Skinny Chicken Salad

introI was reminded of something recently, and I wanted to remind all of you, too.  Since it’s the beginning of the year, and lots of you out there have probably made New Year’s Resolutions involving health and nutrition, I have a little tip. This past December I wanted to make it through the month without gaining any holiday pounds like I usually do.  I didn’t have a great October/November (weight and nutrition wise) and I got into bad habits that just stalled out  my metabolism.  I had a great plan to get back on track in December and it involved a low-cal diet and extra cardio (let’s be honest, to compensate for the goodies I planned to eat!)  I work with an excellent trainer and when we met on the first of December, he (knowing my habits well) gave me some very different instructions.  Instead of a low-cal diet, he told me to do the opposite; a rather high-calorie diet.  I was to make good choices, obviously, but eat a normal diet and hit nearly 2000 calories each day.  That’s a lot of calories for someone my size.  And that cardio I planned on?  Nixed.  None.  Nada.  No cardio allowed.  No running, no elliptical, no stair-climbing.  He knows that’s my safety net and I figure I can always eat an extra brownie and run it off the next day.  So for that month my job was to just focus on solid resistance training each day and to eat constantly.  At first it was actually really hard.  I felt like I was eating when I wasn’t starving and that felt weird.  I made sure to eat every 2 hours though, all day long. What happened was that my body got trained to expect food that often (good, healthy food) and soon I was hungry on the dot, every two hours.  My metabolism learned to work again and I felt better than I had in weeks.

Skinny Chicken Salad_Our Best Bites

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

That being said, I was worried with all of the eating I was doing, it wasn’t doing me any favors on the scale.  My trainer warned me I might even gain a pound or two during the month, but that it would all be beneficial in the end and this is what I needed to do to fuel my body the right way again.  Well, at the beginning of this month, I hopped on the scale again and guess what I found?

My weight was down, but only by 1 1/2 pounds.  Good but not anything to rave about.  But then I got pinched and prodded and measured to find out what the numbers actually mean, and after the calculations?

4 1/2 pounds of fat, gone.  The 1.5 weight loss was because I also put on 3 pounds of solid muscle.  Now that is something to rave about. I was an inch smaller around my waist and lost another 1/2 inch around my hips and arms.  So why am I telling you all this?  Because it’s a good reminder to me and everyone else of one of the most important keys to weight loss:

EatI’m constantly hearing friends say things like, “let’s go out tonight because I’m starting no sugar for 30 days tomorrow!”  “Let’s drink juice for a week!”  “I can only eat steamed egg whites and broccoli right now!”  “Ack, carbs!  Stay away!” ”  And it’s so easy to get caught in stuff like that when you want to see quick results.  But I know from experience that the key to good health is solid nutrition.  It doesn’t mean you have to give up certain food groups or go crazy and starve yourself.  And it’s not as complicated as many people make it out to be.  For me, remembering to eat really regularly, eat enough,  and eat balanced meals (including fats and carbs) helps me fuel the right way and have energy to work out and make it through my day.

That was a long little ramble, but I think it’s a good reminder.  If you want to lose weight, sometimes you need to remember to eat MORE!  And as a side note, because people have been asking in comments and on Facebook and Instagram, I will share more on this subject.  I haven’t until now because it can kind of be a touchy subject with some people (and a rather personal one for me), but I’ve lost a significant amount of weight in the past couple of years (you can see the evidence here!), and have a lot of thoughts that I believe can help, and hopefully inspire, others.  I’m working on the posts right now, so keep your eyes out over the next month or so and I’ll share my story.

Okay, so I mentioned in my last post (another great salad, scaled for 1) that every few days I either grab a rotisserie chicken when I’m at Costco (because it literally pains me to buy them anywhere else for half the size and twice the price) or cook up a few chicken breasts in the oven to have in the fridge for things like this.  I’ve found that a 4-ounce serving provides a hearty amount to keep me full, and a good serving of protein (about 22 grams).  It’s about 1 cup of diced or shredded cooked chicken.  Chicken Salad from a deli is often loaded with fat and calories, so it gets a naughty reputation, but a good healthy chicken salad is totally doable.  This is one of my go-to lunches during the week.

Skinny Chicken Salad Chicken

I love a lot of crunch in my chicken salad, so there must, must be celery in there,

Skinny Chicken Salad Diced Celery

along with green onions for flavor.  Another must.

Skinny Chicken Salad Diced Onion

I also need a little sweetness.  Red grapes are always great in chicken salad, so you can certainly use those, but I choose to use a sweet apple.  It not only adds crunch and sweetness, but also has a much more favorable nutritional profile than the grapes.  Apple (leave that skin on!) will add fiber, and they’re also very low on the glycemic index.

Skinny Chicken Salad Diced Apple

I also love the color of the red apple in there.  Just make sure you’re choosing a variety that is both sweet and crisp.  Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, and Pink Lady are all faves of mine.

Skinny Chicken Salad Mix

For the “sauce” we’re not doing anything crazy here- I’m staying with traditional flavors of mayo and sour cream.  There are a lot of options out there for lower-calorie mayonnaise and I would not recommend all of them.  Honestly, a little bit of a bad mayo can totally ruin a recipe.  One of my favorites is this Best Foods Light (Or Hellemans’s on the East side of the country) – I always just remember the lid color because there’s so many options!  I also like this one, made with olive oil.  It’s great for recipes like this, and on sandwiches, etc.  The only thing I absolutely will not make with low fat/light mayo is ranch dressing.  It just isn’t worth it!

Light mayo

Along with a tablespoon of the light mayo, add a tablespoon of light sour cream or greek yogurt.  For the seasoning, I keep it simple with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste) and curry powder for flavor.  I also put in just a tiny bit of red wine vinegar (honestly any kind of vinegar is fine- white wine, rice vinegar, even balsamic) because I think it’s benefited from a little acidity.  But if you don’t have vinegar, it’s no biggie.

Skinny Chicken Salad Sauce

Another optional is fresh parsley or cilantro.  I usually have some in my fridge so I toss it in there.  Fresh herbs brighten everything.  No prob if you don’t have any.

Skinny Chicken Salad Mixing

Then just mix it up.  If you have time to think ahead, I think the flavor is significantly improved by an hour or so sit in the fridge.  So this is a great one to make in the am (or even the night before) and take to work, or just have it ready to go at home when hunger strikes. Right before serving, stir in a few toasted almonds.

Skinny Chicken Salad_Our Best Bites

This is a good-sized salad.  It’s enough that you can eat it plain and still be filled up, or you can put it on a piece of whole grain bread, wrap it in a tortilla, or pop it in a pita.

Skinny Chicken Salad from Our Best Bites

Skinny Chicken Salad

A great mix of sweet, tangy, and crunchy, this Skinny Chicken Salad makes a fantastic lunch.


  • 4 ounces shredded or diced (cooked) boneless, skinless, chicken breast (abt 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet, crisp apple
  • 1 tablespoon light mayo
  • 1 tablespoon light sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • optional: 1/2-1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sliced almonds
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients except almonds and stir to combine. If possible, chill for an hour or so before eating.
  2. Before serving, mix in almonds.
  3. Eat in a lettuce wrap, on whole grain bread, in a wrap, or in a pita.


1 review



  1. I was just reading and article yesterday about eating more to lose weight. It is so hard!! I feel guilty and I just think it ruins all the effort I put in my workouts. I need to lose 15 lbs by May, I will definitely use your advice. Thanks for sharing the info Sara!!!

  2. I love this diet advice. It seems so much healthier than cutting out entire food groups. For me it’s way more sustainable to say “I will eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of veggies” than to say “I will never eat bread again,” which I will break by 9:45 a.m. on the first day. Thanks for a good reminder and for another fabulous recipe!

    1. p.s. I think losing 1 1/2 pounds in December IS something to rave about. If you count the 3 1/2 pounds you didn’t gain you’re really down 5 pounds. πŸ™‚

  3. I do greek yogurt plus dijon mustard and a bit of lemon juice. I wasn’t happy with the taste of greek yogurt by itself, but the dijon mustard really made all the positive difference!

  4. I really appreciate your post today – I am needing some encouragement to lose weight (a lot of weight) and this is just what I needed! Thanks!

    1. Michelle- stay tuned. I’m working on a little post series on this topic because there seems to be a lot of interest. I’ve lost over 60lbs in the past 18 months or so, so I have a lot of thoughts, and tips! I’ll be sharing my experience soon, and hopefully it will give you an extra boost of encouragement!

      1. Yay! I have noticed your weight loss in pictures and have been hoping you would post about your experience!!!

      2. 60 pounds?! That’s fantastic! I need to lose about that much. I’m a pretty avid runner, and I eat fairly well, but I definitely get in ruts. I am really excited to see your other posts. I don’t know why, but I guess I just always saw you as being tiny!

  5. Ooh, this sounds really yummy. I really need to find better things to eat for lunch other than grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadillas. This would be easy enough, and I have a lot of it already in my fridge! My husband would probably love it on a sandwich for his lunch box too. I think it’s an awesome idea to eat more while trying to lose! The body will totally hold onto fat and food as survival mode kicks in if you don’t eat enough. I also think it’s great that you reminded us that while we’re losing, we can actually gain muscle weight as we get stronger! What a great post. Thanks!

  6. Looks delicious! And just a hint for readers in my neck of the woods…Best Foods mayo = Hellman’s mayo. Same stuff, literally. Thanks for another great recipe, Sara!

  7. This looks delicious! I love homemade chicken salad. Thank you for the weight loss advise as well. It is time to jump back into a healthy life again.

  8. I realize this is a recipe blog, not a weight loss one, but would you be willing to share some ideas of what you eat every two hours or the kind of strength training you use? Would love more tips; you are awesome!

  9. yum! Thanks! Perhaps you could create a “skinny” category of recipes? Skinny but still tasty! I certainly can’t totally eliminate desserts, breads, etc from my diet, but I can limit how much I eat (well most days!).

  10. Do you think it’s healthier to bake your own chicken breasts or are the rotisserie ones ok to use too? I’ve never tried using that in chicken salad. I actually have this on my menu board for tomorrow night. Almost same exact recipe, except I use grapes! I also have apples in my fridge so maybe I’ll try it using both!

  11. Hi, Sara! Another recipe for me to be super excited about! I seriously loved this post – moderation in all things. I’m so shocked how many people think the answer is to eliminate sugar or carbs (or whatever it may be). It is not healthy, not sustainable and I’m unable (unwilling) to do it. There is no such thing as a magic pill! Eat right and exercise, thats the key. Thank you for the reminder as well that it’s so important to eat – fuel the body with healthy food. It pays off in the end. You’re so awesome! Keep the yummy, healthy recipes coming!
    PS I made your Healthy Thai Chicken Salad for lunch last week for me and my hubby. It was SO delicious!

  12. I think these posts are great! So often people go on diets, that only last so long, instead of adopting a healthy lifestyle and relationship with food. I’ve been looking for fast, easy salad recipes, and my husband and I have already enjoyed your Thai Chicken Salad earlier this week. We’ll be whipping this recipe up too for sure. No doubt that you will inspire many people with your personal stories and great recipes. Good for you!

  13. I’ve wanted to try the “eat smaller meals, more often” diet method, but how do you make it work with your family? Like, do you make separate meals for their breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

    1. We don’t really eat Breakfast or lunch together as a family (like, in the morning, kids eat cereal, and I eat after I get them off to school anyway) and for lunch I make easy stuff for my toddlers so I can whip something up just for me, so that’s no biggie. So dinner is the meal where this comes into play and I’m adamantly against having to cook an entirely different meal for myself than I do for my family! So I find ways to adapt so everyone is happy. Often I’ll make something like grilled chicken and veggies, and while my husband and I have ours over quinoa, I’ll boil some pasta for the kiddos. Or if we do tacos, My husband and I will have ours on a salad and the kids can eat on chips. I’ll go into more detail when I write a post about this, but easy adaptations like that make it so everyone is happy!

      1. I love that-I started doing the same thing and it certainly makes for more success when you don’t feel like you’re a) starving yourself in front of your kids and b) not a short order cook.

  14. Great post. The key to a high calorie diet is “good food choices”. If you put junk in, you feel like junk and your body will look like it too. I only drink whole milk and I’m considered the healthiest of my friends. Low calorie doesn’t always mean good for you. Those 100 calorie snack bags are just sabotaging people. I’m so excited to see how you approach healthy eating. πŸ™‚ well done.

    1. Oh, just read some of the comments. They answered my question. Next time I’ll scan those first. πŸ˜‰

  15. amen!! I think food (especially good food) is one of life’s greatest pleasures and life is too short not to enjoy eating everything. (in moderation, of course) Yes, you can have bread- just not the whole loaf. You can have chocolate cake too- just not the entire cake. You can even have dairy!! In fact, you probably should. I think diets that totally eliminate a certain food group are not only unrealistic, but not healthy, Unless you have a true allergy to something. Thank you for your post! More people need to hear this!

  16. I will occasionally substitute some hummus for part of the mayo in my chicken salad – I put it in deviled eggs too! But that’s just because I think egg yolk is gross πŸ™‚

  17. Made this at lunchtime while my kids ate, had a salad, let this refrigerate for a couple hours and had it for a snack in a small pita because I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. It was so yummy! I put some spinach leaves in the pita as well for some green. I hate Greek yogurt by itself so this was perfect. I was following a meal plan last winter that had a recipe for chicken salad and it was so healthy yet so awful that I could only choke down one bite. This recipe is flavorful and crunchy AND healthy. So thank you! I’m loving the lunch for one recipes. They motivate me to eat healthier and I know they will be yummy coming from you.

  18. Way to go! I am SO looking forward to your posts. I have recently begun my journey back to health and fitness. I am trying not to be overwhelmed by the 60+ lbs I need to lose. You are so inspiring to me! This recipe and the others like it will be great additions to my menu of lunches. I am always looking for healthful meals that I can box up and take to work. Thank you!

  19. I can’t wait to read the upcoming posts! Way to go! It is inspiring, I feel like I try to lose the same 15 pounds over and over. How do you find the determination to keep at it? I’ll lose, then have a bad weekend and have a heck of a time wanting to start back up, even though I feel so much better when I’m trying to be healthy. Ugh. I can’t wait to hear what worked for you! Your recipes are always fantastic, thank you thank you for the delicious food. πŸ™‚ I’m going to go bake up some chicken to have on hand!

  20. I wholeheartedly agree: Being chronically ill, I rarely feel hungry. Hubby notes I get ditzy and unfocused when I don’t eat, but my weight has not budged (kept 100# off for 7 years so far.) I love chicken salad with tarragon and the grapes though will definitely try the apples as we have lots of local apple orchards. Not much of a mayo fan, I use more homemade greek yogurt and sour cream with just a dab of mayo. Thanks for all your inspiration.

  21. Excellent informative helpful post! I had never see your “before” picture – so big kudos to you there…… look great!

  22. Yum please post more recipes like these. I’m sick of the usually super unhealthy ones all over Pinterest it weird diet food. This looks delicious.

  23. wow. Just wow. I have been following you for almost three years and I had no idea that you were ever heavier, I love that you still enjoy food, take care of yourself and respect the journey. Thanks for including us in it, and congratulations on your hard work!

  24. You look amazing! I lost some weight last year too. I have always been an avid exerciser, but the real result came when I made some changes in my eating. Can’t wait to read more!

  25. Last January I committed myself to getting healthier. I started running and lifting weights but nothing really seemed to happen, although I definitely felt better and stronger. Then I started keeping track of my food intake on an online calorie counter. I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater but quickly realized that certain foods I thought were “healthy” were not so much in the amounts I was eating…..nuts and cheese, I’m talking about you! :). I loved your post, Sara! For me, it truly has been a balance of exercising and eating well and eating right.

  26. I just happened to have everything for this hanging out in my fridge.It was so delicious!!! I am also so looking forward to hearing your story! I need to lose 15 pounds to lose all the baby weight plus more to be where I want to be. I have always struggled with losing the weight. I lose five pounds and then it comes back. Yada Yada… This post really inspired me though! I have already been doing the whole eat more often but more healthy thing and it has been going really well. I started last week and am already down 5 pounds (which was weird to me because I am eating way more than what I used to). Yay! Thanks again! I think you guys are great!

    1. Oh and I also think Craisins would be such a delicious add in! I feel like there is about a million different ways to take this recipe to suit your tastes. My sister-in-law has Prader Willi Syndrome (something in her brain never shuts off so she never feels full but she has a VERY slow metabolism so she can only have 800-1000 calories a day) They are going to start using this as a healthy snack for her.

  27. Wow, yum! This looks awesome. I’ve been thinking that I need to change up our normal lunch routine (usually peanut butter sandwiches every day!) so I’m really excited to try this! And you really are a huge inspiration already in so many ways, so thank you! πŸ™‚

  28. It’s the combo of eating healthy every two hours and especially the weight training. Cardio won’t make huge changes in your body, weights will change your body like crazy, partly because the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is and burns through fat more.

  29. I’ve had this twice already and it is delicious! Perfect for a high protein lunch to help me get through the day!

  30. Just made this today using rotisserie chicken leftovers….so.yummy! I made a double batch so I am already excited about lunch tomorrow ;). I love the “healthy meals for one”. I am also excited about your upcoming weight loss posts. I saw your before & after on Instagram…….amazing and inspiring!! πŸ˜‰

  31. I’ve had this the last two days and love it!! It’s made me excited for lunch again! I didn’t have apples or almonds so I subbed strawberries and cashews… Yum!! The only bad thing about it is that my 3 year old loves it too and eats half my sandwich!!

  32. Thank you for this post! Being a dietitian I couldn’t agree with your advice more! We need food not starvation to build good habits and fuel our bodies appropriately. Love all of your recipes!

  33. Hi!

    I am trying to translate this recipe into WW Smart Points with the nutrition info you provided (Thank you). The only thing missing is the Saturated fat amount. (It is required to determine the points.) Would you happen to know this information? Thank you for your recipes, your humor, your encouragement and your inspiration!

  34. This is a great recipe! It’s simple and the ingredients all taste great together. I made this yesterday following the recipe to the T and tonight I just added some cayenne pepper and sriracha to give it a light kick at the end. I’ve been looking for some new recipes to try and these are great. I like that it is for 1 serving since I live on my own and they aren’t expensive. If a 23 year old man can do it anyone can. Thanks for the good eats!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *