Buffalo Chicken Salad with Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing (Gluten Free, Vegan Options)

It’s been awhile since I posted a recipe.

We’ve been trying to eat healthier for a zillion reasons around here, and to help that Dan and I are both using MyNetDiary to track our exercise and food habits. Essentially it counts your calories and nutrients for you, lets you know what you’re missing and what you’re overdoing on. There’s an allowance for exercise, so yesterday when I did a lot of walking it urged me to eat a little more, even though I was over for my food limit, because my exercise had altered that and put me below the recommended threshold.

The following recipe is one I whipped up for Dan, because he loves buffalo chicken a lot, but of course as it’s usually prepared, it’s no good for you. We used actual chicken, but to go vegan/vegetarian one could use tempeh cut into cubes, or some other fake chicken product, or skip it entirely and add walnuts or something else. Quinoa would be a little different texture, but it’d be a complete protein.

The dressing is vegan because we both do better without dairy, but also making it vegan significantly cut the calories and fat. I made a pile of dressing, and the recipe where I got it from urged people to adjust the ingredients to taste. They also used a firm tofu crumbled, whereas I wanted a smooth texture so I used soft and blended the hell out of it.

This recipe is very easily gluten free, but to do that you need to make sure your tofu is GF. Here’s a handy list to help you there. If you can’t use soy at all, I’m not sure what you’d use to replicate–some kind of nut butter or something with body that won’t change the taste overmuch. You could see if it works without it entirely too, as it might. Just add more Nayonaise.

This salad would also go well in a mason jar salad, and indeed, this is the recipe from where this meal got started. I think too this might be paleo? It’s paleo-ish at the very least, and could easily be modified to be more so, I’m sure.


IMG_3233Buffalo Chicken Salad

2 cups chopped romaine

1 cup chopped baby spinach

1 cup chopped baby arugula

1 shredded carrot

1/4 c chopped red onion

1 stick chopped celery

2 chopped roma tomatoes

1 TBSP black chia seeds

8-10 ounces grilled/baked chicken breast, prepared OR chopped tempeh

2 TBSP vegetable broth, or 1 TBSP oil

2-4 TBSP Cholula or other favorite hot sauce

 

Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing

1/2-full block silk tofu (to taste)

1-2 cups Nayonaise or other vegan mayonaise

3 TBSP nutritional yeast

1/4 (or more) tahini butter

2-5 TBSP apple cider vinegar

2 TBSP lemon juice

1-2 TBSP Cholula

 

Directions:

Prepare dressing by putting all ingredients in blender or Vitamix; combine until desired consistency reached. For chunkier dressing, mix by hand and use firm tofu and add tofu last. Set aside.

Chop chicken/tempeh into squares and stir fry them hot with broth or oil. Add hot sauce to taste. You can really coat it if that’s what does it for you. Let simmer/stay warm as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Chop greens to desired size. I liked making them pretty fine as it mixed more easily and went onto my fork with more grace. Add vegetables, chia, and chicken.

Drizzle dressing onto salad to taste. Be warned, a little goes a long way. I used probably 4 TBSP and it was definitely too much. But if you love a little salad with your dressing, this is tons better for you than real blue cheese, so cheat a little.

This recipe serves two with a cup and some change of dressing left over. As prepared, we’re guessing this salad is about 563 calories, give or take portions and dressing. 270 calories are from fat, 30 grams total, but only 1.7 grams of saturated fat and 3.2 of polyunsaturated. That’d be less if you skipped the chicken, obviously. It has 14 grams of fiber, 37g of carbs and 36 grams of protein. Sugars are 14g, but none of that is added sugar, unless I missed an ingredient on something. 584g of sodium too, though I think that’s because the planner used a tahini with it, and I did not. Considering how many greens and veg you get in this, AND protein, it’s all you need for lunch. I ate it well over an hour ago and I’m still very comfortably full and not at all sleepy as I usually am after a meal. This is a nice big salad, and you don’t leave it feeling like you didn’t actually eat, with all that protein.

And because you did so well, you can treat yourself to some stevia or Splenda-sweetened ice cream, or go get yourself a latte with just a little bit of real sugar.

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