I won’t lie, I love a good Cranberry Walnut Chicken salad! There is something about the combination of the sweetness of the craisins, the salty crunch from the walnuts, combined with chicken for a true taste of summer. Last summer that was by go to at the ballpark, instead of the burgers, brats or hot dogs! I probably ate it twice a week!
I am always looking for healthier options for chicken salad, but sometimes you just need to change things up.
This time, the tweeks to the recipe weren’t just in the ingredients in the dressing, but in the base for the salad… swapping out the chicken!
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are a very versatile and healthy bean! Low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol and sodium, garbanzo beans contain high amounts of folate (71 percent of the daily value) and manganese (84 percent), which may make the amounts of the other nutrients look a little ineffective. But they’re not! You get 29 percent each of the protein and copper you need, 28 percent of the phosphorus, 26 percent of the iron, and 20 percent of the magnesium. The fiber, thiamin, zinc and vitamin B6 are in healthy supply as well. It’s a perfect combination and one way to work toward optimum health. Whether canned or cooked from scratch, you get similar nutrients.
One of the most intriguing reports regarding garbanzo bean consumption was that people seemed to have less need to snack on other things on days when they’d included these in their diet. Part of it is the fiber. Two cups of garbanzos supply the daily requirement, and lower your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides – fats/lipids in your blood that can increase your heart disease risk – and help regulate blood sugar levels.
When it comes to chickpeas, most people think hummus or tossed on top of a salad. But there are so many other uses for chickpeas! Try roasting them with a little seasoning for a crunchy snack!
Today, we are using them as a base for our salad, instead of chicken – no cooking needed (if using canned chickpeas!) and lunch can be ready in 5 minutes!
- 3 cups cooked or 2 cans (15oz) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup organic fresh cranberries (you can use dried ones, but that will add more sugar)
- 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup scallions (green onions), thinly sliced, white & green parts
- mineral salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon each)
- 6 tablespoons (1/3 cup) your favorite mayo (or tahini)
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) champagne, white wine or cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water (onlyif using tahini)
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- leafy lettuce of choice
- bread of
Start by mixing your dressing. In a small bowl combine mayo/tahini, vinegar, water
and maple syrup. Set aside so the flavors come together. This can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Add a tad more water, or vinegar if you’re a vinegar lover, to thin out dressing as desired. If using vegan mayo, you may like to add 2 more tablespoons. (this would also make a great dressing for many other things!)
In a medium to large bowl, add your garbanzo beans and roughly mash with a strong fork or potato masher. Add in celery, cranberries, nuts, scallions, salt, pepper and dressing, mix well. Serve at room temp or let chill in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.
Serve on your favorite bread as a closed or open faced sandwich, or on a bed of leafy greens. You may even opt to simply enjoy the salad as is.
Serves 6 – 8. 1 serving = 1/2 cup
Add extra of anything you like, and vice versa, if you’re not keen on an ingredient use less or omit! One particular ingredient may be the vinegar. I’m not much of a vinegar fan but I loved the playing with different champagne vinegars!
Change up the walnuts, using pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc. If using sunflower seeds, use half the amount called for.
With spring and summer right around the corner, this will be making a regular appearance in my weekly food prep!
If you give any of these recipes, let me know! I’d love to hear what you think!
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