I have to admit, this cute little finger food idea is something I came across almost two years ago, but somehow I completely forgot about it until the other day when I was reformulating my chicken salad recipe. I love it because it brings a healthy element to the holiday snacking spread of cookies, candies, eggnog, and pie. It can be tempting to load up on sugary, starchy, nostalgic comfort foods this time of year, but if you present something healthy and delicious in your holiday spread, you might be surprised at how many people will appreciate the reprieve from the (delicious) junk.
Quick unrelated confession: I had to pull myself away from buying a canister of a chocolate and caramel drizzled popcorn and almond concoction the other day. I seriously canNOT resist when that stuff is around. Thanks to an encouraging text message from a friend, I successfully left the store without the purchase, but it was a close call! This time of year is hard for everyone, even health and wellness bloggers!
A chicken salad recipe is one of those recipes that has room to breathe; it’s more a formula really. It can change every time you make it based on what you have in your kitchen. It can be more or less healthy, and it can be adapted to a wide variety of flavor profiles. As you know, I’m big on intuitive cooking — a little bit of this and a little bit of that — and only since launching this blog did I start really paying attention to measurements so that I could share them with you in some coherent manner. This recipe has some good ingredient estimates, but for the record, I believe in you. If you want to add more of this or that, do it. I’m sure it will be great. 🙂
3 Secrets for Healthy Delicious Chicken Salad
There are three main secrets in concocting a healthy, delicious, and (dare I say) perfect chicken salad.
Secret #1: Use organic chicken (pastured if you can find it and afford it). I often make chicken salad when I’ve bought an organic rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods and have eaten the dark meat for dinner. That’s a great way to go, but you can also cook the chicken yourself too if you find a pastured one. Using organic will mean that your chicken ate non-GMO feed, but eating pastured means that it was walking around enjoying the sunlight and grubs it was digging up in the dirt. Both are preferable to conventional chicken. Find out more about pastured chicken and eggs in this post.
Secret #2: Pack in as many green things as possible, especially herbs. This recipe includes a lot of celery, chopped green onions, and fresh parsley. Fresh herbs provide a wild and highly nutrient-dense element to your food, and adding them into everything you eat as often as possible is the best way to ensure that you’re getting a good array of phytonutrients. The mayo I used also had some fresh herbs in it, which brings me to secret #3.
Secret #3: Make your own mayo if you can. It might seem like a lot of work or creating extra steps, but I promise you, it takes 2 minutes or less to make your own mayo (just watch the video. It’s like magic).
Advantages of Homemade Mayo:
- You can control quality – if you have the highest quality pastured eggs and organic oils in your kitchen, then you are already leaps and bounds ahead of what you can buy at the store.
- You can control the flavor – a small batch of mayo can be whipped up in mere seconds, so you can make it to match whatever suits your fancy. Want a cilantro mayo for this recipe and a smoked paprika mayo for that one? Great! Customize to your heart’s content. This also means controlling for how much salt is added if you’re concerned about sodium intake (not that I’m saying you should be, but if you think you should be, you can control that element here too).
- You can control what type of oil you use – the type of oil you use dramatically affects how nourishing (or harmful) the mayo will be to your body. Most people regard mayo as an ‘unhealthy’ food. Store-bought mayo with conventional eggs and processed soybean an canola oil is unhealthy. What you make at home with the right ingredients won’t be.
Holiday Cucumber Bites
You don’t typically think of chicken salad as finger food. It’s wet and messy, but if you package it in adorable little bite-sized nibble, it’s the perfect, high-protein finger food. These little cucumber cups are adorable and also another way to add a veggie into the mix instead of using a cracker or mini toast. It’s also friendly to those working on reducing processed carbohydrates or avoiding gluten.
- Chicken Salad-Stuffed Cucumber Cups2014-12-05 11:43:14Write a reviewIngredients
- 2 chicken breasts, cooked
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 3-4 tbs dijon mustard
- 2-3 tbs mayo*
- Juice from 1 lemon (separate in half)
- Mix all chicken salad ingredients (using only 1/2 the lemon juice) with two forks in a large mixing bowl until well-combined
- Slice cucumbers into about 1 inch slices
- Scoop out centers of each piece to create a tiny cucumber cup
- Squeeze a little lemon juice into each “cup”
- Using a spoon, place a bite sized portion of chicken salad into each “cup”
- OPTIONAL: Sprinkle a bit of paprika over the top for color
Cultivated Wellbeing http://www.tonisicola.com/
- *If you have time, I recommend making your own mayo. For this recipe, I made mine using the instructions linked in that video, but I used olive oil instead of coconut oil and added some fresh herbs into the mix. Both work great for this chicken salad recipe. If you're using store-bought mayo, try to find an organic one with high-quality oils and eggs.