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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A test in meal conversions - Chicken Salad

One of the things I started to learn on my journey to healthier eating was that it's possible to make many of the same fattening foods I enjoy in versions that are healthier and lower in fat, calories, and sodium.

I thought I'd share one such conversion with my readers, hoping it will help inspire you to convert one of your regular meals to something healthier as well!

So first, here's the regular meal:

It's a chicken salad sub (the "Chicken Salad Classic with Cheese") from Wawa, which is a local convenience store that makes great sandwiches.

According to Wawa's website, their 451 gram sandwich has the following stats:

Calories: 981
Calories from fat: 528
Fat: 59 grams
Saturated fat: 15 grams
Trans fat: 0.849 grams
Cholesterol: 140 mg
Sodium: 2213 mg
Carbohydrates: 72g
Dietary fiber: 10g
Sugars: 10g
Protein: 45g

Okay, well that's not really what you want in a lunch - nearly an entire day's fat grams in just one little sandwich! Not to mention the sodium and trans fats!

Now let's make a healthier version at home. Instead of using mayo, I substitute nonfat plain yogurt, mixed with a little dijon mustard. It adds the right amount of creaminess without all of the fat! And, instead of Wawa's high sodium sandwich rolls, I'm using two slices of low sodium whole wheat bread. You can also use a whole wheat wrap or whole wheat pita if you prefer.

1 13 oz can Chicken, drained
1/2 C nonfat yogurt
6 oz rainbow salad
1 celery rib, chopped
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 C green grapes, cut in half
3 tomato slices
1 C baby spinach
6 slices low sodium whole wheat bread (Ezekiel brand is a good option)

Mix the first six ingredients and divide into three equal portions. Of course, you can have more or less yogurt, and add any other fixings you like to have in your chicken salad. But this is my version! Put on one slice of bread and top with one tomato slice and some baby spinach. Top with other slice of bread.

So now let's see how the nutrition stacks up for my healthy version!

Each sandwich (the recipe makes three) has the following:

Calories: 350
Calories from fat: 40
Fat: 4 grams
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 65 mg
Sodium: 530 mg
Carbohydrates: 45g
Dietary fiber: 7g
Sugars: 11g
Protein: 32g

I've cut the calories to one third of the original sandwich. There are 55 fewer grams of fat, and only 25% of the sodium in the original version. It's just as filling as the original, if not more so, and actually leaves you some extra room in your calorie allotment for a side of raw veggies and hummus.

Is there a meal you'd like me to convert from high fat and high calorie to healthy? Let me know your ideas and I'll use it in a future post.


  1. Hey enjoyed reading your blog today and your favorite two exercises are my LEAST so maybe you can encourage me! I am finishing my first week of a 12 week training/nutrition program for my first competition and would love for you to follow my blog and see what the outcome is! Thanks for all the great recipe ideas ...will have to try them when the training is finished!


  2. Mary, thanks for the nice comments on my blog! If you just keep working at those push-ups and chin-ups, you'll start to like them more. I'm actually going to post some "then and now" video of me doing push-ups soon. I hope it will inspire you to work hard and become a fan of push-ups too!

    Off to check out your blog.