Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well


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Trying New Things With Chicken

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a chicken recipe. We’ve been eating chicken all right, but I’ve had a handful of recipe fails lately that did not make the cut to be featured on the blog. For weeks, I have been craving a solid honey mustard chicken recipe. It took me fives tries before I came out with this one, but that didn’t stop me from continuously trying to make the perfect chicken recipe. Whether your challenge is training for a ½ marathon, making strength gains at the gym or, like me, cooking new recipes… remember, taking on any new challenge can have its own set of triumphs and letdowns. It’s important to not let those set-backs get in the way of you achieving your goal and boy, am I glad I didn’t quit. My husband has already asked me to make this recipe again since finally nailing it! It’s quick, simple and can be served by itself or prepared in a salad.

Maple Honey Mustard Chicken

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  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup (not the generic syrup we’re most accustomed to)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp of fresh rosemary or 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Lightly season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and lay in cooking dish.
  2. Meanwhile whisk together mustard, syrup and red wine vinegar. Pour mixture over chicken breasts and cook for 30-35 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle rosemary on top of cooked chicken and serve warm.


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Keep an Open Mind

 

photoOne thing I have been trying to work on is being more open to recipe ingredients I am less familiar with. When I first looked at this recipe, my immediate reaction was “fennel seeds?…next please.” It’s a good thing I am overcoming my fears, because this chicken dish was a burst of citrus, fresh air for these cold snowy winter days.

I used the leftover lemon for my haricot verts (basically fresh green beans) and this became one of my new favorite side dishes. Haricot verts are a low-cost, low-carb side dish that goes well with any entrée!

Chicken and Haricot Verts with a Lemony Twist 

For the Chicken:

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 chicken breasts


For the Haricot Verts:

  • 1 lb of fresh green beans/haricot verts (I use a 1 lb bag of haricot verts from Sam’s Club)
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Mix first 5 ingredients for chicken recipe together in a small bowl. Pour ingredients over chicken and coat evenly.

2. Place chicken in oven and cook 30-35 minutes.

3. While chicken is cooking, place steamable bag of haricot verts into microwave and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add shallots, garlic and onion. Sautee for a few minutes until onions and shallots become tender, but do not brown.

5. Add steamed haricot verts to skillet and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir into mixture for a couple minutes and serve warm. Optional–you can garnish this dish with chopped almonds or tomatoes.


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Living and Breathing What I Teach

Living healthy, active lifestyles is not only something that I encourage on all my patients, it’s something that I value in my own life. I strive to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, not only to set a good example for my patients but more importantly to lead a long, healthy life for myself and my family. To show proof, here is how I spent my Friday.

5:15am:Alarm clock! Yes, I did snooze for 9 minutes then quickly got up, dressed, brushed my teeth and out the door we go to Crossfit.

6:00am: CrossFit WOD

Bench Press (close grip) 4-3-2-1
    (75 lbs, 85 lbs, 95 lbs, 100 lbs)

Thruster 8 min EMOM (every minute on the minute) 3-5 reps
(4 reps @ 83 lbs)

5 Minute AMRAP- 1 Turkish get up (each arm), 3 strict pull-ups, 10 wall balls (14 lbs)
3 rounds

7:15am:1 scoop of whey protein powder + 8 oz of almond milk.

9:30am:Breakfast (in between patients) of 5 eggs whites sautéed with mushrooms and spinach and ½ cup sweet potatoes + ½ avocado. I always make my breakfast and lunch meal the night before so I am stocked up and ready for the day.

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12:30pm:Lunch. Typically I have leftovers that consists of meat and veggies but since the leftovers are used up at the end of the week, I threw together a salad and plan on cooking tonight. Salad ingredients: mixed greens and baby spinach, artichokes, craisins, mushrooms, avocado, grilled chicken and walnuts with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.photo 4

2:30pm: Snack time. Gala apple with peanut butter.

photo 5

5:00pm:Pack up and head home but not before having a little fun after clinic-hours. Who doesn’t do a handstand after work to celebrate on Fridays? I also munched on some mixed nuts on my ride home and to the grocery store.

handstand

6:30pm:Dinner is fixed. Kept it simple tonight with my rosemary herbed chicken, garlic-roasted butternut squash and garlic mashed cauliflower. Can you tell my love for garlic??

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9:30pm:8 oz of chocolate almond milk–delish!

10:30pm:Lights out. Early morning Crossfit workout and lots to do on Saturday!

Eat clean, move more, spend time with family, value your sleep and make a point to have a little fun each day!


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Chicken For All Ages

photoChicken nuggets and chicken tenders are food favorites for people of all ages. The downfall for these menu items is that they are breaded and fried and rank low in nutritional value. Even if you bake these items, remember that they were originally fried and then flash frozen to preserve freshness. Keeping up with my goal of exploring a new chicken recipe each week, I found this healthy and gluten-free alternative. Instead of using exact measurements when seasoning the chicken, I simply coated each piece of meat evenly with the spices.

Coconut Dusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce
3-4 chicken breasts

Salt

Pepper

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder

Smoked Paprika

Ground Cumin

2 eggs

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup almond flour

Honey Mustard Sauce

5 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375oF. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Season each chicken breast evenly with spices. Meanwhile, combine coconut and almond flour in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk both eggs together.

2. Once seasoned, dip each chicken breast in egg mixture and then dip into coconut mixture. Make sure each side is coated evenly.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes. (The thicker your chicken breasts are, the longer time is needed to cook thoroughly.) These will not brown up like regular chicken tenders. If this is desired, then cook an additional couple minutes under the broiler setting.

4. While chicken is cooking, whisk together the honey mustard sauce ingredients and set aside.

5. Serve with your favorite vegetable side dish. I chose mashed garlic cauliflower garnished with chives with a mixed green salad.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.paleonewbie.com/recipe-entree/paleo-chicken-strips-honey-mustard-sauce-recipe/


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Figge’s Favorite Groceries

grocery shoppingWith the success of  Figge’s Favorite Things blog post, I thought I would follow up with a list of some of my favorite foods that frequently occupy my shopping list. Years ago, my diet heavily consisted of processed luncheon meats, frozen dinners and snack bars. Today, fresh fruits, vegetables and meats are typically what fill up my grocery cart. This was no overnight process, but slowly, I began to step outside my comfort zone and taught myself how to prepare and cook with fresh ingredients. To stay healthy, I rely on clean, minimally processed foods. Combined with a healthy dose of physical activity each week, clean eating helps keep my cholesterol down, energy up and promotes a good night’s sleep.

  1. Eggs. Eggs have been hounded over the years for their fat and cholesterol content. However, with today’s research on eggs, we are learning that 1) the cholesterol found in eggs is not what is causing high cholesterol in individuals and 2) the benefits of the yolks include a Vitamin B12 source, eye-healthy lutein , zeaxanthin antioxidants, and choline, which is essential for cardiovascular and brain function.
  2. fresh-spinachSpinach. This green giant gets sautéed in with my eggs each morning and makes several appearances in other meals throughout the week.
  3. Peanut or almond butter. If I could eat almond butter every day, I would; but because the cost of it is often more than peanut butter, I tend to go back and forth between these heart-healthy fat and protein snack additions.
  4. Cauliflower. My kitchen often looks like a cauliflower war zone. For those of you that regularly cut up cauliflower, you know what I’m talking about! My preferred way of cooking it is steaming in a sauce pan and then mashing it in my food processor. Add a pinch of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, butter and garnish with chives and you have a great vegetable side dish (not to mention for the cost of $3 or less!)
  5. Spaghetti Squash. We have been having a lot of fun with spaghetti squash this winter. It is a great substitute for pasta in recipes. To me, it is not very tasty when served plain, but if you add mixed vegetables, seasonings, sauces or a homemade mayo to the mix, you’re set-to-go for a delicious meal.
  6. Chicken. This is the most popular protein consumed in our household. For that reason, I am constantly finding new ways to season and prepare it. We also consume beef, pork and fish but chicken definitely takes the podium for most consumed.
  7. Apples. This fruit is a good source of antioxidants and soluble fiber. I usually have at least one and sometimes two apples a day with my peanut or almond butter for heart-healthy, filling snacks.
  8. Whey protein powder. Since both my husband and I do Crossfit, we need a quick source of protein for our post-workout snacks. One scoop of protein powder poured in 8 oz. of almond milk allows my body to quickly refuel after a workout, promote lean tissue growth and speed up recovery time.
  9. Ground flaxseed. This antioxidant powerhouse can be easily mixed into recipes or sauces or can even be sprinkled on top of foods to add fiber, omega-3 and healthy lignans to any dish.
  10. Sweet potato. These Vitamin A giants interestingly are most often consumed with my breakfast meal. I’ll sauté a medium-large sweet potato in 1 Tbsp of coconut oil on Sunday nights and then portion out servings to grab and go for the week. NCI5_POTATO


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How Carb Smart Are You?

Carbohydrate-food-shot-carbsWhat do breads, cereals, fruits, juices, milk, yogurt, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, vegetables, soda and desserts all have in common? If you didn’t already guess it from the title, it’s Carbs. When asked what foods contain carbohydrates, bread, pasta and potatoes are the most commonly identified. Many people do not realize that carbs are actually found in almost our entire food supply with the exception of meats, cheeses and fats.

As Americans, we generally consume way too many carbs throughout the day. Most breakfast meals include toast, Poptarts, pancakes, biscuits or cereal followed by sandwiches, pizza, spaghetti and burger and fries for the rest of the day. These foods are also highly processed menu items that often contain preservatives and other added chemicals.

Do I feel that carbs are contributing to many of our current diseases and illnesses? Absolutely. Does that mean that in order to be healthy, one must cut out all carbs? Not at all.  In fact, many athletes actually need to increase their carbohydrate intake to ensure optimal performance. Research has shown that vegetarians, who are known for having high-carb diets, tend to have reduced risks for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.1

Going “low-carb” is a very popular diet trend to lose weight. While consuming fewer carbohydrates can help decrease circulating levels of insulin, which in turn can help the body switch to a fat-burning mode, weight loss is typically more attributed (but not conclusive in all studies) to the combination of consuming fewer calories, better food choices, less processed foods and improved physical activity habits. Researchers in a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that low-carb diets may give individuals a “metabolic advantage” meaning that more weight loss may be achieved per calories consumed (versus the same amount of calories consumed from a standard high-carb meal plan).2  

This is a very controversial subject since these findings somewhat violate the laws of thermodynamics. Since there is no consensus on what low-carb actually is (for some studies it’s a mere 5% of total calories and for others it’s defined as 45% of total caloric intake), the term smart-carb has become more popular.

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Today, research is investigating the health benefits of low-moderate carb meal plans:

  • Following a “smart-carb” diet in addition to exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity and assist in weight reduction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • A Duke University study found that obese individuals with type 2 diabetes who ate a low-carb diet versus a low-glycemic diet experienced greater weight reduction and greater reduction in HgbA1C. In this same study, most of the subjects (95.2%) in the low-carb group were able to reduce or eliminate their diabetic medications compared to only (62%) in the low-glycemic group.3
  • There also appears to be some variation in low-carb meal plans. A group of Swedish subjects showed greater benefits in waist circumference reduction and improved blood sugar control when following a diet based of meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs and nuts (paleo diet) when compared to a subjects who followed the Mediterranean diet.4
  • The obvious concern with consuming a low-carb diet is the increased fat intake and potential increased risk for heart disease. Fortunately, studies are confirming that higher fat intake when associated with a low-carb diet may not be as big of a problem as once thought.

Low-carb meal plans may not always be the best, but choosing smart-carb lifestyles such as the Mediterranean and Paleo lifestyles are much more suitable for day to day living. Here are a few ways to smarten up your carb choices.

  • Nix pretzels, crackers, chips and granola bars and opt for healthier carb and non-carb snack food choices such as fruits, vegetables, yogurt and nuts.
  • Vary up your breakfast meal. Swap sugar-sweetened cereal and refined white bread for a veggie omelet, turkey sausage frittata or fruit with Greek yogurt.
  • Serve vegetables with a side of vegetables. Many people state that they always have to have a starch with their dinner meals. Why not swap the rice and pasta for vegetable starches such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash or spaghetti squash?
  • If choosing grains, consider whole grain choices such as oatmeal, quinoa or wild rice.

Remember, limiting carbs is not the only way for improved health. The mere reduction of processed foods in one’s diet can have positive health effects.

  1. American Heart Association. Vegetarian Diets. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp
  2. Westman, E., et. Al. (2007). Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(2), 276-284. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/2/276.full.pdf+html?sid=ac06d160-abd0-4ba6-8a19-8b5560469446
  3. Westman, E.C., Yancy, W,S, Jr., Mavropoulos, J.C., Marquart, M. and McDuffie, J.R. (2008).The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition and Metabolism, 5, 36. http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/5/1/36
  4. Lindeberg, S., Jönsson, T., Granfeldt, Y., et al. (2007). A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia,50(9):1795-1807.


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Not Just Another Chicken Recipe

At our house we eat chicken…a lot. One goal that I have for this month is to try a variety of new chicken recipes (so my husband doesn’t get burnt out on having chicken five days a week!). You never have to sacrifice good flavor for eating healthy; however, you do need to step outside your comfort zone and experiment with spices, herbs and other fresh ingredients to create delicious, mouth-watering flavors. This is a perfect dish that incorporates natural ingredients and is solid on flavor. Want more healthy recipes? Follow our Pinterest board!

rosemary herb chicken recipeRosemary Herbed Chicken 

For the Chicken:

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic (I am very liberal with this – we love garlic!)
  • 1 Tbsp of minced fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

For the Salad:

  • Mixed greens
  • ¼ avocado
  • ¼ cup artichokes (I use frozen artichoke hearts. After heating them up in the microwave, I add flavor by using an Italian seasoning blend on top of the cooked artichokes)
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

1. Pre-heat oven to 400oF. Meanwhile, brush olive oil evenly over each chicken breast.

2. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread minced garlic cloves over chicken breasts and sprinkle minced rosemary on top of each piece of chicken.

3. Cook for 20-25 minutes.

4. Toss salad ingredients together while chicken is cooking.

5. Once chicken is done, pour balsamic vinegar evenly over each chicken breast. Serve separately or together as an entrée salad.


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Your Holiday Swapportunities!

The holidays are a special time of year in which we celebrate with families and friends and good food. It’s perfectly fine to indulge a little bit on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but make sure you are not indulging Thanksgiving through Christmas. While losing weight during the holiday season may be too stressful of a goal, just maintaining one’s weight can also prove to be its own challenge. Two major culprits to weight gain during this time of year are increased caloric intakes (from dishes with excessive carbs and fat) and decreased physical activity levels. Staying healthy this time of year is much easier than one may think. All it takes is a few food swaps and better exercise patterns.

Food Swaps

food3_MP9004117011. Bring on the vegetables! Vegetables are such a great food group in our diets because they are low in calories, generally lower in carbohydrates and pack in a ton of vitamins and minerals. Add 1 cup of cooked winter squash and 1 cup of tossed green salad to your plate for healthy carbs, fiber and nutrients. Adding mushrooms, onions, shredded carrots and zucchini to meat dishes can help cut down the fat and calories per serving.

2. Swap vegetables for common starches. Swap 1 cup of spaghetti squash for 1 cup of pasta and save 158 calories. Ask for a lettuce wrap instead of bread with your next sub sandwich order and save up to 350 calories. (Calorie count based off of a regular Jimmy John’s sandwich vs. their un-wich variety)

3. Pull out the yolks. I love a protein-powered breakfast with eggs, but if you are using multiple eggs, the calories can add up quickly. For every egg yolk you take out, you save 55 calories.

4. Swap nuts for empty snack foods like pretzels and crackers. This swap may not change the amount of calories you are consuming, but it will improve the type of calories you are taking in. Nuts are full of nutrients, protein and fiber; and they have a lot more staying power than a handful of pretzels.

5. Be mindful of your breads. Did you know that a bagel has more than double the amount of calories of an English muffin? The thickness of your bread also raises the amount of calories it has in it. If you’re big on sub sandwiches, try scooping out some of the excess bread from the top bun which will reduce the amount of carbs and calories with your meal.

Recipe Swaps

1. Try using plain yogurt for sour cream or mayonnaise in recipes. This will lighten the calories of your dish plus add some protein, calcium and Vitamin D.

2. Substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg in a recipe. Save calories and fat by taking advantage of this healthy swapportunity.

3. Use prune puree in place of oil in chocolate desserts. At first glance, this swap seems pretty terrifying, but I was totally hooked after I made a batch of chocolate fudge brownies with this alternative. Reduce the fat in your recipe in half and replace with ¼ of prune puree. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of oil, reduce to ½ cup and add ¼ cup of prune puree.

4. Use a can of diet soda in place of oils. Choose a diet cola for chocolate desserts and diet Mountain Dew for light-colored desserts. Mix one can of diet soda with one box of cake/cupcake mix and bake as directed. This is an old Weight Watchers trick that my mom used to use. While it is still not the healthiest of dessert options, it does slash the amount of fat and calories in the recipe.

5. Use ground turkey, ground chicken or lean ground beef in stews and casseroles. A lot of people have a hard time switching to turkey or chicken burgers because the lack of fat in the meat causes them to dry out very easily. It’s best to use these substitutes when making a dish with a sauce component such as spaghetti sauce, chili or a casserole. The moisture of the sauce will help keep these leaner meat selections from drying out. Remember to look for all-white meat varieties. Regular ground chicken is made from a blend of both white and dark meat chicken so it has potential to contain just as much fat and calories as ground beef varieties.


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Healthy Recipe – Creamy Baked Pumpkin Risotto

CreamyBakedPumpkinRisotto

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, small diced
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400oF and arrange a rack in the middle.

2. Combine broth, rice, squash, puree, and onion in a 3-quart baking dish, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir to evenly combine.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake, stirring occasionally, until most the water has been absorbed and rice granules are puffed, about 35 to 30 minutes.

3. Remove from oven, stir in remaining ingredients, season to taste and serve. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 269.Total Fat: 11 g. Saturated Fat: 4 g. Sugar: 3 g. Fiber: 2.5 g. Cholesterol: 12mg. Sodium: 253 mg. Total Carbohydrate: 36 g. Dietary Fiber: 2 g. Protein: 9 g.

-www.foodnetwork.com- Recipe courtesy of Aida Mollenkamp; 2012 Television Food Network G.P.

 


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Back In Action- Farmer’s Market Kick-Off Today

After a two-week hiatus from the Illinois Products Farmer’s Markets for the Illinois State Fair we are back in action at the market. Join us tonight from 4-7 pm at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for fresh produce, sweet treats, and more. Tonight we will be giving away salad shakers to the first 100 visitors to our booth. shaker1 shaker2 Complete with fork and a special compartment for your dressing of choice. Also tonight you can visit with our Orthopedic Group and pick up our Healthy Recipe of the Week: Chicken Pasta Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing.

Notes from Amanda Figge,” This recipe has already been approved as delicious. The Channel 20 news studio gobbled it up and when I brought the leftovers up to Lincoln this morning; they were completely gone in 30 minutes (by 8:15am!).”

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fat-free, sugar-free vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 ounces dried whole-grain penne
  • 12 ounces cooked skinless chicken breast, cooked without salt, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 ounces spinach, cut into long, thin pieces or torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, halved and slivered
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, dry-roasted
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fat-free milk (optional)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Set aside.

2. Prepare the pasta using the package directions, omitting the salt. Drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water until cool. Drain well.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the chicken, pasta, spinach, bell pepper, and onion.

4. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat (using two large spoons works well). Sprinkle with the almonds or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours, sprinkling with the almonds just before serving. If the salad seems dry after refrigeration, toss with the milk at serving time to add moisture.

chickenpastasaladcreamypoppyCook’s Tip – For a hearty side salad, omit the chicken and add some shredded carrots, chopped cucumber, or other vegetables.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 358.Total Fat: 7.5 g. Saturated Fat: 1.5 g. Monounsaturated Fat: 3.5 g. Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g. Trans Fat: 0 g. Cholesterol: 75 mg. Sodium: 233 mg. Carbohydrate: 37 g. Fiber: 7 g. Sugars: 4 g. Protein: 35 g.

-American Heart Association, Recipes for the Heart

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