Chicken salad is any type of salad that has chicken as its main ingredient. Other common ingredients may include hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, pepper, onion, celery, pickles and an array of different mustards. Like egg salad and tuna salad, chicken salad may also be served with tomato, lettuce, avocado, or a mixture. It may also be consumed as a sandwich filling, and is made with canned or leftover chicken. It may also be known as garden salad when coupled with roasted, grilled or fried chicken (usually diced or cut up) on top.
In Asia and Europe, a chicken salad may be complemented by various dressings, or zero dressings, and the salad ingredients may differ from traditional vegetables and leaves, to couscous, pasta, rice or noodles.
History of Chicken Salad
- 1 History of Chicken Salad
- 2 Chicken Salad: A Healthy Choice
- 3 Chicken Salad: Nutritional Facts and Calories
- 4 Calories in a Serving of Chicken Salad
- 5 Keeping Your Chicken Salad Healthy
- 6 Serving a Chicken Salad
- 7 Smoking the Chicken for a Chicken Salad
- 8 Chicken Salad Recipe with Grapes and Feta
- 9 Reasons to Eat Chicken Salad
The first American version of chicken salad was served by Town Meats, in Wakefield, Rohde Island, in 1863. The original owner and founder of Town Meats, Liam Gray, combined mayonnaise, grapes and tarragon with his leftover chicken only to discover chicken salad soon became a big hit. The demand was so high that the meat market had to be converted to a delicatessen.
Chicken Salad: A Healthy Choice
For about 80% of people, the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about delicious foods has to do with chicken. Without a doubt, chicken is not only appetizing but also healthy. However, when combined with the goodness of other vegetables and sauces, the outcome is even healthier, lighter, and tastier. By now, you will have a good idea of what we are getting at: a chicken salad, of course.
In a chicken salad, there are three basic ingredients: the delicious chicken, a healthy array of vegetables and the add-ons including oil, vinegar and other condiments. The options are endless. Some recipes also include curry with chicken while others go with the traditional salt and pepper. The dressing may be olive oil or something less ostentatious. Some choose lemon juice instead of vinegar since it is much healthier and less acidic. If you are going with vinegar anyway, remember to not use in large quantities.
The vegetable preference used in the salad will vary too, especially in terms of ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes or corn. Regardless of the vegetables or legumes you use, they are the ones that provide solid good substances, especially fiber, minerals and vitamins. Even if you are not a big vegetables fan, you can still enjoy it thanks to the chicken and other add-ons.
For a kid who runs from the sight of vegetables, a chicken salad is a good option for school lunches and snacks, an option that he will surely enjoy eating. There is really nothing better than chicken salads that perfectly combine both health and taste.
Chicken Salad: Nutritional Facts and Calories
Is chicken salad bad for you? The answer to this lies in the ingredients being used. If your chicken salad is laden with mayonnaise, sodium, countless sauces and minimal amounts of vegetables, not surprisingly you will be at a higher risk of cholesterol and artery-clogging. However, when made with the right ingredients and servings, these delicious salads can be extremely nutritious and healthy.
The key here is to pay close attention to your recipe. A better alternative to getting ready-made salads is to prepare one at home, so you will know exactly what goes into your body and you can rest assured the salad will be beneficial, not detrimental, to your well-being and health.
Chicken Nutritional Facts
Although rich in protein, chicken is also high in cholesterol. It is also low in sodium and a good source of vitamin B6 for blood-building, phosphorus for bone-strengthening and selenium for cell protection. A cup of roasted, cubed chicken meat contains around 231 calories, 45 of which come from fat. This sized serving provides 96% of the day’s niacin, or vitamin B3 dose, an energy generator that assists the nervous and digestive systems.
Onions and Celery
Chopped onions and celery add various health benefits to a chicken salad, including dietary fiber, a healthy mix of minerals and vitamins like vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, manganese and folate.
The main culprit in a chicken salad is mayonnaise, which is primarily made of oil and egg yolks. Diet, or reduced calorie mayonnaise is a slightly healthier option, 769 calories in a cup. Diet mayonnaise is high in fat but low in cholesterol. A serving size of 8 ounces, which is sufficient for a bowl of chicken salad, contributes to about 70% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K, a blooding-clotting agent and vitamin E, a strong antioxidant.
Nuts and Fruits
Many chicken salad recipes include grapes, walnuts, apples and almonds. Fruits add extra calories (through sugar), vitamin C and dietary fiber. Nuts have zero cholesterol and consist of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.
Other Healthy Options
There are numerous other ways through which you can enhance the dietary benefits of chicken salad. You can cut back on the amount of chicken to reduce cholesterol and add extra vegetables and fruits. Replace mayonnaise with yogurt to avoid fat and calories. Add crunchy cucumbers, chopped lettuce, shredded alfalfa, carrots, or sprouts as additional health boosters. Spice it up with a dash of heart-friendly cayenne pepper.
Calories in a Serving of Chicken Salad
Chicken salad can be low-calorie and healthy when consumed with a base of lettuce. Chicken consists of protein that your body needs on a regular basis.
A single serving of chicken salad has 234 calories where the ¼ cup diced celery adds 4 calories and 3 tablespoons of diet mayonnaise contributes to 108 calories.
There are multiple ways to prepare chicken salad. One interesting ingredient is slivered almonds that, like any other additional ingredient, will add extra calories to the salad. Half an ounce of almonds contains about 41 calories.
Keeping Your Chicken Salad Healthy
As mentioned above, most chicken salad recipes include mayonnaise, a fattening agent. However, this doesn’t mean you have to let go of the entire dish just because of the presence of certain ingredients. You can make your own full-flavored yet healthier version. The first way is to substitute salad dressing or mayonnaise with other low-fat types. How about switching to herbs and lemon juice in place of sauces and yogurt instead of mayonnaise? These options are just as tasty and will help you keep calories in check.
If you still wish to use mayonnaise, mix little amounts of mayo with balsamic vinegar, mustard or salsa to not only enhance the taste but also reduce the fat. Add just enough dressing to keep the salad moist. Don’t go overboard. Garnish the chicken with fresh herbs and instead of frying, grilling or baking to avoid any unnecessary fat consumption.
Tasty Ingredient Options
Try an Asian style salad where oriental ingredients like green onions, Chinese mushrooms, bean sprouts, and water chestnuts are used. For the dressing, you can use ginger, wasabi or chili flavors.
Serving a Chicken Salad
You can either present your chicken salad on a bed of whole wheat bread or lettuce. You can also make a sandwich recipe out of the salad by putting it in between two slices of your favorite bun or bread. Instead of pairing the dish with buttery garlic bread or cornbread, both of which are loaded with fat and calories, why not serve Melba toast or crisp bread on the side? This will allow you to enjoy the crunch without the fat.
Smoking the Chicken for a Chicken Salad
First off, you will need two chickens weighing about three pounds each. Choose organic or free range poultry for the best results. Next, brine them for approximately four hours in a mixture of one gallon of water, one cup of sugar and one cup of salt. You can also add spices, fruit juice, or wine to add more flavor to the meat. Now, wash the brine solution off the chicken and coat them with Cajun seasoning and lemon pepper. Put them breast side down on the smoker, at 225oF. Oak is a preferred option as base wood since it enhances the flavor.
The next step is to add apple wood, hickory or any other kind of wood, in accordance with your desired flavor. Smoke the chickens for an hour and a half and then turn them over. It is not necessary to add any fat to the chickens while they cook, but you can add a little olive oil or butter if you want to make it extra juicy. If you are using butter, let it melt or soften before applying it.
It is important not to overcook the meat, so use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. When the temperature is 165oF in the thickest part of the breast, they are done. Let the smoked birds cool down and use them to make a delicious salad recipe or anything else you fancy. The smoked meat also works nicely in sandwiches.
Chicken Salad Recipe with Grapes and Feta
This recipe is a simple one and makes for a wonderful appetizer. You can substitute blue cheese for the feta if you prefer the flavor. Smoked chicken has a strong taste so rich cheeses go nicely with it. The nuts, celery leaves, grapes, and prosciutto give chicken salad a gourmet feel.
- 2 shredded, smoked, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 slices prosciutto
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup celery leaves from the center of the bunch
- 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup chopped walnut halves
- 1 lb seedless grapes
- 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves
Lay the prosciutto on a baking tray in one layer and broil it for a few minutes, until it is crisp around the edges. Whisk the oil with the vinegar. Tear any big basil leaves and sprinkle over the cooled prosciutto. Next add the smoked meat, celery leaves, grapes, cheese, prosciutto, walnuts, and basil to a big salad bowl and add three quarters of the dressing. Toss well to combine, and then add salt and black pepper to taste. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the salad and serve immediately. This recipe serves four people.
Reasons to Eat Chicken Salad
Chicken salads can be a combination of various vegetables, chicken, nuts and fruits, making them a nutrient-rich meal. With the consumption of chicken salad, if made with the right ingredients in the right proportions, you can expect the following benefits:
Vegetables are a good source of fiber and helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Fiber is also great for regulating bowel movements and improving the digestive system.
Chicken is a lean protein, which means you can use it for making nutritious, low fat recipes besides getting your daily nutritional dose. If you like to use cheese in your chicken salad, go for low-fat cheese to keep the fat content low. Leafy greens, like lettuce, are also a great protein source and when combined with chicken and other vegetables, perk up your protein intake significantly.
Majority of chicken salads contain vitamins A and C which come in the form of antioxidant carotenoids. Besides a good supply of vitamin C, a cup of spinach can provide you 93% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Similarly, lettuce provides 88% while half of a medium sized carrot in addition to the lettuce will provide you 100% of the daily recommended vitamin A intake. Other vegetables that are rich in antioxidants include tomatoes, broccoli, corn, sweet red peppers and Brussels sprouts.