If you shy away from eating salads for lunch because you think they’re nothing more than a ‘diet food’, then you’re definitely missing out! I know this because I used to think the exact same way. Once I started branching out and trying more kinds of salads though, I was 100% hooked. Today I’m going to be sharing a recipe for making the best chicken salad ever along with an out of this world good homemade salad dressing.
The salad itself is of course chock full of healthy green ingredients (avocado, green apple, celery, green onion, and your choice of either fresh cilantro or parsley). I love adding as many healthy green items into my salads as I can, especially since it has been proven over and over that green leafy and cruciferous vegetable consumption can significantly reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. (1)
Add Protein to Salads to Complete Your Meal
In addition to all of the green ingredients, you’ll also be adding in approximately two cups of diced, cooked chicken. I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts when I make this chicken salad but you can feel free to use darker cuts of meat if you would prefer to add a bit of extra fat into your meal. Poultry is one of my preferred sources of lean protein when making a variety of healthy meals, and studies show that it’s an essential part of a balanced diet in order to promote optimal health and wellbeing. (2)
Making a great tasting chicken salad is all well and good, but in order to truly make it into the best chicken salad ever, you’ll need to add one ridiculously tasty salad dressing into the mix as well. Thankfully, this recipe delivers in that department in spades, with a homemade dressing that features one ripe avocado, a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and salt and black pepper to taste.
Make Your Own Salad Dressing
As far as homemade salad dressings go, it just might be the best salad dressing I’ve ever tried. However, if you’d like to customize the recipe a little bit though and use a different kind of salad dressing, I’ve got a few recommendations for homemade recipes from around the web so that you can keep things as healthy as possible:
- Simple Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (Kitchen Treaty)
- Homemade Paleo Thousand Island Salad Dressing (Paleo Grubs)
- Two Minute Creamy Salad Dressing (The Kitchn)
- Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing (Once Upon a Chef)
- Honey Mustard Salad Dressing (Swirls of Flavor)
Making your own homemade dressing is a great way to ensure that your entire meal is as healthy as possible. Before we wrap things up, I thought it would be a good idea to go a little bit more in depth with each of the healthy green ingredients we’ll be using when making this particular salad recipe and pointing out some of their unique health benefits:
Avocado Health Benefits
Considering that you’ll be using avocado for both the chicken salad itself and the homemade dressing, it only makes sense to start there.
Avocado is one of the most nutrient-dense fruits there is, offering up a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and heart-healthy fatty acids. Here’s just a brief overview of some of the more prevalent nutrients you’ll be getting every time you add in some avocado with your meals:
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
In addition to the list above, avocado also contains trace amounts of vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous. (3)
Along with all of your essential vitamins and minerals, avocado is also an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids. This type of fatty acid has been found to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by lowering your total cholesterol levels and blood pressure. (4)
It’s also a great source of dietary fiber, which is essential for controlling blood sugar levels, regulating bowel movements, and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. (5)
Last but certainly not least, avocado is a great source of disease-fighting antioxidants as well. Adding at least one avocado into your diet on a daily basis can go a long way towards helping to keep diseases like cancer at bay!
Green Apple Health Benefits
Most of us have heard the saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” before. Well as it turns out, there’s actually quite a bit of truth to that quote. This is largely because apples are another nutrient-dense fruit, offering up a load of both vitamin C and dietary fiber.
They’re also a solid source of antioxidants, with studies finding that the polyphenols found in apples have quite a beneficial effect when it comes to fighting certain types of cancer cells, such as colon cancer. (6)
Celery Health Benefits
Moving on to the next healthy green ingredient, celery is another great veggie to add into your salads. As with the green apple and avocado, celery provides you with an abundance of antioxidants, further helping to protect your blood vessels, cells, and organs from oxidative damage.
In addition to their vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant profile, celery also contains approximately 25 different anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to relieve chronic inflammation within the body. Considering that unchecked inflammation has been linked to the development of many types of diseases, it’s imperative that people do everything they can to keep inflammation in the body under control. (7)
Green Onion Health Benefits
The first reason that I love adding green onion into my salads is because it adds a ton of great flavor into the mix. The second, and more important reason, is because it’s another one of those veggie miracle foods – it provides plenty of essential nutrients like vitamin A, calcium, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Green onion is also another rich source of antioxidants. It also has sulfur-containing compounds much like garlic, which provide further fantastic benefits for your health and wellbeing. (8)
Health Benefits of Fresh Cilantro and Parsley
Last but not least we come to the final green salad ingredient – your choice of either fresh cilantro or parsley. It should be no surprise by this point that both herbs carry on the trend of adding an abundance of essential nutrients and antioxidants into your chicken salad.
Cilantro provides you with a modest amount of both vitamin A and vitamin C. It’s also jam packed full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and it even contains certain antifungal properties.
Parsley offers up a similar nutrient profile. It’s also rich in antioxidants and other compounds with beneficial effects on human health, with research indicating that the nutrients in parsley can help to support bone, heart, and eye health. On top of that, it’s also rich in cancer-fighting properties.
Healthy Greens Make the Best Tasting Salads
As you can see, this recipe has no shortage of incredibly healthy green ingredients. When you add in the two cups of chicken for the protein content, you end up with one well rounded salad that can serve as a great choice for a healthy lunch, or even just as an immensely satisfying afternoon snack. Enjoy!
More Healthy Avocado Recipe Substitutes:
The Best Chicken Salad Recipe Ever (Tip: Replace Mayo with Avocado!)
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
For the salad:
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and chopped
1 green apple, diced
½ cup diced celery
½ cup sliced green onion
4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
For the dressing:
1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt, black pepper to taste
- To make the salad dressing, mash the avocado flesh with a fork.
- Add the lemon juice and salt and black pepper to taste and mix to combine.
- In a large bowl combine the chicken, apple, celery, chopped avocado, green onion and cilantro or parsley.
- Pour the salad dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
- Serve immediately.