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Oklahoma Favorite Foods Made Healthier: Buffalo Wings (aka Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad)

03/17/2017

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Welcome to another entry in our “Oklahoma Favorite Foods Made Healthier” series, where we tweak some of Oklahoma’s favorite comfort foods so you can enjoy them in a guilt-free, better-for-you way. You’ll still get the great flavor that made the foods favorites in the first place, but limit the parts (like grease, lard, bad fats and refined sugar) that aren’t so healthy. Small changes like the tweaks in these recipes can eventually produce big results and will help you build momentum to establish other healthy food habits.

Who doesn't love to chow down on a plate of buffalo wings? They're practically as American as apple pie after all! But since these delicacies are deep-fried with the skin on and then covered in buffalo sauce (which is heavily laden with salt, saturated fat, butter and a surprising amount of sugar) they aren't very healthy or diet-friendly.

With a few adjustments, you can still have that classic tangy, spicy buffalo flavor in a healthier way. But first, full disclosure: this recipe is not really buffalo wings. Think of it more like deconstructed buffalo chicken in a bowl.

This recipe combines a lighter buffalo sauce with poached, shredded chicken breast and bright, crunchy veggies. Next comes the quinoa, that trendy, nutty-flavored whole grain "superfood" loaded with protein, fiber and antioxidants, topped off (of course) with a bit of reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles. This hearty meal bursts with color and flavor and we bet it will be your favorite way to enjoy buffalo chicken from now on!

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

courtesy of Alida's Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 to 10 ounces)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup broccoli florets
2 to 3 green onions chopped, whites and greens separated
Cooking spray
½ cup hot sauce (I recommend Frank's hot sauce)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Optional toppings: reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

Instructions:

Make quinoa: In a medium sauce pan, put rinsed quinoa and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff quinoa with a fork.

Poach chicken: While the quinoa is cooking, place chicken in medium pot, and add enough water to cover chicken. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer; cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let chicken stand, covered until cooked through (about 12 to 14 minutes). Remove chicken from liquid and shred with 2 forks.

While quinoa and chicken are cooking, sauté the vegetables. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Add broccoli, carrots and the whites of green onions, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until desired crisp-tenderness. Set aside.

Make the sauce: Whisk together hot sauce, oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder and salt.

Pour ¼ cup sauce over shredded chicken, tossing to coat.

To a large bowl, add quinoa, chicken and vegetables, tossing to combine (You can add remaining sauce with this step OR drizzle as desired over each individual serving).

Sprinkle with remaining chopped green onion and reduced-fat blue cheese and serve.

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