One of my main challenges with my modified Keto Diet food plan (with carb cycling), is finding meals I truly enjoy, that are still Keto Approved. Bad, unhealthy habits die hard, y’all. One meal I’ve ALWAYS loved, was a chicken salad sandwich. In fact, let me tell you about the very FIRST one, I ever had.
I just turned 18, a couple weeks before. Bright-eyed, excited, anxious and equally timid, as I drove from my little farm of a hometown, into the big city of Columbus, Ohio. My palms sweaty from anticipation, wondering what my first college class would be like and if I would remember where each building was located, on that large, beautiful, intimidating campus. The Ohio State University. My dream school. And here I was, walking to my first class, Advanced Spanish.
I’m an hour early, so I browse the campus all-purpose store, located in an all brick building. I eye a pink sweatshirt, with OSU embroidered on it, adding it to my mental wishlist. I inhaled deeply, as I sifted through the discount books and items section, finally deciding on a small, black, blank journal. I’m STILL obsessed with journals. A half hour left until my class started, I walked back outside, as it was a warm, sunny, summer day in late September.
I noticed several large metal numbers just to the right of my class building and this little restaurant called “By The Numbers Cafè” really caught my eye. It didn’t take me long to decide to eat there for lunch. I took out my new journal and a blue ball point pen, and wrote my name in cursive, at the top, right corner of the very first page. A habit from high school, perhaps, but I felt ready to tackle this beast called college.
I had a great first class then headed straight towards the café. It was just after 11am now and the line was out the door. I waited for what seemed like an hour, glancing at the television, watching Lisa Ling intently, quietly thinking that “This girl was definitely going places in her life.” Upon reaching the front of the line, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t even glanced at the menu. Brandis! Such a boneheaded, rookie mistake. I was next in line, about to be called upon when a tall, red-head, clean shaven young man was called to the pickup section of the counter. “Chicken Salad Sandwich with an Extra Pickle on the side!” Oh my. That looks great! I’ll get THAT.
Finally, it was my turn to grab my meal, which I ordered “for here” so I could truly take in the atmosphere that surrounded me. I could eat at the bar top, glance out the window or around the café, watch the news on the television or read a book. The students and staff and faculty seemed to love this place, the vibe casual. I loved it, instantly. And the sandwich? The filling was crunchy, yet smooth. Bitter and sweet. The croissant exterior was buttery and fluffy. The lettuce was bright green, crisp and just perfect. This one sandwich started a life long love affair. It also helped me put on my freshman fifteen. But I digress.
Sitting in my Tennessean galley kitchen, a single mom of three, with my husband living in Ohio a full year before we could join him, I found myself suddenly, out of no where, really missing that chicken salad sandwich and that little café. Truly, I missed the ambience, the classes, the time in my life that I only had to worry about my grades and not my mother dying of cancer, or taking care of three children solo; one who needed so much more care and attention, than my oldest two, then 7.5, 6 and 2 years old. I snapped out of my reverie, herded my backyard chickens back into their DIY coop, gathered up all three babies and we headed to the local market. I closed my eyes and tried thinking of the ingredients that the little café used to make that beloved sandwich and I began picking up the ingredients, one at a time, to try and recreate the meal that had me feeling nostalgic.
Finally, here I am, present day, making this sandwich once more. It’s a staple in our home and such an easy meal to make. I tweaked it just a bit, to be Keto Diet Approved for me and a wonderful sandwich for my husband, who doesn’t have an issue with gluten. I sometimes miss the fresh, buttery, fluffy croissant, kettle chips and the sour pickle on the side. However, my version of this classic sandwich, hits the spot and resembles that café sandwich to a tee. With every bite, I’m transported back to my university days, where life was a little more carefree and where adulthood truly began.
Keto Friendly Chicken Salad
Crunchy, sweet, a hint of spice and a lot of yum!
- 4 Cups Shredded Chicken Breast
- 1 1/2 Cups Real Mayonnaise
- 1 Cup Celery Chopped
- 1 Cup Red Grapes Seedless + Diced
- 5 Handfuls Artisan Lettuce
- 1 (Any) Fresh ground black peppercorn spice Add as much or as little as desired
- 1 (Any) Dried Parsely Herb Optional
Please note, I made my chicken breast ahead of time in the crockpot. The calories and nutritional numbers are approximate and do not include the bread. Please adjust accordingly. You may also used canned chicken, if you’re in a hurry!
Making Your Sandwich
Make sure your chicken is thinly shredded, then add mayonnaise, folding it into your chicken, evenly.
Next, add fresh ground black peppercorn, for a kick of spice, your chopped celery and diced, sweet red grapes. On the very top, sprinkle on some dried parsley herb (optional).
Fold together gently, until fully combined. Add to toasted bread or on top of a bed of artisan lettuce. Serve immediately.
Other numbers you may be interested in:
Total Carbs: 8g
Net Carbs: 6g
Glycemic Load: 3
Enjoy, my friend.