salad.

Remember: You can always add more of an ingredient but you can very rarely take away. As Chef Ludo said to me in “The Taste” finale, “GO EASY WITH YOUR SALT!”  Well, that goes for pretty much everything, not just salt.


Side Note: The best way to cook the chicken is to place two boneless chicken breasts on a foil pan or small oven-safe dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. If you need to cut the chicken in half to see if it’s cooked properly… go for it. Chill the chicken for at least a half hour. You really don’t want to serve anything warm with cold mayonnaise.


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Recipes include:
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Clams Casino
Lemon Chicken
Stuffed Baby Eggplant
Tomato & Ginger Soup
And much more…

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