Growing up in the Midwest, and immersed in a very homogeneous culture, I was not exposed to many new flavors, foods or meals outside the American classics like meatloaf, breaded chicken, mashed potatoes and pot pies. While I still find these childhood classics comforting and inspiring nostalgia when I think of them, they do not fit in with my style of cooking today. Cooking a meal that lacks in vegetables is just not appealing and the nutrition is seriously lacking.


I do find myself drawn to traditional meals like chili, quiche, and chicken noodle soup. I have experimented with updating them and trying to draw in more nutrition if I can. In previous Wake Up Your Palate articles, I've made quiches with a squash crust, chicken noodle soup with spinach and peas, and this week I'm going to re-invent white chicken chili. This chili is typically as white as you would imagine it would be based on the name.  


The problem with this is other than cauliflower, butter beans, garlic and onions, most food that is lacking pigment, often times is lacking nutrients especially the powerful antioxidants from the plant's natural defense system (phytonutrients). 



I went out on a limb and created a new take on a traditional family favorite and created a white chicken chili salad. I added tons of vegetables like spinach, micro bok choy, and other mixed greens for the base, topped the salad with cherry tomato 

es and added a pop of healthy fats and a little crunch with sunflower seeds. 


 Remember the article on eating the rainbow? We added so many new colors to a previously two color spectrum. Green (baby greens, chilies), red (tomatoes), orange (butter beans) and blue/purple (sunflower seeds). 



So, how did I end up replacing the iconic white sauce found in white chicken chili? Easy, a salad dressing of Greek yogurt, the green chilies found in the regular recipe, ground cumin, ground coriander and a little splash of vinegar. It's a fun weeknight salad that comforts and fills you just as well as the original but with a healthy dose of nutrition from the added veggies. 


 White Chicken Chili Salad


4 cups of mixed baby greens

1 lb. boiled chicken breast

1 tsp. cumin

Salt and Pepper to taste

cup water

1 15 oz. can of butter beans, drained and rinsed well

cup of sliced cherry tomatoes

cup of raw sunflower seeds



1 cup Greek yogurt

1 4 oz. can of green chilies

1 TBSP rice wine vinegar (or any light vinegar you have on hand)

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese



Shred the chicken and add to a small pot with the water, spice, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer, uncovered, and stir often. Continue until the water is evaporated, then add the butter beans, stir to combine, cover and remove from heat. Meanwhile, mix the Greek yogurt, vinegar, chilies, spice and feta cheese in a small bowl and keep cold until ready to use.


Assemble each salad in this order: 2 cups of mixed greens, a handful of sunflower seeds, 1 cup of chicken and bean mixture, half of the cherry tomatoes. Top with dressing to taste. Serves 2 .  


Kelly Bowlin
Kelly Bowlin
Administration Director & BAC Foodie :) 
Bay Athletic Club
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