HARVEST CHICKEN SALAD & CIDER VINAIGRETTE (WHOLE30)
This Whole30 Harvest Chicken Salad brings fall flavors together in a fresh and nutritious way! I love the combo of massaged kale, crisp sweet apple, crunchy pecans, and zesty cider vinaigrette. I topped mine with juicy chicken, but you can use leftover turkey too! This salad is Whole30-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo! I could literally eat this everyday.
You might also like my Southwest Steak Salad ;)
Did you know? Kale is high in fiber, protein (3g per 33kcal), vitamins A, C, and K, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and folate, which is important for preventing birth defects.
How to prepare chicken
For this recipe, you can use boneless skinless breasts or tenderloins. I seasoned my chicken with lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and oregano before cooking. I then cooked the seasoned chicken in a copper skillet with avocado oil cooking spray (adds a nice butter flavor) over medium-high heat, 4-6 minutes per side, until cooked through and lightly browned in spots.
Understanding chicken labels
I always try to buy free-range and antibiotic-free chicken, or better yet, organic and animal welfare approved! Both “organic” and “free range” labels require that the chickens had some access to the outdoors. Likewise, the labels “organic” and “no antibiotics ever” guarantee that no antibiotics were used (it also means the chickens were not kept with other sick or diseased birds).
In addition, “organic” chicken must be fed organic, vegetarian feed (not other chicken parts). “Animal welfare approved” means the chickens were allowed daytime foraging in pasture, and given exposure to natural light and fresh air (more info here).
Sweet potato preparation & substitutions
For the sweet potatoes, I first peeled and cut them into bite-sized chunks, then seasoned with salt and garlic powder. Finally, I baked them with avocado oil cooking spray at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, until browned on the edges. There is something so delightful about caramelized sweet potato!
Of course, you can omit the sweet potato for a lower carb version, or use butternut squash or delicata squash instead (both of which are lower in carbs).
Of course, this wouldn’t be a harvest salad without apples and pecans! However, pears and walnuts would be scrumptious too. Feel free to use grapes, almonds, or other fruit and nuts too.
For the salad base, I used kale (spinach or mixed greens would work too!). I first removed the stems, then massage the kale gently until somewhat wilted. You want to squeeze the kale leaves just enough to turn them a slightly more vibrant green. Massaging makes the kale more tender and less bitter.
Kale stands up really well for meal prep! You can even add the dressing over top and keep salads in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Making the vinaigrette
Here’s the printable recipe for this Whole30 Harvest Chicken Salad! I hope you’ll rate and/or comment below if you try it 🙂
Created in collaboration with TransformNation.
This post contains affiliate links.
Harvest Chicken Salad & Cider Vinaigrette (Whole30)
This Whole30 Harvest Chicken Salad has tart apples, caramelized sweet potatoes, crunchy pecans, massaged kale, and red onion, topped with a zesty cider vinaigrette. This salad is gluten-free, dairy-free, and meal prep friendly!
24 oz. raw chicken breast sliced thin
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (optional)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
24 oz. raw sweet potato peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks*
6 cups kale* tough stems removed
3 cups apple* chopped
6 tbsp. pecans* chopped
6 tbsp. red onion, sliced thin (optional)
1/4 cup orange juice (or apple juice)
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. minced garlic (or 3/8 tsp. garlic powder)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Lemon thyme chicken:
*See blog post above for notes and substitutions.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange sweet potato chunks on a baking sheet, season with garlic powder and salt, then lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake for 30-40 minutes until easily pierced with a fork and browned in spots.
Meanwhile, season chicken breasts with lemon juice, zest, garlic, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper (optional, but recommended). Let sit for 20 minutes while sweet potatoes cook.
Combine ingredients for cider dressing in a mason jar or other sealed container and shake to combine. Set aside.
Gently “massage” kale in a large mixing bowl until slightly wilted. Remove any thick stems.
Chop washed apples, chop pecans, and thinly slice onion.
In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook seasoned chicken 5-6 minutes per side until cooked through. Set aside on a plate.
Once timer goes off, remove sweet potatoes from oven and let cool.
For a family meal, divide ingredients evenly into 3-6 salads (depending on family size), then save any leftovers for lunch the next day.
For meal prep, add 1 cup kale to each of six meal prep containers, then top each with 3 ounces of cooked chicken breast (will weigh less after cooking), 3 ounces of cooled sweet potato chunks, 1/2 cup chopped apple, 1 tbsp. pecans, 1 tbsp. red onion, and 2 tbsp. dressing. Seal containers and keep in the fridge until ready to enjoy. Will keep in fridge up to 5 days.
Calories (per salad, with dressing, including optionals): 397kcal, Fat: 15.1g, Sat fat: 2.1g, Carbs: 37g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 13g, Protein: 30g, Sodium: 439mg
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