This healthier, chicken Caesar salad is made with the same ingredients as classic recipes, but is portion-controlled with a light Caesar dressing. Enjoy it with a side of fruit or other healthy carbohydrate to make a full, balanced meal.
Every time I eat a Caesar salad, I’m reminded of Bill. Bill was one of my very first weight loss clients. He came to me with heart disease and high blood pressure and he wanted to lose weight. He had no idea about healthy eating. One appointment, well into his success, he came to me super proud of his weekly choices. For the first time, he went out to eat at a restaurant.
Bill and I had already discussed how restaurant foods are a major source of sodium and fat in the American diet. He proudly announced that he bypassed his typical chicken fingers and French fries, and ordered the grilled chicken Caesar salad instead. We celebrated his choice to order a vegetable-based meal, then talked about his hunger and satiety.
Bill was surprised at how full he felt after he ate the salad. Since it was just a salad, he assumed the it wouldn’t be enough. He asked me if it was the fiber that filled him up. I told him, probably not! Together, Bill and I looked up the nutrition facts for a traditional Caesar salad. What he learned wasn’t what he expected. The salad supplied over half of his daily calorie needs, more than 100% of his recommended daily fat intake and over 75% of his daily sodium goals.
Is Caesar Salad Healthy?
My meeting with Bill was over 20 years ago. I don’t recall the exact calories, fat and sodium in Bill’s salad, but I do remember it being 50% of his daily recommended calories needs, and close to 100% of his daily fat and sodium recommendations. That’s pretty typical for chicken Caesar salads you find on restaurant menus.
A classic Caesar salad is made with hearts of romaine, fresh Parmesan cheese, croutons and Caesar dressing. Many restaurants offer this salad as an alternative to a side garden salad. It’s filled with flavor, but if you choose it, you should be aware of the calories. Even the small side salad have enough calories to spoil your meal.
How Many Calories Are In A Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad?
In addition to a side Caesar salad, many restaurants offer a grilled chicken Caesar salad as a lunch or dinner entrée. That’s what my client Bill ordered. The calorie and fat content found in the entrée size can have a pretty big range. That’s because, the size of the salad and the dressing recipe varies from one restaurant to another.
To give a general idea, I looked up the nutrition information for a grilled chicken Caesar salad at four different common restaurants. The calories ranged from 560 to 1,050, and the fat grams ranged from between 40 and 60 grams, per salad.
The majority of calories in a Caesar salad come from the dressing. Caesar dressing is made by combining anchovies, egg yolks, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic, oil, Parmesan cheese and salt. While that combination makes for a highly flavorful dressing, it also creates one that’s higher in calories and fat.
I absolutely love Caesar dressing, so by no means am I suggesting you swap the dressing for something else. If you do, it’s no longer a Caesar salad. Instead, choose a lighter version of the dressing. There are many store-bought brands that are lower in calories and fat, and just as flavorful.
How To Make A Healthier Chicken Caesar Salad
To make this healthier Caesar salad, I used the same ingredients found in a classic version – I just watched the portions of each. I also used a bottled, lite Caesar dressing.
Prior to assembling the salad, you’ll need to cook the grilled chicken breast. I suggest grilling it, or baking it in the oven. That way, you don’t need to add any additional oil to the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, slice it and set it aside.
Make sure to clean the romaine lettuce prior to eating. To do that, pull apart each leaf, and run under cool, running water. Allow the lettuce to drain in a colander, then place it on a towel to dry.
When you’re ready to assemble the salad, chop the romaine and put it into a large bowl. Add the shaved Parmesan cheese, croutons and sliced grilled chicken. If you are using large croutons, I suggest breaking them in half before putting them in the salad. That makes it easier to eat, and allows you to include a piece of crouton with each bite of salad. Finish by drizzling with lite Caesar dressing.
Nutrition Facts For Healthier Chicken Caesar Salad
This portion-controlled, healthier chicken Caesar salad has 340 calories, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 14 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat and 34 grams of lean protein.
If you are like my client Bill, and trying to follow a heart healthy diet, you should also watch your intake of saturated fat and sodium. This healthier chicken Caesar salad has 90 milligrams of cholesterol and 780 milligrams of sodium. It also supplies 20% of the daily value for calcium, 15% of the daily value for iron and 8% of of the daily value or potassium.
This healthier chicken Caesar salad is low in carbohydrates, and may not be enough calories to fill you up. To make it a full meal, eat it with a side of fruit, a dinner roll or another favorite carbohydrate-rich food. Enjoy!
Healthier Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
- 3 cups Romaine Lettuce, chopped
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, shaved
- 8 croutons, large
- 4 oz grilled chicken
- 2 tbsp Caesar dressing, light
- Chop Romaine lettuce then put into a colander. Rinse under cool running water, then allow to dry on a towel or paper towel.
- Slice pre-cooked grilled chicken breast
- Put the lettuce in a large bowl, then top with Parmesan cheese, croutons and sliced grilled chicken. Drizzle with lite Caesar dressing.
- Recipe Makes: 1 Salad
- Serving Size: 1 salad
- Servings Per Recipe: 1
- Nutrition Facts (per 1 salad): 340 calories, 14 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 14 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 34 g protein, 780 mg sodium, 20% DV for calcium, 15% DV for iron, 8% DV for potassium
- Meal Planning Serving Sizes: 1 CHO, 4.5 PRO, 3 FAT
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