If I had to pick my favorite thing to make for lunch, chicken salad would be it. It’s easy to make in bulk (so you can pack it for lunch all week), it’s inexpensive to make, and it’s a much healthier alternative to your average deli meat (which often has all kinds of hidden sugars and chemicals). And ever since doing the Whole30 (and continuing to eat mostly Paleo), it has been a lifesaver!
I usually make an awesome chicken salad made traditionally with mayo or sour cream (and with the added bonus of sweet crisp grapes and crunchy walnuts… yum!), and I’ve also made a curried chicken salad (with a unique dairy free option). But this past week I’ve been switching it up with this new Fiesta Chicken Salad! A Mexican flavored twist on chicken salad that uses avocado instead of mayo.
It’s kind of like guacamole meets chicken salad… y es MUY delicioso!
Paleo? Put it on a lettuce wrap (or eat it plain). Grain grazer? Put it on a couple of soft sourdough or whole wheat toasted pieces of bread with a crisp piece of lettuce. Throwing a fiesta? Put it in a bowl with some crackers on the side and let your guests have at it. It’s super versatile.
The substitution of avocado for mayonnaise is super healthy. Avocado is packed with healthy fats and is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Sometimes when I cut into an avocado I can’t even contain my excitement and I completely nerd out that such a creamy, delicious food GROWS IN NATURE! Anyone else do this? … *cricket* *cricket*
ANYWAY, avocado is definitely just as tasty as mayo in this recipe, especially with the corresponding Mexican ingredients. And while I love me some mayo and usually will not shy away from it, it’s definitely made with fats that aren’t as good for you as those found naturally in avocados (even if you make your own).
The crunchy red bell peppers are slightly sweet and add a crunch that traditionally would have been the celery’s role. The cilantro and lime juice make it bright and citrusy, and the spices pack it with flavor and give it a bit of a kick. Not a fan of spicy? Just omit the cayenne pepper. This is an awesome flavor-charged recipe that you NEED to try as soon as possible.
Here are two tips for this recipe that I recommend:
Cook chicken in the slow cooker. You can make a whole chicken in the slow cooker, but what I’ve been doing lately is buying bone-in skin-on split breasts, which are pretty inexpensive (and leaner than dark meat). I place four of them in my slow cooker with salt, pepper, and just a little bit of water, and turn it on for 6 hours on low. It makes the most tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken ever, and it couldn’t be easier. When it’s done, just wait for the chicken to cool and use the meat for this recipe, and others (like soup)! It’s a great way to prep an inexpensive protein that will take you through multiple recipes (or tons of chicken salad) all week. Save the bones for chicken stock later in a gallon sized zip top bag in the freezer.
Store covered in plastic wrap. Keep the chicken salad in a bowl, and press a piece of plastic wrap to the top of it to store it in the fridge for up to one week. For as many advantages as avocados have, it does have one disadvantage: it turns brown when exposed to oxygen. The lime juice will help a bit, but for extra protection, this plastic layer will prevent oxygen from touching the chicken salad and limit how brown it turns. I use this trick when I make guacamole or avocado salsa, as well.
Recipe below- enjoy!
|Fiesta Chicken Salad (No Mayo/Dairy Free)|| || |
- 1 avocado
- 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded/chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, finely diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced (or 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion)
- juice of 1 lime
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- pinch cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Mash avocado in a medium bowl.
- Mix remaining ingredients together in bowl.
Store in the fridge for up to a week in a bowl with plastic wrap pressed down on the surface. This will help prevent the avocado from browning.