Lesson #57: Citrus Chicken Salad

Low Carb Cooking 101

This evening’s dinner is in honor my move from Cincinnati, Ohio to Deltona, Florida. We are moved out of our interim duplex and into our new house – finally! Sometimes I didn’t think we’d ever get here. I still have a garage full of boxes to unpack and a house in Cincinnati to sell, but the biggest hurdle – getting the new house built – is over and my life can hopefully return to normal (or as normal as it gets).

I’ve been stocking my refrigerator and freezer, and one of the first things I did was go to one of the local citrus groves and purchase some oranges, grapefruit, limes, and lemons. I juiced them all and poured the juices into ice cube trays (one measured tablespoon per cube), then froze them. Once frozen, I popped the juice cubes out and put them in Zip Lock bags, labeled them, then tossed them back in the freezer. Now, when I need a tablespoon of fresh orange juice (or any of the others, of course), all I have to do is get a cube out and thaw it. Nothing goes bad in the refrigerator and I’m never out of whatever juice I need for cooking.

This is both a great time and moneysaving tip. Yes, you can buy lemon and lime juice in bottles, but fresh orange juice or grapefruit juice is harder to come by in small containers and even then they don’t have the preservatives that the lemon and lime juices do that enable you to keep them in the refrigerator indefinitely. By squeezing my own and freezing it in cubes, I not only have all the varieties of juice that I cook with on hand, but I can avoid the preservatives used in the bottled juices. It’s a win-win situation, I think.

Planning low carb meals is all about flexibility. You have to think outside the box and be willing to make modifications to suit your own personal needs. For example, this evening’s meal is centered on Citrus Chicken Salad, which is something that both low carbers and non-low carbers should find appealing. But those of us who have non-low carbing families may need or want to make some adjustments to the menu. For example:

  • If you have small, non-salad-eating children (or large, non-salad-eating husbands), you can serve them the cutup chicken breasts by themselves and substitute a small portion of cooked vegetables (any kind they’ll eat) for the salad.
  • If you pack a lunch when you go to work or just like to have chicken ready for main dish salads, you can prepare more of the citrus chicken that what the recipe calls for, cut it into bite-sized pieces after it’s cooked, and freeze it in individual portions in Zip Lock bags for future meals.
  • You can shred or finely chop a couple of the chicken breasts, freeze them, and then later add some mayonnaise, celery, and snipped green onions to make a mayonnaise-based chicken salad. You could serve that on top of salad greens or spread it on top of Wasa Fiber Rye crackers or sliced cucumbers for a change of pace.
  • Save the extra deviled eggs for quick breakfasts, lunches, or snacks.
  • Don’t waste expensive low carb muffins on non-low carbers. Serve on for yourself and freeze the rest individually in Zip Lock bags for future meals. Make some other non-low carb muffins for the Philistines or slice up some French bread for them.
  • If making the nonalcoholic Tequila Sunrises is too much fuss for a weekday meal, serve some other beverage. The new Diet Coke with Lime or the older Diet Coke or Pepsi with Lemon would be quick substitutes. Or make some lemon-flavored iced tea or simply some sugar free lemonade.

Here’s this evening’s menu:

  • Citrus Chicken Salad
  • Really Devilish Deviled Eggs
  • Low Carb Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
  • Tequila Sunrise (Nonalcoholic)

Here’s the shopping list for the meal. You may very well already have some of these things on hand:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 12 large eggs
  • sour cream
  • heavy or whipping cream (optional – for Tequila Sunrise)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 16-ounce bag prewashed salad greens of your choice
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 sweet onion
  • grated orange rind
  • fresh orange juice
  • fresh lemon juice
  • fresh lime juice
  • 1 4-ounce can mandarin orange slices
  • 7 Seas Citrus Splash Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (or salad dressing of your choice)
  • 2/3 cup hot salsa
  • dry sherry
  • safflower oil
  • black pepper
  • ice (optional – for Tequila Sunrise)
  • sparkling water or club soda (optional – for Tequila Sunrise)
  • DaVinci sugar free cherry syrup (optional – for Tequila Sunrise)
  • DaVinci sugar free orange syrup (optional – for Tequila Sunrise)
  • 1 package Atkins Quick Cuisine Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix

Here’s the game plan:

Boil the eggs for the Really Devlish Delived Eggs a day or two before you plan to serve them. Store them in the refrigerator.

To make things go quickly and smoothly right below dinner, I suggest that you begin marinating the chicken breasts the night before or the morning of the meal.

Prepare the deviled eggs at the same time you begin marinating the chicken breasts. Cover the deviled eggs and refrigerate them until it is time to serve them.

About an hour before you plan on serving the meal (or earlier, if time at the end of the day is limited) make the Lemon Poppyseed Muffins according to the package directions. Place the muffins in a napkin-lined basket or serving dish and put them on the table.

About half on hour before you plan on serving the meal, set the table.

Preheat the boiler and line the broiler pan with the heavy duty aluminum foil. Place the chicken breasts on the foil and continue as the recipe instructions suggest.

While the chicken breasts are cooking and/or cooling, construct the salads and take the deviled eggs out of the refrigerator and put them on the table.

Put the ice and sparkling water into the glasses for the Tequila Sunrises, then add the sugar free syrups and whipping cream and stir.

Cut up the chicken breasts and finish constructing the salads. Take the salad plates and dressing to the table, call everyone to dinner, and sit down to a well-deserved, relaxing meal.

And, finally, here’s the recipes:

Citrus Chicken Salad

For the marinade:

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the chicken:

  • safflower oil or nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

For the salad:

  • 1 16-ounce bag prewashed salad greens of your choice
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 4-ounce can mandarin orange slices
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • Wishbone Citrus Splash Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (or salad dressing of your choice)

Place all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk them together to combine them thoroughly.

Pour half the marinade into a shallow pan or baking dish. Place the chicken breasts in the marinade, then pour the remaining marinade over the chicken breasts. Cover the chicken tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half an hour or as long as 24 hours. Turn the chicken breasts once in a while to keep them well-coated with the marinade.

Place the oven rack 4 to 5 inches below the broiler element of your oven. Preheat the broiler.

For easy cleanup, cover your broiler pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Cut a few slits in the foil to correspond with the slits in the boiler pan. Lightly oil the foil with safflower oil or nonstick cooking spray.

Place the chicken breasts on the aluminum foil-covered broiler pan. Reserve the excess marinade.

Broil the chicken for 5 minutes. Take the chicken out of the oven, turn the chicken breasts, and brush the uncooked side of the breasts with some on the excess marinade. Return the chicken breasts to the oven and continue cooking them for an additional 5 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through and the juices no longer run clear.

Turn off the broiler. Discard the remaining marinade.

Let the chicken breasts cool for about 5 minutes. While the chicken is cooling, arrange the salad greens, sliced cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, and sliced onions evenly on 4 dinner plates.

Transfer the cooled chicken breasts to a cutting board and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Divide the chicken breasts evenly among the salads. Garish with the crumbled bacon and sprinkle the salad dressing over everything.

Serves 4 generously.

Low Carb Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I use Atkins Quick Cuisine Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix. Just follow the package directions.

Really Devilish Deviled Eggs

  • 12 large eggs, hard boiled and cooled
  • 2/3 cup hot salsa
  • 1 cup sour cream

Shell the eggs (duh!) and halve lengthwise. Remove the egg yolks. Mash the yolks and mix them with the salsa. Pipe the yolk mixture back into egg whites. Garnish with dollops of sour cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per 1/2 egg: 61 calories, 5 grams fat, 4 grams protein, and 1 gram carbohydrate.

Tequila Sunrise (Nonalcoholic)

  • ice
  • sparkling water or club soda
  • 1 ounce DaVinci sugar free cherry syrup
  • 1 ounce DaVinci sugar free orange syrup
  • 1 ounce heavy or whipping cream

Fill a 16-ounce glass 3/4 full of ice. Cover ice with sparkling water and add other ingredients. Mix well.

Serves 1 @ 5.6 grams fat, 0.3 grams protein, and 0.5 grams carbohydrates.

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