Friday, May 23, 2014

Greek Chicken Salad

In our home, we don't get around to eating out much during the week. I've come to realize that I feel so much better after a meal at home than I do at a restaurant. Being mindful about my food consumption has really helped to open my eyes to all of the extra additives most places put in their food. I know that most restaurants and large corporations aren't putting these harmful substances in their food out of malice, but rather are looking to preserve the food, make it with less quality ingredients because it's cheaper to feed the masses, or make it taste "better" by hiding a bunch of sugar in it. Interestingly enough, when we do go out, often times I'll sit there and think You know what? I could probably make this at home, with better ingredients, and probably boost the nutritional value. That's really how my love of cooking healthy started. I would have this constant internal struggle with myself...yes, going out to eat is so much easier, but why am I going to spend money on something that I could probably make myself?! And do you know what? The majority of the time I'm completely content with my version and don't feel like I'm totally missing out. I think we've really got to train ourselves to think about food only as fuel and not as a reward system, or crutch. But!...that doesn't mean the food we make at home can't be delicious and rewarding, in addition to being healthy. 

Little known fact about me (unless you're my husband or my friend Bridget who shares this same sentiment)...I absolutely LOVE Greek food. I could probably eat a Greek salad every single day of my life. I especially love feta cheese. And olives, can't forget the olives. Tzatziki sauce has a special place in my heart, though I don't eat that much dairy these days. And I don't know what it is about that phyllo dough, but it is so delicious. I wish I didn't feel so awful after eating it or I'd probably eat a ton more. So I guess it's a good thing I don't! 

Here's a recipe for a delicious Greek chicken salad. If my propane tank wouldn't have run out of gas when I made this earlier in the week, I would have totally grilled the chicken instead of baking it. That would have taken the flavor to another level for sure! You know what that means?! I have an excuse to make this again. Round two coming up soon! But even baking the chicken, my husband gave me an "exceeded expectations," so I'll take it! Enjoy everyone! Let me know what you think. 

Greek Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 1+ hour, 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1+ hour, 55 minutes
Serves 3-5

Special Tools:
Foil lined baking sheet
Large bowl


For the chicken marinade:
3 organic chicken breasts
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tbsp of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp of fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp of fresh oregano, chopped
3 garlic gloves, minced
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

For the salad:
3-4 cups of cooked chicken, diced
3 strips of bacon
1 1/2 cups of cucumber, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup kalamata olives, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 small carrot, shredded
1 small avocado, diced
3/4 cup of feta cheese (leave out for strict paleo)
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of lemon juice
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp of fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 pepperoncini peppers, whole or sliced (optional)

1. Place the chicken and all the marinade ingredients in a plastic bag and marinate for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 415 and cook the chicken on the foil lined baking sheet for 20 minutes.
3. When the chicken is done, set it aside and allow to cool completely on a plate. Don't dice the chicken yet. Allowing it to rest lets the juices sink back into the chicken. 
4. Remove the juice from the baking sheet, reduce the oven to 375, and cook the bacon for 13-15 minutes, until crispy. Remove from the oven and drain the bacon on a paper towel.
5. While the bacon is cooking, prepare the the cucumber, tomato, red pepper, olives, onion, carrot, and avocado.
6. Once the chicken has cooled some, like there is no more steam and you can handle it easily, dice it up and put it in a large bowl.
7. Add all of the other ingredients to the bowl, except the avocado and bacon, and toss well.
8. Once everything is combined, add the avocado and carefully mix (if you mix it too much, the avocado can become mushy).
9. Chop the bacon and add it to the bowl.
10. Eat by itself or make some lettuce wraps with it!

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