Chicken & Avocado Quinoa Salad

I love salad, but I rarely love to eat salad for my main course.  It’s always been a delicious side dish for me (and I rarely make a major meal without preparing one full of healthy veggies).  However, once in a while there is a salad that can steal my heart away at dinner or lunch (usually lunch!).   I’m pretty sure I loved this salad because it was hearty AND fresh.   How often can you put those two adjectives together?  It has quinoa (oh, how I love the texture of quinoa), chicken, avocado, and fresh veggies which is all covered in a light and lemony dressing.  If I’m being honest here (which I always am!), I wouldn’t choose to eat this most nights because of my before mentioned salad quandary.  But, I would definitely eat this for lunch more often.  That being said, it really was a fabulous meal change for us and I highly recommend throwing it in your file of recipes to try.  Besides, don’t you think it looks pretty?

Chicken & Avocado Quinoa Salad
Adapted from Picky Palate

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups broccoli florets
2 pounds cooked, cubed chicken breast
1/2 cup diced yellow or red sweet peppers or bell peppers
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, diced

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Transfer to a large bowl, stirring every 5 minutes to break up. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Place broccoli, chicken, peppers, and Parmesan cheese into a large bowl. Add quinoa and stir to combine.

To prepare dressing, place olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Pour over quinoa, stirring then gently stir in cubed avocado.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 8.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)
Calories:  358
Protein:  30g
Carbs: 27.1g
Fat:  14.5g (1.6g = Sat.)
Fiber:  4.6g
Sugars:  2.6g

Fit Ranch Dip (and Dressing Too)

This is a staple around my house!  It is amazing the way this dip/dressing comes together and tastes so much like the REAL thing.  Have you ever blended cottage cheese?  Well, if not, you’re about to do it because I’m not sure how you can resist trying this!  By taking cottage cheese and blending it you end up with a very similar texture as sour cream.  I just add Ranch seasoning to it, and magically I have a ranch dip that is low in fat and high in protein.  This works great on a relish tray with vegetables, I put it on my baked potatoes, I often times add a little milk to it to make it more of the consistency of dressing and then use it as such on my salads (it tastes so good on taco salads), and whatever else you like to use ranch for.  I’m sure it’s easy to see why this is a staple at my house.  Perhaps it can become a staple at yours too!  Feel free to play around with the flavors or seasoning packets.  My favorite at the moment is the Spicy Ranch mix.

Fit Ranch Dip

1 cup 2% milkfat cottage cheese
1 tsp. ranch seasoning (such as Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mixes)

Put cottage cheese in a food processor or blender.  Process/blend until smooth (texture should resemble that of sour cream).  Add ranch seasoning and process/blend until combined.  Serve.

Serves 8.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 2 Tablespoons)
Calories:  27.3
Protein:  3.9g
Carbohydrates:  1.4g
Fat:  0.5g (0.3g = Sat.)
Fiber:  0g
Sugars:  0.1g