Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

I always have the best of intentions when it comes to meal planning. It rarely actually works out for me, but still I try. Recently, my husband I got some of those bento-style boxes to make up some healthy lunches to take with us in the morning. The idea would be that we already have a healthy lunch ready to go, so it saves time in the morning and we would be less likely to go out somewhere. 

The best laid plans, amiright?

It didn’t really work. I think the problem is we made too many meals ahead of time, so by the time we got about half way through, the lunches we made weren’t very good anymore, we were bored with the same thing every day, and the main portion of the lunch was a chicken breast which always ended up really dried out after reheating. I had to go back to the drawing board. I think I successfully came up with some other options besides just plain ol’ chicken and rice, and I also think that making them in smaller batches is going to be the key to less food waste and fatigue.

My first idea was this chicken salad. You don’t have to reheat it, so that solves the dried meat problem. I also only made a few days’ worth, so we shouldn’t get too sick of it and we won’t have to throw any of it away. Served with some whole grain crackers and a lite Baby Bell cheese circle and I think I’ve got a solid lunch option on my hands.

I suggest making this at least a couple hours before you plan on eating it so the flavors have a chance to really come together.

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

4 cups cooked chicken (you can use whatever cooked chicken you want. I put 3 chicken breasts in my Instant Pot with some chicken broth, salt, dried thyme, and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and they were ready to go in no time.)

1 cup finely chopped carrots

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 cup quartered grapes, red or green your preference

1 cup chopped apple, whatever kind you want

Handful of slivered almonds

1-1/2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Juice from half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Keep in mind that none of these ingredients are set in stone. This is just how I make a basic chicken salad. If you don’t like carrots? Don’t add them. Think carrots are the greatest thing in world? Add more! You can put any seasoning you want. You can swap out the almonds for something else. Or remove them altogether. This would also be really good with dried cranberries (not to mention how pretty it would look with that pop of red color!). If you think Greek yogurt is a bit too tangy, you can take some of it out and substitute nonfat mayo or sour cream. If I had some green onions, I would add those too.  

 

Speaking of Greek yogurt, I would start on the lesser end and stir it in in small amounts until it reaches the level of creaminess you like.


This recipe makes A LOT of chicken salad, so it would be good for a party or picnic. The Super Bowl is coming up; you could serve this along with some whole grain crackers as a healthy alternative to the rest of the stuff on the food table.

Greek Yogurt Banana Nut Muffins 

I know the beginning of the year is usually when the healthy resolutions begin. Gym memberships, healthy eating. Well, we are only a couple days away from the new year, so why not get a little head start on the eating part? 

When my son asked me to make muffins for breakfast, I checked out what I had in the cupboards and fridge and threw this batter together. The result was a golden brown, moist and airy muffin, with lots of banana flavor, not too sweet, and packed with protein from the Greek yogurt.

Greek Yogurt Banana Nut Muffins 

2 bananas, mashed

2 eggs

1 cup plain, nonfat Greek Yogurt 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking sofa

1 teaspoon baking powder 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Dash of nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

In a bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.


Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well. Fold in the walnuts.

Scoop the batter into a greased muffin pan. I used coconut oil spray. I also used an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter evenly. I got a dozen good sized muffins this way. 

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


Enjoy warm with a nice cup of coffee. 


Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

So, the diet I am on helpfully divides foods up into certain categories: Power Fuels (high quality proteins and healthy fats), Smart Carbs (nutrient-rich carbohydrates with a low to medium Glycemic Index), Vegetables (non-starchy veggies, high in nutrients), Extras (low-calories options to help spice up a meal or satisfy a craving, i.e. salad dressing, olive oil, coffee creamer, some condiments), and Freebies (condiments, beverages, and spices with less than 10 calories per serving, i.e. herbs and spices, mustard, salsa, tea). 

The plan lays out when you should have these different foods. One of my snacks (I get three a day), allows for a Power Fuel. One of these is non-fat yogurt. I figured it probably needed to be plain yogurt because all the flavored ones are really loaded up with sugar. Then I was in a bit of a dilemma because who wants to eat plain yogurt by itself? Not me, that’s who! So I came up with this plan: Make it into a ranch dip and use it for my unlimited veggies!


Boom! Snack done and hunger gone.

This is actually a very easy recipe and really healthy, so it could be used anytime by anyone, on a diet or not. I’m sure if you weren’t counting calories and fat, you could probably add a little buttermilk to the recipe and it would make a good dressing substitute. As-is it’s probably a bit too thick for a dressing.

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2 teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped*

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped*

Small splash of apple cider vinegar 

Salt and pepper to taste

 

*I used fresh for these two because Trader Joe’s didn’t have the dried version and I didn’t feel like making another trip to the a different store. Fresh is pretty cheap and adds such a good flavor. If you chose to do all dried, you could probably make up a big batch of this and have ranch seasoning mix on hand for other uses. It would store in an air-tight container for up to three months.

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients. Taste it to see if you want to make any of the flavors stronger. Want more chive? Add more. Want more dill? Add more.


Let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours to overnight so the flavors all come together.


Enjoy as a dip or a spread!