This Salad in a Jar with Chicken webpage is the second lesson in a series. The first lesson is the Introduction to the salads in a jar, which teaches about cleaning vegetables and fruit, about non-fat salad dressings and teaches how to place the ingredients in the jars. The Lessons are organized by the kind of meat that goes best with the salad recipe but the meat can be left out of all recipes.
Prepare Chicken for Salads in a Jar by Grilling, Baking or Buying Chicken
I like to buy a large package of chicken when it goes on sale, put it in a freezer bag with marinade and then freeze it in portions needed for a meal and salads. On cooking day the chicken needs to be thawed but it’s already cleaned and marinated so it’s quick and easy!
Cut off any fat and clean the chicken. Rinse chicken in cool water. Place chicken on a cutting board and slice the chicken length-wise in half. (Picture at the left) This will give two pieces half the size of a full breast. (1/2 of a chicken breast)
It’s a good idea to prepare enough breasts to serve for dinner (to be served with other side dishes) plus add extra chicken for salads. Plan 1/2 chicken breast per person for dinner and 1/4-1/2 of a chicken breast per salad Jar.
Place cleaned chicken breasts in a quart size freezer bag.
Make the marinade recipe. Pour marinade into bag. 1/4 cup of marinade is needed for every 2 chicken breasts (4 – 1/2 breast pieces)
Massage the bag so the marinade will surround the chicken breasts. Push the air out of the bag and seal the bag. Place chicken in the refrigerator and let chicken sit in the marinade for a couple of hours or overnight.
Extra bags of chicken can be made and frozen to use at a later date. Note: When I make extra bags of chicken the marinade I like is Italian because the flavor of chicken goes with most of the salads.
Grill Chicken at Dinner Time Place breast pieces on the grill and discard bag and liquid the chicken was in. Grill chicken for about 10 minutes on each side, for a total of 20 minutes until juices run clear. I love using a George Forman Grill because the chicken doesn’t dry out. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on the George Forman Grill, turn and cook another 4 minutes. Cut the chicken in the thickest part of the meat to see if there is any pink meat inside. Once the chicken has turned white inside and the juices are clear remove chicken from the grill. Baking Chicken at Dinner Time Remove chicken from the bag and place in a baking dish. Pour remaining marinade over chicken. Bake 350 for about 20 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear. Cut the middle of the chicken breast to see if there is any pink inside of the meat. Stop cooking the chicken when it has turned white inside so it won’t dry out. After chicken is cooked, let it cool and dice or shred the cooked chicken for Salads in a Jar. When I buy chicken at $2.00 per pound, it costs about .50 cents for the chicken per salad jar.
Buy already cooked chicken for salads At the grocery store you can purchase a whole roasted chicken already cooked. Take a fork and knife and cut the chicken off the bones. Discard the skin and bones. You will get about 5 cups of chicken, 1/2 cup is needed for each salad jar so this is enough chicken to make 10 salads in a jar. Another option is to use half of the chicken in a casserole recipe for dinner and then use the other half of the chicken in 5 salads. Cooked chicken cost about $6-8 each making the chicken cost $.60-.80 cents per salad jar. Grilled chicken that is cut into strips can be purchased. These packages have about 6-8 ounces, enough to make two salads. The cost is about $1.50- $1.75 per jar.
Makes 4 quart salad in a jar meals. 526 calories per meal/jar. When this recipe is made with oil it is 776 calories per jar. This salad can also be served in a large bowl to a group of people. 4 jars make 16 side dish servings.
Teriyaki Chicken Marinade
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 TBL olive oil (optional)
Follow the directions above to clean and cut the chicken. Put the chicken breast halves in a quart sized freezer zip lock baggie. Add the teriyaki chicken marinade, working the marinade around the chicken. Remove as much air from the baggie as possible and seal the bag. The chicken can be refrigerated 2-24 hours before cooking or it can be frozen. Follow the cooking instructions above. Makes about 1 1/4 cup of marinade (enough to do 10 breasts or 20 half breast pieces)
Teriyaki Salad Dressing:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
- 3 Tablespoon sugar or Splenda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Ultra Gel (see introduction page about Ultra Gel)
Put the Ultra Gel in a small bowl. Measure 1/2 cup of water and put half of the water in the Ultra Gel and whisk until the mixture is smooth and it starts to thicken. Slowly add the rest of the water blending until smooth. Put all ingredients, including the Ultra Gel mixture in a blender and blend well. Allow the dressing to sit about 10 minutes and then mix again. Cook 8 ounce mini bowtie pasta, rinse in cold water and drain. Mix pasta in a large bowl with the salad dressing.
Layer 1: Divide salad dressing/pasta among 4-5 wide mouth jars, about 1 cup in each jar
Layer 2: 1/3-1/2 cup diced chicken (you will need about 2 cups of diced grilled or baked chicken total)
Layer 3: Garnishes can be almost anything you want: dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, frozen peas, red grapes, pineapple, green onions or purple onion diced. In my salads I put 1/2 can of mandarin oranges in each jar. I split one can of diced water chestnuts between the jars, and I use one bunch of green onions and split them among the jars
Layer 4: Fill the jar with spinach or you can use lettuce
Layer 5: Place one or two of these garnishes in a small baggie: 2 Tablespoons of Chow Mein noodles or rice noodles and 2 Tablespoon nuts (honey roasted peanuts, or cashews) Twist the baggie closed and place the baggie in the jar on top of the greens.
To serve, remove the baggie of garnishes. Dump salad on a large plate. Sprinkle garnishes from over the salad.
Quinoa is a unique grain with an earthy flavor, making it perfect for salads. Quinoa is one of the most nutritious grains you can find. Not only is it an excellent source of protein, but is also a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron and phosphorous. This Quinoa Salad in a Jar recipe has a non-fat Lime vinaigrette with a perfect blend of coriander, jalapeno and cumin. This dressing is placed in the bottom of the jar with Golden Raisins and cooked Quinoa. Salad greens and green onions are layered in the jar and then topped with a baggie of salted pistachios and Freeze Dried or Dehydrated Apricot pieces. The recipe makes 4 salad meals 535 calories each. The 4 salads can also be served in a large bowl making 16 side dish portions. This salad has been one of the favorites among participants in the classes taught at Honeyville Farms and in Enrichment classes in Salt Lake.
The printable file includes Lime Vinaigrette and Lime Chicken Marinade recipes. It includes instructions on how to prepare the chicken and the salad jars. The 7 page file also has a page with the printable jar toppers.
I buy Freeze Dried Apricots and Organic Quinoa at Honeyville. I also like to buy Quinoa from the bulk section at Winco Foods. The website link for Honeyville can be found at the bottom of this webpage.
Chicken Taco Salad
Makes 6 meals/jars 491 calories per salad jar without cheese, 601 calories with cheese Double the recipe and buy taco shells to make a meal of 12 tacos for dinner and then make 6 salads in a jar with the left over ingredients. This healthy salad doesn’t need salad dressing because Salsa is used for the dressing.
3 chicken breasts diced into bit sized pieces
1 package or recipe of Taco Seasoning Mix (recipe below)
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 ½ cup fresh or bottled salsa
1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (to cut calories purchase non-fat cheese)
1 can black olives, chopped or sliced
1 can black beans
1 bag Tortilla Strips, for topping salads
Make a Mix Taco Seasoning This is a “Make a Mix” recipe. Make several packages of the seasoning mix so you can keep extra packages on hand. Put each seasoning mix in a snack sized zip lock bag and apply a label to the bag. The labels are included on the printable file
- 1 Tablespoon dehydrated minced onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch or Ultra Gel
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon instant minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Cut chicken breasts into bit sized pieces. Place chicken pieces in frying pan and add the taco seasoning and 1/2 cup of water. Cook for about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked and the water has cooked down
To make Salads in a jar
Layer 1: 1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh or bottled salsa
Layer 2: 1/3 – 1/2 cup diced chicken that was cooked in taco seasoning
Layer 3: 1/4 cup black beans
Layer 4: Sliced black olives
Layer 5: 2 cups lettuce
In a baggie: 1/4-1/3 cup shredded cheese
In a separate bag: Crispy corn tortilla strips
I’ve always loved the Apple Gorgonzola Salad that Buca Di Beppo’s has and I wanted to put it is a Salad Jar. I spent a couple of years trying different ways to preserve the apple so they would stay good in the jar but all of my attempts either didn’t taste good or the apple turned brown. Stopping short of adding chemical preservatives, my solution ended up being to make the first salad for dinner with a Granny Smith green apple in the salad and then in the jars I use dehydrated crispy apple chips (like croutons). The Chicken Breasts made for dinner are marinated in the red wine vinaigrette and are easy to grill to perfection. Extra chicken and salad ingredients are prepared to make salads in a jar. The Jar is layered with cooked chicken, red onion, dried cranberries, Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, salad greens and then a baggie on the top has candied walnuts. There are only 391 calories in the meal because the red wine vinaigrette doesn’t have any oil. This recipe is diabetic friendly because the candied walnuts can be made with Splenda. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I have!
The printable file includes recipes for candied walnuts, the Red Wine Vinaigrette and Chicken Marinade. It includes instructions on how to prepare the chicken and the salad jars. The 7 page file has a page with the printable jar toppers.