As a new mom (again) I forgot how much your body abandons you for other functions. From providing breast milk to recovering from child birth sometimes I feel like I have lost control of my own body and think to myself, "will my nipples ever feel normal again?". With late night feedings and early morning wake up calls from our baby Mary I have found myself snacking or grabbing a bite of food from the kitchen when I can. Cookies and pringles are some of the top contenders. Hell, as I am typing this I am snacking on cheetos! While these foods may be convenient, they are definitely not going to help me get my pre baby body back. I've decided I will take baby steps (no pun intended) in getting back into making better food choices.
So when I wanted to visit my husband at work I decided I would take us lunch and make it something that would set us on the path to getting our beach bodies back. Ha! I knew I wanted to make us a chicken salad but my husband despises mustard and mayo. So I knew typical chicken salad wasn't going to be an option. I wanted something light and full of veggies, and we LOVE cilantro and lime together so a southwest style chicken salad immediately came to mind. Let me just tell you, this is going to be our new go-to meal. It is so incredibly light and packed and I mean PACKED full of things that are good for you! This is perfect for a picnic, lunch at the pool, weeknight dinner or even an afternoon snack.
Let me tell you how to create yummy healthy dish....
First prep your chicken by cutting and pulling it into bite size pieces. I used a whole rotisserie chicken for this recipe, but if you prefer to just use breasts or tenderloins then by all means...you do you boo. Place the prepped chicken in a medium bowl and set aside. Now grab a skillet and drizzle the bottom with a little oil, I used extra virgin olive oil, but use what makes you happy (canola, vegetable, coconut, grape seed, sunflower...did you know there are so many dang oils to choose from?) and into the hot skillet add zucchini, spinach, carrots and fresh garlic. With a toddler in our house who doesn't always love eating veggies I always buy my carrots shredded and then sometimes I'll even give the shredded carrots a rough chop to be able to hide them in the food even more. Being a mom has made me into a magician with vegetables, I'm constantly trying to figure out how to sneak them into our food. The great thing about any salad is it can be kind of a "catch all" for many ingredients. So if you have other veggies on hand you can use those, never let a veggie go to waste! I let these veggies cook for about 5-7 minutes then I added in my onion, jalapeños, and bell pepper and cook those for about 3-5 more minutes then turn it off to let cool. I added these veggies later because I wanted the salad to still have some crunch and texture without having the strong flavor of a raw onion. Now to your bowl of chicken add your corn, cilantro, black beans and lime juice. Now you can add your slightly cooled veggies to your chicken bowl and stir to combine. So at this point you've got yourself a pretty tasty chicken salad, but we aren't done yet. I want to add cheese, tomato and avocado. My suggestion is to add those ingredients just before you serve them. So if you are only serving a couple portions for lunch, then only portion out what you need then add them. The lime juice will help your avocado from turning brown, but its not a miracle worker, it will leave you with extra soft slightly brown avocado if you wait to eat it the next day. Same with the cherry tomatoes, their juice will make your salad a little soggy. So, I suggest saving these for a last minute addition.
Guys. It's amazing. Light and healthy with a yummy salty and savory flavor. Creamy decadence from the avocado and a crisp freshness from the cilantro and lime...not to mention protein packed with your black beans and chicken! This was a huge hit! I made a batch to take to my husbands work and we both fell in love. I had intended to make garlic chili-toasted pita chips to go with it, but I ran out of time (you know, because of the baby) and my husband thought that tortilla chips would be better anyway. Well we had it the next night for dinner and had it with some tortilla chips and it was soooo good, husbands can be right sometimes I guess. They were perfect to scoop it up with. Kid tip, my 3 year old loved picking out things she was familiar with in the salad. She likes black beans, cheese and tomatoes so those were the first for her to gobble up, then we gave her a few chips and she happily scooped up the rest! Feeding kids is hard and sometimes you have to try all the tricks to convince them its either fun or their idea (tortilla chips for the win in her case!). The options for this endless. Serve it in mini corn tortillas, on a croissant, spread it on a bagel, eat it out of roasted bell pepper, or eat it simply by itself. I'm not saying I am Picasso and created a masterpiece, but ok, maybe I am a little bit. This is worth a try and will be a great summer staple for us while swim suit season is approaching. Now if I could just stop eating pastries and start working out a bit...but you know, baby steps right?
Here is a recipe for you to have, hope you enjoy this as much as we did!