Zoe’s Kitchen is one of my favorite places to go to for a quick, healthy bite to eat. Zoe’s means “life” in Greek and I must say that my life has forever been changed since discovering Zoe’s as I have been obsessed with it ever since (I could eat it anytime of the day and still never get sick of it). I love Zoe’s so much that I have searched the internet for hours on end until I found a recipe from allrecipes.com that is similar to Zoe’s cole slaw which comes topped onto my favorite sandwich the Gruben (grilled turkey, swiss, slaw, spicy mustard, and rye: all grilled to perfection). I added to this recipe more Italian seasoning, reduced the oil, and used red wine vinegar to make it more Zoe’s-like. Since discovering this recipe, I have made this slaw as a side for shrimp boils and barbeques and am amazed how many compliments I received from it which I never can hear too often. (See my modified recipe below)
While I am constantly trying to emulate Zoe’s cooking style and recipes, here is where I must commit blasphemy: I am EXTREMELY disappointed in Zoe’s, because of their chicken salad (their most popular menu item I might add). Just to type those words make me cringe, but someone has to call out Zoe’s for the high calorie count on their chicken salad which is 700 calories for a chicken salad sandwich alone which leads me to believe that mayo is the main ingredient (and not chicken). Don’t get me wrong, their chicken salad is moist and every bit delicious, but it doesn’t necessarily fall under the “healthy” persona that Zoe’s claims to have and falls directly into the category of salads to avoid I mention in my “All Salads Are Not Created Equal” post.
It is with this knowledge of the dangers of chicken salad that I went on the hunt for a chicken salad that would satisfy my Zoe’s chicken salad cravings (lets face it, I never am truly satisfied and keep going back for more), but wouldn’t hinder my healthy-eating life style. My goal was to find a recipe with 3 main components:
- substitutes Greek yogurt for mayo
- Uses cranberries instead of raisins, because I prefer the tartness of cranberries over the sweetness of raisins
- Uses pecans (seeing them in Publix over the holidays gave me a craving for pecans as well)
The closest recipe that I found to pass my 3 requirements was Plum Pie‘s Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad, but I decided to tweak the recipe and preparation a bit for my own liking. After making and scrapping the bowl of my chicken salad, I vow to never eat mayo soaked chicken salad again. Normally sequels are never as good as the original (calling The Hangover II out), but after trying this new twist on chicken salad I can promise that the original chicken salad recipe will be long forgotten and you will want to have the new recipe on repeat (even if you aren’t as strange as me and like to eat the same thing over and over again). It is tart, tangy, sweet, moist, scrumptious, delicious, and every adjective you can think of that relates to amazing food.
Okay, so here is my challenge, try to take your favorite foods from restaurants and get creative by making them healthy at home. In my personal (and bias) opinion, Emily has out done and out shined Zoe’s.
Simply Southern’s Zoe’s Cole Slaw
- 2(8 & 1/2 oz bags) angel hair cole slaw
- green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 package Italian seasoning
- 8 oz Feta Cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup water
- Mix together cabbage, onions, and feta cheese. Whisk together remaining ingredients. While tossing cabbage mixture, lightly drizzle with dressing. Cover and chill for 15 minutes prior to serving. Store remaining dressing in air tight container in the fridge for future use.
CranApple Pecan Chicken Salad
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1/2 granny smith apple, diced into small chunks
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1.5 tablespoons shallot, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup greek yogurt, I like to use Chobani 0% Plain
- 1 tablespoons light mayo
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, fresh rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Bake chicken for 35 to 40 minutes until cooked thoroughly. Place chicken on a dish and allow to cool completely. Shred chicken once it has completely cooled.
- In a large bowl, mix together chicken, apple, pecans, cranberries, and shallots.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt, mayo, apple cider vinegar, and dried rosemary. Top chicken mixture with dressing and toss. If needed, season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for one hour.