Zone Chicken Salad Recipe!!!
I’m going to share with you one of my all time favorite Zone Recipes, simple and healthy, Chicken Salad with a bit of a twist, a healthy twist of course. This was one of the first recipes introduced to me upon my discovery of the Zone Diet and definitely jump started my Zone experience in the right direction, making for a easy transition and understanding of the diet.
Some of you may be asking, “ What is the Zone Diet?” Well, I’m glad you asked! For full details, you can refer to my blog post titled: My Experience on The Zone Diet , but I will recap the basics. The Zone Diet is a great nutritional platform for everyone, but especially for an athlete, trying to optimize physical performance. The Zone Diet is precise and accurate, just like CrossFit, where everything is quantifiable meaning, measurable, repeatable and observable. It’s hard to validate a program or workout if we don’t have a means to measure it with, should be no different with your nutrition; knowledge and awareness is power.
If you decide to give the Zone Diet a try, I recommend you read the book Titled: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road Map, By: Zone creator Barry Sears, a biochemist. This book will help you understand the fundamentals of the Zone Diet and will get you moving in the right direction.
Basically, the Zone diet allows for you to dial in your nutrition in an effort to reach optimal health and performance and done so by weighing and measuring your food intake. The Zone Diet uses a “Block” as a unit of measure, to simplify the process of making balanced meals. A Zone Meal is composed of equal blocks of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, which consist of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat.
What is a Block?
- One Block Protein = 7 Grams
- One Block Fat = 1.5 or 3 Grams
- One Block Carbohydrate = 9 Grams
***Refer to CrossFit Journal Guide for your Block Prescription and Food Charts****
Here is a 4 block meal example:
- 4 oz Chicken Breast = 4 Blocks Protein
- 12 Almonds = 4 Blocks Fat
- 2 Apples = 4 Block Carbohydrates
So to bring it all together, this meals contains 28 grams of protein, 36 grams of carbohydrate, and 12 grams of fat. It is simpler, though, to think of it as 4 blocks of protein, 4 blocks of carbohydrate, and 4 blocks of fat.
The premise of using equal macronutrients (the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats), allows you to control three major hormones generated by the human diet – insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids, thus allowing for you to be in the “ZONE”. These hormones control insulin, inflammation and blood sugar levels, which can negatively affect the body if not balanced properly. I encourage everyone to do your our research and check out the Zone Diet, see if it’s for you!!
Zone Chicken Salad
I first discovered the Zone Chicken Salad Recipe on the CrossFit Journal, where I found a video article, made by CrossFit Athletes Matt and Cherie Chan, who both adhere to a strict Zone Diet. The article was titled: “Nutrition Prep Day with the Chans – The Chicken Salad”.
This recipe was just what I needed since at the time, I was a newbie to the Zone Diet and still figuring it all out. This recipe (along with others) allowed for me to make a big batches on my weekly prep-day and lasted me throughout the majority of the week, thus making it easy to stay on track with my nutrition. Planning is a must…as Benjamin Franklin “If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.”, this quote holds true for me and I think many of us can relate. Fast forward to current day and I’m still following the diet and feel amazing, my performance is through the roof and my energy level are consistent with no ups and downs.
I have been making this chicken salad for the past year and have tinkered with different spices, seasonings, veggies and even different fats. This recipe is pretty flexible and allows for lots of creatively so you don’t get bored or tired of eating the same thing over and over again. This recipe is a great starting point for beginners on the Zone Diet and will make learning the process simple and manageable.
The Original Recipe
- 1 lb. 14 oz. chicken (30 Blocks Protein)
- 4 bell peppers, chopped (2 Blocks Carbs)
- 6 cups celery, chopped (2 Blocks Carbs)
- 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped (2 Blocks Carbs)
- 2 eggs (2 Blocks Protein)
- 2 limes (2 Blocks Carbs)
- 1/4 cup mustard (to taste)
- 2 tbs. curry powder
- 1 cup slivered almonds (32 Blocks Fat)
*** Alternate Dressing Option Below – See Step 4A***
1) Cook your protein anyway way you would like, either grilled, baked or in the skillet. Personally, I will bake or grill the chicken, with yummy spices like onion, garlic and chipolte powder. You can get creative with different spices and seasonings. I also switch between chicken breast or boneless skinless chicken thighs.
2) While the chicken is cooking, chop your bell peppers, celery and onions. Remember you can use any veggies you would like, but keep track of the block count so you can determine what is in your batch of chicken salad (I will explain at the end of recipe why that important).
3)Once veggies are chopped mix together in large bowl.
4) Original Dressing: In a separate bowl mix in limes, eggs, mustard and curry powder, then stir well.
4 A) My Alternative Dressing Pictured Below: I have made several different dressings for this recipe, to including my last batch pictured below . I use ½ cup mustard, two limes, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1/2 tbsp chipotle powder, and 1 tbsp smoked paprika powder. I don’t use the eggs in my dressing anymore, but the original dressing recipe above is still yummy as well.
5) Next mix dressing with veggies, ensure mixture is equally spread throughout.
6) Once chicken is cooked, weigh it on a scale to ensure you have precisely 30 oz. Then dice chicken into bite size pieces.
7) Then add chicken to the veggies, ensure the mixture is even. You might have to use two bowls to make mixing a bit easier.
7) Then add your fat content to mixture, which in the original recipe is silvered almonds. I typically go back and forth between different types of nuts or just leave the nuts out and add a different fat. For instance in this last batch I left the almonds out and will put Olive Oil on each serving when portioning out to equal my fat blocks.
Okay recipe is complete, now it’s math time!! Time to figure out the blocks in each serving, this is very simple, I’m going to use this recipe as an example.
Total Blocks in Recipe:
- 32 Protein
- 32 Fat
- 8 Carbohydrates
1) Measure mixture in a measuring cup to determine total cups. For this batch is was 18 Cups.
2) How to Find Protein: Take your total protein blocks and divide by total cups ( 18/32 = 0.56).
- ½ cup = 1 Block Protein
3) How to Find Fat: Take your total fat blocks and divide by total cups ( 18/32 = 0.56).
- ½ cup = 1 Block Fat
4) How to Find Carbohydrates: Take your total carbohydrates blocks and divide by total cups ( 8/32 = 0.25).
- ½ cup = ¼ block carbohydrates
So to put this all together: A rounded 1/2 cup of Chicken Salad contains approximately 1 block of protein, 1 block of fat, and a 1/4 block of carbohydrate. Simply eat an additional 3/4 block of carbohydrates for a complete 1-block meal. If make a 2,3, or 4 block meal, just multiply by that number:
Example 4 Block Meal:
- 2 cups of chicken salad =4P 4F 1C
- 1 and ½ apples = 3C
There’s my 4 block meal of equal proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Below is a picture of this meal, the apples were very small so I went with two instead of 1 1/2.
You can create all kinds of delicious recipes like this one to make the Zone Diet easy and convenient, I have done this with a big batch of chili, made tuna salad and even put bacon in my chicken salad! Just keep track of the blocks and divide it up at the end of the recipe. I take one day out of the week to prep my zones meals, takes about two hours and then I’m done!!
The Zone Diet is amazing and has truly helped me to become balanced in regards to health and performance. For the longest time I struggled with my nutrition and felt like crap, until discovering the Zone Diet. I recommend you do your our research, read the book and give it a shot…what do you have to lose? What’s stopping you from making a change?
*** TIP ***
You’ll need a journal to track your food and water intake. You can use anything: a notepad, smart phone App, or computer document. I highly recommend the WODBook, It has everything you need: logging short term / long term goals, nutrition log, a place to log your PR’s in both lifts and the benchmark WODs. Great for us CrossFitters!!
Let me know if you have any question or feedback, would love to help or hear from you!!