Many of us are becoming aware the word salad does not always mean healthy. As nutrition information is becoming more transparent – most notably in cities requiring caloric content displayed in large restaurant chain menus – it is apparent that many of the “healthy” options are not what they seem.
The grilled chicken Caesar salad is delicious wrapped, or as an entrée, but it has an Achilles heel: the dressing. Although you may be able to create something relatively healthy in your kitchen, most restaurant salads will land you in the 700-800 calorie range, the majority stemming from fat and sodium levels that often make a greasy burger a better option.
Making a healthy recipe is easy with a few simple substitutions. The main characteristic of a Caesar salad is the texture of the dressing and the salty kick from the Parmesan cheese. By substituting mayonnaise, half & half, olive oil and other superfluous ingredients with fat free Greek/Icelandic yogurt and a few seasonings, you can turn this into a lower calorie dish with minimal effort and minimal sacrifice in taste.
Caesar Salad Recipe Nutrition Comparison:
|Nutritions||Average Caesar Salad*||BuiltLean Caesar Salad|
* Nutrition data for the healthy recipe includes all options (sprouts, kale & croutons), which if left out this dish comes in at 200 calories and roughly ¼ of the carbohydrates listed. The Average Caesar salad is an average of Boston Market, Olive Garden, Arbys.
Caesar Salad Recipe Ingredients:
- Skinless chicken breast
- White wine vinegar
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper
- Romaine lettuce
- Brussel sprouts & kale (optional)
- Greek/Icelandic yogurt
- Italian seasoning
- Parmesan seasoning
- “Light/Carb Style” whole grain bread
Caesar Salad Recipe Cooking Instructions:
Marinate chicken breasts in white wine vinegar with a HEALTHY shot of garlic powder, Italian seasoning and a dash of lime & black pepper. Grill if you have access to a BBQ for 8-10 minutes, or cook in the oven for 15 minutes in the oven at ¾ heat setting. Be sure to use to top grate with a sheet of tin foil on the level below to catch the drippings. Then let the chicken sit and self cook for 5-10 minutes off the heat – it will retain the moisture that would otherwise wind up on the cutting board when you cut it.
The dish tastes great with diced romaine lettuce on its own but if you choose to add additional layers of flavor and nutrition, brussel sprouts and kale are a great addition. For the sprouts, halve and steam them, once tender, toss them in a dash of olive oil & Italian seasoning along with the raw kale (stems removed) and brown on the grill or broiler on high heat.
This part is simple, put the sliced chicken and the vegetables into a large sealable container, add a ¼ cup of yogurt, parmesan seasoning, black pepper, Italian seasoning, a squirt of lime and shake thoroughly. Shaking the ingredients together will give you the same flavor for a fraction of the dressing used when pouring it over the top of your salad.
If you feel your salad is not complete without a toasted carbohydrate, pick up a loaf of “light or carb style” bread (Pepperidge farms) and toast on low heat until it gets dry and brittle. Choose the “carb style” if available, it’s loaded with fiber and protein at 60 calories/slice and extremely low glycemic, once dressed you cannot tell the difference.
If you try out this recipe, let me know what you think!