Healthy & Protein-Packed: Kickin' Buffalo Chicken + Quinoa Salad

OK - so after that last cookie post, I figured I owed you guys something healthy :)  This salad is one of my favorite go-to weekday or weeknight meals & will soon become a favorite of yours too.  It's super healthy, filling & protein-packed.  I must admit I fell in love with a similar combination of ingredients during my first experience at Protein Bar - a fantastic, health-focused little chain (locations in Chicago & D.C. so far) serving up wraps, salads, bowls & juices that are loaded with protein & flavor.  After my very first Buffalo Bar-rito I was hooked, and I soon realized I was craving those flavors at home.

In order to satisfy my cravings and give my wallet a break (the Bar-ritos can run you about $10 a pop - not bad, but it can add up quick) I began creating my own version of the Buffalo Bar-rito as a salad at home.  It's a dish that doesn't take very long - I can make it when I get home from the gym late for dinner (as I did last night) and I often make it in the mornings & take it to work for lunch.

The ingredients lend themselves to many health benefits - you get a good dose of Vitamin C from the red bell pepper (as much Vitamin C as oranges, but without all the sugar), and loads of protein & fiber from the chicken and quinoa. The spinach & carrots are packed with Vitamin A and powerful antioxidants.  If you want to top this little powerhouse with cheese, I like fat-free Feta - but some crumbled bleu would also be a tasty choice.  The only thing to watch here is the amount of hot sauce you use - I tend to douse my salad with it, in addition to mixing it with the chicken.  Although hot sauce is fat, calorie & carb-free, the sodium content is on the higher side so keep that in mind.

The recipe amount below is for a large single serving - so double it if you're feeding more than just you - or triple it if you're feeding a crew - this salad is always a hit!

Finished Product

Start with the chicken | Steam away

Add the sauce



Vibrant | Vitamins

Start with the spinach 

Add the quinoa

Pile on the veggies

Add the chicken

Top with Feta

Kickin' Buffalo Chicken & Quinoa Salad


- 1 cup packed baby spinach (or any salad mix you prefer)
- 1 chicken breast (will cook & dice)
- 1/4 c dry quinoa (will cook in 3/4 c water)
- diced red bell pepper (as much as you prefer to add)
- shredded carrots (as much as you prefer to add)
- fat-free Feta cheese (I only use 1-2 tblsp crumbled)
- Hot sauce - your choice (my favorite is always Cholula original)
- ground black pepper for topping


Cook chicken breast until no longer pink inside & juices run clear.  I like to thaw a frozen chicken breast, cut it up & then cook it on the stove top.  I add about a 1/2" of water to a skillet & sort of "steam-cook" the chicken instead of using oil.  This takes about 8-10 mins over medium heat for 1 diced chicken breast, and is a much healthier way to cook the chicken.

Once chicken is cooked, combine in a small bowl with 2 tsp hot sauce - stir until coated.

Soak quinoa for a few minutes in water, then drain & cook per package directions.  Let cool a bit before adding to the salad.

Dice pepper & carrots to your liking.  I prefer smaller veggies so after I cut them up I put them in my Pampered Chef chopper & diced them pretty small.

Assemble Salad:
Layer spinach in the bottom of a large salad bowl.  Add quinoa, then veggies, then chicken & top with feta & ground black pepper.  I also top with extra hot sauce because I'm an addict ;)  Enjoy!

Post Title : Healthy & Protein-Packed: Kickin' Buffalo Chicken + Quinoa Salad

Healthy & Protein-Packed: Kickin' Buffalo Chicken + Quinoa Salad,

Healthy & Protein-Packed: Kickin' Buffalo Chicken + Quinoa Salad


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