Head south of the border as you enjoy this delicious Keto southwest chicken salad recipe!
Why It Might Not Be Keto
Chicken salad, or really any kind of salad, has a special ability to lure us into thinking it’s harmless. In the case of Keto, we really want to believe that as long as something is on a bed of lettuce it can’t possibly be bad.
Reality check: Just because it’s salad doesn’t mean it’s Keto. It also doesn’t mean it’s healthy!
That’s not to scare you away from eating salad, but many versions, particularly restaurant versions, are actually quite terrible for you!
For all the carbs you’d be getting in some restaurants, you might as well be eating a burger with a bun!
There are a few reasons for this. First, southwest salads often contain corn and black beans, two high-carb ingredients.
You also need to consider any tortilla chips that might be sprinkled on top of those greens.
Another big reason for added carbs on a chicken salad is the chicken itself. Anything breaded or fried is going to blow up the carb count.
Finally, there are probably some carbs in whatever dressing is used.
How I Made it Keto
Instead of relying on high-carb grains and beans, this salad gets color and flavor from fresh veggies.
Zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, sweet pepper, cucumber, avocado, and spicy peppers offer confetti of delight for this salad. You don’t need high-carb items bogging you down with this much flavor!
I chose grilled chicken for this salad to avoid unnecessary carbs from chicken that may have been coated in flour and fried. This goes a long way in keeping you within your macros.
Then we have the issue of dressing. Keto or not, you’re pretty much always going to have a better-for-you dressing if you make it yourself. This creamy southwest dressing is dynamite!
To make it, you’ll combine Keto mayo with finely minced shallots, garlic, lime, chives, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. It’s a tasty drizzle with none of the sugar or harmful vegetable oils.
Free Keto Meal Plan
While it may seem like your options are limited on Keto, you probably have a lot more to pick from than you think. Sometimes you’re faced with so many options, in fact, that choosing recipes to try can seem downright daunting.
I’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you with my free Keto meal plan. You’ll find a full 28 days worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner already planned out for you.
All of the meals are delicious and delightfully low-carb. Enjoy!
8 small spears (128 g) of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small zucchini (120 g), sliced
1 small yellow squash (120 g), sliced
2 cups (66 g) of shredded Romaine or Cos lettuce
1 avocado (200 g), pitted and sliced
4 sweet mini peppers (120 g), deseeded and sliced
1 small cucumber (220 g), sliced
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
4 scallions, thinly sliced, to serve
2 Tablespoons of cilantro, chopped, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lime wedges, to garnish
Blend all the dressing ingredients together until smooth, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
Season the chicken tenders with salt and pepper and brush with 1 tablespoon avocado oil. Heat a grill pan over a medium-high heat and grill the chicken tenders until fully cooked, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, let rest for a few minutes and slice. Set aside.
Add zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil; toss to coat. Grill the zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus until just tender.
Assemble the salads by layering the lettuce, chicken, grilled vegetables, and remaining ingredients into 4 salad bowls. Pour over the dressing and add cilantro and scallions if desired. Garnish with lime wedges.
The salad will keep in the fridge without the dressing for up to 2 days.
All nutritional data are estimated and based on per serving amounts.
Louise holds a Bachelors and Masters in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University (UK). She attended Columbia University for her JD and practiced law at Debevoise & Plimpton before co-founding Louise's Foods, Paleo Living Magazine, Nourishing Brands, & CoBionic. Louise has considerable research experience but enjoys creating products and articles that help move people just a little bit closer toward a healthy life they love. You can find her on Facebook or LinkedIn.