I honestly never thought I’d type this sentence, but…
I’ve been exercising a lot lately.
This is shocking, mostly because I’ve never been that into exercise. I’m decently coordinated, so I was okay at sports as a kid, but I didn’t really commit to or become great at anything except karate. And that was only because I quit every other athletic activity up to that point, and when I tried to drop my sensei, my mother decided it was time she put her foot down and refuse to let me be a “quitter.” Sooooo, I was the karate kid. (If you’re not picturing a 12-year-old Serena with a Winona pixie cut and braces screaming KIAI!!!! in a white suit…now you are. You’re welcome.)
I was on the tennis team in high school, but during the other two seasons, I selected the least challenging options to fulfill my sports requirements. I remain extremely grateful that The Taft School still offered Jazzercise in 2005. Doing the grapevine to the Lizzie Maguire soundtrack was right up my alley.
Come college, I became a devoted yogi, rolling around and napping on a yoga mat once or twice a week. I also went to the gym a handful of times, once running 2 consecutive miles (I remember because I called my dad to commemorate the momentous occasion!), but I just wasn’t all that motivated to workout. Looking back, I was def carrying around several extra fun pounds and would have benefitted from more essesize, yet I couldn’t have cared less. For better or worse, I rocked all manner of revealing spandex/booby shirts and felt JLo sexy most days. Early 20s confidence was the best!
Unfortunately, the above life phases were actually high intensity compared to the last 8 years, during which I’ve basically been practicing my rigor mortis. I could make infinite excuses for my sedentary ways (There’s no time to workout! Ponytails cause hair breakage! I hate to sweat!), but really I’ve just been lazy and a few months ago, I finally decided to get my act together. First and foremost, I have terrible anxiety, and it’s a known fact that regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage a panic disorder. Plus, my primary care doctor looked like he was going to cry at my last physical when he asked how often I exercise, and I said “never” (he responded, “Jesus! Never?!! Most people at least lie about these things.”), and Logan had also expressed legitimate concern for my cardiovascular health. He really doesn’t want to have to find a new roommate should I kick it several decades early, which is fair.
So, I’ve stepped up my fitness game and have been doing a lot of hot yoga, interval training, and running as of late. Long story short: I feel great. I’m sleeping better, I’m less anxious, and I just feel strong, which is both a weird and awesome sensation.
I’m also hungry as shit. Mostly at lunchtime.
My basic avocado toast and clean-out-the-fridge veggie bowls just ain’t cutting it these days. I’ve been craving something a little more substantial midday, and I’m currently going through a serious chicken salad phase. I’ve happily resurrected some of my favorite chicken salads recently (like this and this), but I’m particularly into this Curried Chicken Salad at the moment.
This recipe is a lighter and slightly more modern twist on the retro classic, friends. The chicken is dressed in a simple and delicious curry-spiked dressing, which gets its creamy tang courtesy of nonfat Greek yogurt versus the Devil’s Condiment mayo. I could eat the chicken and dressing plain, but we all know chicken salad is really about the mix-ins, in this case: dried apricots for sweetness, roasted cashews for crunch, and scallions and cilantro for bite and freshness. (I also throw some hemp seeds in for Omega-3s and extra protein, but they’re completely optional.)
In addition to its awesome flavor, this recipe gets major bonus points for ease and versatility. I use foolproof chicken breasts in mine, and the recipe still only runs me about 40 minutes from start to finish (including chicken cooling time), but you could just as easily dice the breasts on a store-bought rotisserie bird or use leftover roasted/poached chicken (or turkey!). The apricots and cashews can easily be swapped for whatever dried fruit and nuts you like or have on hand, and the serving possibilities are endless. I’m partial to making a sandwich on toasted Ezekiel bread, but I also highly recommend lettuce wrapping your salad, piling it on toast, or crushing it atop your favorite crackers. You do you, peeps. (FYI, I put this chicken salad on top of avocado toast last week, and it was delicious insanity.)
p.s. If you have any favorite workouts or post-workout meals, let your weird blog lady know in the comments. Love me some #fitspo right now…
Greek Yogurt Curried Chicken Salad: (Serves 4)
1 pound cooked and cooled chicken breasts, diced (about 2 cups diced chicken)
3 scallions, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/3 cup diced dried apricots
1/3 cup chopped roasted cashews
1½ tablespoons hemp seeds (optional)
For the dressing:
1 cup plain nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons curry powder
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Preparing your Greek Yogurt Curried Chicken Salad:
-Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl. Taste and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. (If you like a sweeter dressing, freel free to add a tiny bit more honey.)
-Add the chicken, scallions, cilantro, leaves, apricots, cashews, and hemp seeds (if using) to the bowl with the dressing.
-Fold all of the ingredients together until well combined. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed.
-Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to up to four days.
- 1 pound cooked and cooled chicken breasts, diced (about 2 cups diced chicken)
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/3 cup diced dried apricots
- 1/3 cup chopped roasted cashews
- 1½ tablespoons hemp seeds (optional)
- 1 cup plain nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl. Taste and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. (If you like a sweeter dressing, freel free to add a tiny bit more honey.)
- Add the chicken, scallions, cilantro, leaves, apricots, cashews, and hemp seeds (if using) to the bowl with the dressing. Fold all of the ingredients together until well combined. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to up to four days.
Feel free to experiment with different types of nuts and dried fruit in this salad.