Warm Pasta Salad with Chicken, Spinach, Squash and Basil; a wee rant on diets

This time of year, with the potager in transition, we have a lot of combination dishes.

Chard with spinach; spinach with squash, chard with squash…. All of them together….

It's a good thing we like vegetables.

And I feel so very virtuous out gathering our food for dinner…. (said tongue in cheek – see rant on Paleo Diet below)

Warm Pasta Salad with Chicken, Spinach, Squash and Basil

Preparation and cooking time:   30 minutes


  • 1 1/4 cups pasta
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small yellow squash (courgette)
  • 4oz (120gr) fresh spinach
  • 4 tbs fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1oz, 30gr)  shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Marinade
  • 1 tbs white Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Dressing
  • 2 tbs white Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs Dijon-style mustard
  • 4 tbs Greek yogurt

Pasta Salad with Chicken, Spinach, Squash and Basil


  • Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain.
  • Chicken:  Make marinade and spoon over chicken.  Let marinate for 10 minutes.
  • Cook on barbecue grill for 8 – 10 minutes per side, turning once, or until done. 
  • Remove and let rest 5 minutes. 
  • Slice.
  • Vegetables: Roughly chop onion. 
  • Mince garlic.
  • Cut squash in half lengthwise, then slice. 
  • Tear spinach and basil
  • Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add onion, garlic, squash and sauté until tender. 
  • Dressing:  Mix all ingredients for dressing.
  • Add dressing to vegetables in skillet
  • To finish:  Put pasta into a large serving bowl, add vegetables from skillet, spinach and basil, stir to combine. 
  • Add chicken and stir gently.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Warning:  Strong, personal opinions to follow (Rant). Read at your own risk.

I got an email the other day offering me a discount on a book or site or whatever on the Paleo Diet.

First…. Why these people assumed I needed to lose weight escapes me.  There is nothing in my blogs, sites, general browsing that suggests I am the least bit interested in diets. I don't need to lose weight.  I did that two years ago and, fortunately for me, it did not find me again.

Second…. I don't believe in diets.  Regardless of what diet one follows, whether it targets fats, carbs or proteins, it all comes down to eating fewer calories, even if the person following the diet doesn't realize it.   Calories and weight have a very tight relationship.  Eat 3500 calories more than you need and you gain a pound; eat 3500 less than you need and you lose a pound.  (Yes, I over-simplified it, but I'm not in a position to get into metabolic rates, activity and so on…. Regardless, the math is still true).

Back to the Paleo Diet.  

Really – this is the best one I've heard in a long time.

The Diet says: Humans living in the Paleolithic era were leaner and stronger than humans today.

I say:  Of course they were – they were hunter / gatherers.  They spent all day, every day trying to find enough food to sustain their meager existence. They didn't sit around, they ran around.  If they weren't strong enough to do this, they died.  Meager existence means no take-out, no ordering in while they relaxed after a quiet day picking berries.

Diet: They didn't suffer from heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

Me: They didn't live long enough.  Their life expectancy was 35 years for men, 30 years for women.  And don't forget, along with all their hunting and gathering they had to do the odd bit of running and climbing.  They were prey, after all… Part of the food chain. If they did succumb to a disease, they died and were eaten, not leaving much left for our modern experts to determine cause of death.

Diet: Major contributors to obesity are processed foods, sugar and alcohol.

Me: Agree.  But don't forget lack of exercise. 

Diet: Evolution says that the Paleo diet is what humans are genetically programmed for.

Me: If that is true then evolution would also say that a very active hunting / gathering lifestyle is also what humans are genetically programmed for…. Can't have one without the other.

Somehow, I think eating too much of a Paleo diet while playing video games and watching TV isn't going to accomplish much.

Other than making a tidy profit for the proponents of the Paleo Diet.

According to Wiki: in 2011 a panel of experts rated the Paleo Diet 20th out of 20…. 

In 2012 it was ranked 24th out of 24.

'nuf said.

8 thoughts on “Warm Pasta Salad with Chicken, Spinach, Squash and Basil; a wee rant on diets”

  1. ‘nut said.
    Fill my plate please: Warm Pasta Salad with Chicken, Spinach, Squash and Basil
    All that grows in my back yard is the basil … and it’s a little stunted from so much heat.

  2. And, of course, we have evolved since paleo times to eat foods more like what’s available now. While I agree with the paleo believers that our grains and veggies are different now than they were back then (selectively bred for more starch/sugars), we also have changed to use them more or less efficiently. There are several holes like that in the paleo logic.
    I’m too old to give up stuff and I like it all too much, besides; I’m just working on eating less and exercising more.

  3. Katie – I agree. I also agree with Zoomie. My understanding of Paleo is you must include a very good exercise routine to get the best benefit. But to give up pasta, legumes, french fingerling potatoes? It will never happen in my world! It is all about balance. Having said that, I do know I love food too much and could probably use a little more balance. Nuff said! 🙂

  4. Tanna, are we talking Texas heat? Or Midwest heat? Or is there a difference? LOL
    Zoomie, and that is the key – less food / more exercise… or the same amount of food and even more exercise LOL
    Ina, as I said I don’t believe in any diets – only in healthy eating and balance.
    manningroad, absolutely!

  5. I picked up a Paleo magazine to peruse while waiting in line at the grocery store the other day. The first thing that caught my eye in the letters to the editor section were two letters from paleo dieters asking why they gained weight after adopting their new eating lifestyle. Hmmmmm … why indeed?

  6. The Paleo Diet? (Excuse me for a moment… Hahaahahahahahahahahahaaha) I’m happy to say that until now I’d never heard of it. I’m going to pretend that I’ve still never heard of it.
    I love the sound of your warm pasta salad. I plan to remember it.

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