Fresh, crunchy, sweet and savory. This Whole30 Asian Chicken Salad is dreamy and totally satisfying. With cashews, almond butter dressing, mandarin oranges and crunchy bell peppers there is something for everyone. This recipe is gluten free, paleo and Whole30 complaint.
This nutrient packed salad is the perfect way to get your veggies in. All the textures and flavor combinations in this salad will win over almost anyone. Even those people who buy greens with good intentions and let them rot in the bottom of the fridge like some sick ceremonial sacrifice to the healthy eating God's. You know who you are.
What Makes This Recipe Healthy?
Oh my gosh, there are so many good things about this recipe! This meal is a powerhouse.
I am always hounding people to get more protein. This recipe has 56 grams of protein per serving! Getting adequate protein can support a desirable body composition, prevent lean muscle loss with aging, help to control appetite and support performance goals.
How much protein should I eat? Most healthy individuals can aim for 1 gram per pound of lean body weight for optimal health.
This recipe is loaded with micronutrients from the variety of vegetables used! We have cabbage, carrots, bell peppers and green onions. This recipe is high in beta carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium!
While added fiber can cause digestive issues (think fiber bars), naturally occurring fiber serves as a prebiotic for good bacteria and supports healthy digestion in most people. This recipe contains 8 grams of fiber, about ⅓ of your daily needs.
I will note, while fiber is beneficial to most people, people with IBD and FODMAP intolerance may benefit from avoiding certain fiber types.
For The Chicken:
- Avocado oil - Any neutral flavored cooking oil can be used, but if following a Whole30 diet you will need to use coconut oil (refined for a neutral flavor), sesame oil, avocado oil or olive oil.
- Chicken breast tenderloins - Chicken breast tenderloin are super easy to chop into bite size pieces, but whole chicken breast can be used as well.
- Salt - Salt to taste. I like a decent amount of salt on meat, so I will usually do equal parts pepper and salt.
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
For The Dressing:
- Coconut aminos - I don't recommend using soy sauce in this recipe in place of coconut aminos because the flavor will be less sweet and more salty. If you have to replace with soy sauce please adjust the amount used to taste.
- Sesame oil - Sesame oil adds a nice toasty flavor to the dressing. You could sub a little avocado oil in lieu of sesame oil, but the flavor will be a little different.
- Ginger paste - About a ½ inch piece of fresh ginger can be used instead of ginger paste.
- Minced garlic
- Chili paste - Chili paste adds a kick of spice and can absolutely be omitted.
- Almond butter - For best results (and to keep this recipe Whole30 complaint) unsweetened almond butter should be used. Peanut butter can be substituted for a non-paleo option. For a nut-free alternative sunflower seed butter or tahini would work in this recipe.
- Apple cider vinegar - Lime juice or rice wine vinegar can be substituted. Keep in mind that rice vinegar is not considered Whole30 complaint.
For The Salad:
- Coleslaw mix - If you are chopping your own instead of using packaged coleslaw mix, you will need to shred about 2 heaped cups of cabbage (a mix of green and purple) and about ¼ cup of shredded carrots.
- Green onions
- Cashews or sliced almonds - I usually buy them raw and toast them quickly in a pan with a touch of oil over low-medium heat. This allows me to avoid vegetables oils that are usually used in roasted nuts.
- Mandarin oranges - Make sure they are juice packed and not pack in syrup.
- Red bell pepper
- Black sesame seeds - This is optional but adds a nice toasty flavor and a little contrast to the aesthetics of the salad.
Meal Prepping This Recipe
This Whole30 Asian Chicken Salad makes a great healthy meal prep solution! To do so, combine the cabbage, green onions and bell peppers in a container. Keep the chicken and mandarin oranges separate, this will protect your precious crunch. Add the dressing and cashews right before servings!
Who doesn't love crispy chicken on a salad! Try these Paleo Chicken Nuggets. They make a great salad topper if you are craving crispy chicken but want a healthier option!
If you prefer a sweet dressing, try adding 1-2 tbsp. of maple or date syrup to the dressing recipe. The sweet and savory flavors together are awesome!
Nuts & Nut Butters
You can try using cashew butter or peanut butter (for non-paleo) in the dressing recipe! Sunflower seed butter will also work for those with nut allergies. And, to top the salad, you can use roasted slivered almonds, peanuts or pepitas if you don't have cashews on hand.
The purpose of the nuts is to supply a nice crunch and some nutty flavor, while the nut butter in the dressing makes it creamy and savory. Feel free to sub in what you have on hand! I would avoid sweetened and flavored nut butters, and walnuts/pecans because the flavor profile is a little different.
We all need more 20-minute meals in our lives. In this recipe we utilize coleslaw mix to save some time on prep. All other veggies can be chopped while the chicken cooks! Mix up the dressing and throw it all together and you will have dinner on the table before you know it!
- Buy an extra drippy almond butter (like Trader Joe's Raw Almond Butter - My fave!). If your almond butter is "stiff" you'll have more difficulty getting it to mix well when making the dressing. You can also warm the jar of almond butter in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes before using to make it softer.
- Combine all ingredients right before serving to maintain that satisfying crunch!
Feel free to leave a comment and a rating below. Feedback is always appreciated! 😊
Whole30 Asian Chicken Salad
- Frying pan
- Cutting board
- 10 oz Package of coleslaw mix
- 2 Green onions
- 2 tbsp Cashews or sliced almonds Roasted
- ½ cup Canned mandarin oranges Juice packed, drained
- 1 Red bell pepper
- Black sesame seeds Optional
- Heat avocado oil in large frying pan over medium heat.
- Cut chicken tenderloins in to 1 inch pieces removing any large, visible pieces of tendon if you can. Add pepper and salt to taste then add to pan. Flip chicken as it begins to brown. Allow it to cook on all sides until there is no more pink.
- While chicken cooks, whisk together ingredients for the dressing and set aside. If your almond butter is firm, you may want to heat it for 15-30 seconds in the microwave to help it mix smoothly in the dressing.
- Finely chop the green onions and thinly slice the bell pepper removing the stem and seeds.
- In a large bowl, toss the coleslaw mix in the dressing (be sure to use 10 oz. of coleslaw mix to ensure you have enough dressing, some packages are 16 oz.). Add chicken, bell peppers and mandarins and mix together.
- Top salad with green onions, cashews and sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy!