Lemon Chicken Salad, Nutrition info: yay or nay

I’m trying something new….

And I need your opinions.

I’m using a new service from Edamam that adds nutritional information to my recipes. (update: service cancelled, recipe in my own format…. never mind….)

In theory this is all good, right?

But I kind of feel like I’m exposing myself to the world.

I have two issues:

The first is the most important, of course, because, well….

It’s all about me.

I am a strong and (on occasion) vocal advocate of healthy eating.

I promote my recipes as being appropriate for a healthy diet (that’s diet in the sense of daily eating, not a regime to lose weight)..

The last recipe that I posted had about 750 calories per serving.

Since the salad, with extra vegetables, was meant to be a full dinner, 750 calories isn’t really too many.

Personally, I try for 400 calories for breakfast, 500 for lunch and 600 – 800 for dinner. Add in a glass or two of wine and that puts me at 1700 – 1900 calories per day… Perfectly appropriate for a someone my size.

If I’m very active I’ll add some extra fruit or some chocolate.

But, you argue, it’s a SALAD! Salads are supposed to be light.

Well, they are if you leave off the dressing and don’t add cheese and use chicken rather than sausages.

But, my real problem with letting the world know that my nice little salad is 750 calories is that, at least on the other side of the pond, a lot of people think they should only be eating 200 calories meals. I see it on Twitter and Facebook: ‘Only 200 calories – perfect for dinner’.

I’ve got news for you world:

  • First: you do not get adequate nutrition to support your mind and body from a 200 calorie meal.
  • Second: if you all are eating 200 calories for all of your meals there would be no obesity problem in the US (because you all would have died of starvation)

So why do I feel guilty that my salad isn’t 200 calories?

Maybe I’m not sure that people finding my recipes on Google will look past the 750 calories to actually read the recipe.

A moment for the food…. This Lemon Chicken Salad is what I decided was probably the lowest calorie salad in my repertoire:

Lemon Chicken Salad

Total time: 35 minutes


  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
  • Marinade:
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Salad:
  • lettuce – enough for 2 main course salads
  • 5oz (150gr) green beans
  • 1/2 cup (3oz, 90gr) cherry tomatoes or 1 regular tomato
  • 1/2 red, yellow or green bell pepper, 3oz (90gr)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3oz (90gr) mushrooms 
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tbs freshly snipped chives
  • 2 tbs freshly snipped basil – lemon basil would be wonderful if you have any
  • Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
  • 1 1/2 tbs honey
  • 1 1/2 tbs whole grain mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
  • 3 tbs good olive oil

Lemon Chicken Salad


  • In small bowl whisk together lemon and olive oil. Pour over chicken and marinate for 15 minutes.
  • Prepare lettuce, tear and put into a large salad bowl.
  • Top and tail beans and cut into 1 inch lengths. Fill a medium saucepan 2/3 full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add beans and blanch for 3 minutes. While the beans cook fill a large bowl or pan 3/4 full of cold water. When the beans are done, drain and dump into the cold water. Swirl around until cool then drain and set aside.
  • Cut cherry tomatoes in half or slice tomato, then cut slices in half. Cut the pepper into matchsticks. Cut the avocado, remove pit and slice.
  • Clean and thickly slice mushrooms. Take 2 tbs of the marinade from the chicken and heat in a medium nonstick skillet until sizzling. Add mushrooms and quickly stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Cook chicken breasts on barbecue grill for 10 – 15 minutes, turning once, or until done. They are done when no longer pink and juices run clear. Stick a skewer or knife in to test. Or you can sauté them in a nonstick skillet for about the same amount of time. Remove chicken and slice.
  • To assemble: Toss lettuce with some of the vinaigrette. Add remaining salad ingredients and toss gently. Taste, add more vinaigrette as needed. Serve, with any remaining vinaigrette on the side.
  • Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
  • In small bowl whisk together the honey, mustard and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in oil. It will be fairly thick – which means you have to toss well to avoid ‘over-dressing’.

Which brings me to my second issue….

This came out much higher that I expected. (Update – I just did my own calculations and the calories should be 680 per serving)

I’m questioning two things:

  • First: how accurate are their numbers and what assumptions are they making to reach them.
  • Second: how do they handle things that aren’t consumed, like marinades, egg washes, leftover vinaigrette, etc.

I will be asking the people at Edamam for the answers – as well as things like how they handle alcohol evaporation, which greatly affects the calories in a finished dish.

Finally – a note to self. Please remember that 1 tbs of olive oil has 119 calories, not 100. Important difference when ‘guesstimating’.


Assuming the information  is accurate….

What do you think?

Do people want to know real nutrition info on real food?

Or is seeing it going to scare them off?

Am I not giving people enough credit for having common sense?

Is this a good idea or a bad idea?
If you want nutrition information, try this site: Calorie Count

8 thoughts on “Lemon Chicken Salad, Nutrition info: yay or nay”

  1. Personally I like to see the nutrition info…But that being said I think they are off some on their calculations. The only things in this that has any calories (that Count ) would be the chicken-not high, the olive oil-easily counted,the honey -ditto, and the avocado and nuts…Don’t think this is 1000 -or close-.

  2. I am happy to see fat and sugar content so I can make educated and healthy decisions but I don’t count calories. All things in moderation for me.

  3. I think their calculations are off. And possibly yours are too – I’d be surprised if you used three tablespoons of oil in a dressing for two people’s salads. That would truly drench the salad in dressing. I have to admit that I only pay attention to nutritional info in recipes about dessert.

  4. Yikes – as someone who posts recipes – due to having Type 1 diabetes – and other diabetics following my “healthy eating” (we try our best right Katie?) – I tend to only be concerned about the carbs – but calories are coming more into play with me as I age – due to menopause increasing my waist line. Your recipe here, if my sponge brain serves me correctly said 70 GRAMS OF CARBS for the serving size (yikes). That would be way too much for me in a meal – even dinner – so I’d reduce the serving amount.

    I’m actually thinking that maybe Zoomie has it right – that the calculations might be off – since the ingredients in the salad post maybe higher in fat (love olives – never really thought about the fat content – stuff stuff stuff in my gob). Just still trying to wrap my head around how the heck did the program come up with such high carbs – something just seems not right.

    So, yes, if the program works correctly in calculating everything – I’m saying oui oui oui (am I impressing you with my Quebecois french?). I have to admit – still – I eat – really don’t pay attention to the calories – I just enjoy the portion I want to eat. It’s all about portion control in my little world of diabetes.

  5. While it is always interesting to see the “nutritional info,” I usually adapt recipes, so it doesn’t mean a lot to me in the first place. Also, I have an idea of what fats/sugars, etc, are in processed food.
    I usually cook food from scratch, so am more likely to add a bit more olive oil on my salad for flavor (and thus calories) than using a processed, “lite” salad dressing that is full of chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients.
    Your recipes never seem to be unhealthy and are made from real ingredients, so I’m not sure about adding the nutritional information to your already great recipes.

  6. deebar, I like seeing it, but I’m not comfortable if it’s not accurate. And I’m not comfortable if it doesn’t seem to work right.

    Kate, I don’t either – I just try for a balanced diet – and that includes wine and chocolate!

    Zoomie, you’re right…. I’m usually pretty spare with the dressing – and don’t use it all.

    Anna, I have to admit I was so surprised by the calories I didn’t check the carbs…. And, as you know, the hubs is T1 too so I’m also careful. Now I have to go back and look – I mean, avocado, nuts and honey….. And it’s all about portion control in everyone’s world – or should be ;-))

    Jennifer, Thanks for the lovely compliment… and I’m like you – always adapting and tweaking.

  7. I like to see the nutrional information if its accurate but it wouldn’t stop me from making the dish if I’m interested. I agree with Jennifer your meals never seem unhealthy but one does need to balance out their meals within a day to indulge in some foods. Portions are critcal.

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