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  • Brianna Rhodes, RD, CD

Southwest Chicken Salad

Try this tasty Southwest Chicken Salad for a quick, easy and colorful dinner tonight! Stir up your chicken, beans, peppers, tomatoes and corn in a guacamole and yogurt sauce, and you’ve got a deliciously unique salad.

It’s the middle of summer, and heating up the kitchen with a hot cooked meal is a definite downer in July. This meal is savory and filling, but easy and cool. And it’s so colorful! Your family will love it!

For this meal, you’ll need cooked chicken. You can either dice and cook a few chicken breasts (this can be done ahead of time) or you can try canned chicken if you are really in a time crunch. Either way, once you have your chicken prepared, it’s just a matter of chopping veggies, and stirring in the sauce. The yogurt sauce is ½ guacamole, ½ plain yogurt and some seasonings. The guacamole gives it a slightly greenish tint, but the flavor is awesome!

Serve it with flat bread like I did, or you could use tortilla chips to scoop it up. You could also serve it as a lettuce wrap and skip the tortillas/chips altogether. Whichever way you choose, it’s sure to be a great meal.

This meal is not spicy—unless you use a spicy guacamole. That means it’s kid friendly. Because it was a new item, I dished my kids plates up with a little prepared chicken salad and a little plain chicken and beans too. It's always a good idea to pair new foods with familiar foods too.

I hope you've noticed I put a lot of emphasis on family meals. That's because they are so important! I want to share a few secrets to making meal times pleasant for your whole family!

When it comes to dinner time, we have two family rules:

1. Take at least one bite of everything on your plate.

2. Eat enough at meal time to be full until the next meal or snack.

The first rule encourages them to taste new things. I make it a point to talk about how tastes change, so even if they didn’t like it the first time, they need to give it another chance, because you might like it this time. Research has shown that young kids often need more than 20 exposures to a new food before they readily accept it. So don’t give up if your kid rejects something over and over! Just give it time.

Rule number two is a little tricky, but it works if applied consistently. The key here is to expect them to be responsible for knowing if they are full or not. If they don’t eat enough at the meal, then they have to suffer the natural consequence of being hungry until the next meal or snack. They can’t just fill up on granola bars and chips in the pantry. Have regular structured meals and snacks throughout the day, so if they get it wrong at meal time, they feel it, but don’t have to wait an unreasonable amount of time before getting to eat again.

My two rules are based on what I’ve learned from Ellyn Satter’s “Division of Responsibility”. It’s the parent’s job to decide what the meal is, and it’s the kid’s job to decide how much or even if they will eat. Following the Division of Responsibility completely eliminates any dinner-time power struggles. It keeps meal time pleasant family time—it’s such an important part of re-connecting after long days of school and work!

Instead of a food fight, the kids get to explore new tastes and enjoy their meal pressure-free. Parents also get to relax—once you’ve gotten a healthy meal to the table, you’ve done your part! Now enjoy your own meal and let your kids take responsibility for their own eating. It’s incredible how open they are to new things when you remove the pressure. I’ve even tried this with neighbor kids, and it works magically!

The other day we had a neighbor friend join us for dinner. Our meal was something she’d never seen or tried before. She loudly proclaimed “I’m not going to eat that!” I told her in a calm, matter-of-fact tone, “That’s ok. You don’t have to. Maybe you could just taste it and see what you think. But you don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it”. Although a little skeptical at first, she did taste it, and ended up thinking it was pretty good. I consider that a win!

The Meal:

  • 1 cup Southwest Chicken Salad

  • ¼ of a medium sized avocado

  • ½ flatbread

  • 1 mango

Recipe Used in this meal:


Southwest Chicken Salad

Serving size: 1 cup

Servings per Recipe: 7


  • 2 large chicken breasts (approx. 2 lbs)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 roma tomatoes

  • 2 bell peppers

  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans

  • 1 cup frozen corn

  • ½ cup plain whole milk yogurt

  • ½ cup guacamole

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ½ tsp onion powder


  1. Dice the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Salt and pepper to taste, then cook in a skillet on med-high heat. Cook thoroughly, remove from heat and place in a large bowl.

  2. Wash and chop tomatoes and peppers, then place in the large bowl with the chicken. Drain and rinse the black beans, then add to the bowl.

  3. Cook corn in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, then add to the bowl.

  4. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, guacamole, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder. Blend well, then pour over the chicken and vegetable mixture.

  5. Toss to coat. Serve immediately, or serve chilled.


Nutrition Facts Label for Entire Meal:

Nutrition Facts Label for Southwest Chicken Salad:

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