Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cafe Rio Chicken Salad -- MY WAY!

I went to school in Logan, Utah at Utah State University and I, easily, got a Cafe Rio Chicken Salad once every other week. I LOVED them! Seriously, so delish. I love these salads SO much that it was a selling point to work in Anaheim,California because there was a Cafe Rio about 15 min. from where I'd working/living. There isn't a Cafe Rio in Oregon... big sad face! Upon moving to Oregon for the summer, I stopped eating out. I haven't eaten out for about a month now... mostly in an attempt to save money before moving to California and to help with eating more healthy. I was surfing the internet the other night and came across a recipe... for Cafe Rio's Chicken Salad!!!! Mind. Lost. SO HAPPY! I'm attempting the recipe today, so we'll see how it turns out! I'm not doing the exact Cafe Rio salad because it's super calorically intense, so I'm doing my own spin on it. I'll give you the recipes then explain how I'm preparing it in my own way!

Cafe Rio Chicken
5 lbs chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 sm bottle (8oz) zesty italian dressing
1 T chili powder
1 T Cumin
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Put ingredients in a slow cooker on HIGH for 6 hours
Shred the chicken the last hour

Creamy Cilantro Ranch Dressing
1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch Mix ( NOT buttermilk)
1 C. mayonnaise
1 C. buttermilk
2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C. fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno (I do NOT like it spicy so I removed the seeds,
keep the seeds if you like spicy)
Mix all ingredients together in a blender.

The original Cafe Rio salad is assembled in the following order: Tortilla, cheese, black or pinto beans, lime rice, shredded chicken or pork, red and green leaf lettuce (shredded), sprinkle crunch corn strips on top, grated Parmesan cheese. Then add sides of pico de gallo, guacamole, fresh cilantro, fresh lime slice, and then dressing. According to the MyFitnessPal website that = 960 calories all together..... WOW. BTW when I ate this salad, I usually cut it in 1/2 or even 1/3 and ate it over the span of 2-3 days -- eat the things you want... again, just in moderation! Plan ahead and plan accordingly. I always got the salad to go and when I got home I would divide it up, put some on my plate, and place the remainder in the fridge so that it wasn't a temptation to keep eating. Plus, then I could savor the deliciousness over time!

This is how I assembled my salad... I used one of La Tortilla Factory's Smart and Delicious Low Carb High Fiber Tortillas (80 cal, 6 net carbs, 8 protein!), 1 oz low fat shredded cheddar cheese, (45 cal), 1/4 cup pinto beans (60 cal), 2 oz shredded chicken breast (90 cals, 8 prot), lots of lettuce, some fresh salsa, fresh lime slice, and then the dressing (I'm guessing about 100 cals, could be wrong, don't quote me) -- When I made the dressing, I didn't add the mayonnaise for two reasons; 1st it's a freaking calorie kick in the pants and I didn't want that; and 2nd Rachel HATES mayonnaise, like the child will Vom if she finds out it's in anything she eats. Literally. She is such a drama queen (I actually think it's a vile substance, as well, but it's more fun to make fun of her). Then my salad was complete! My version of Rio's salad calorie total = 375 calories-ish... again don't quote me.

That's a hell of a lot better than the original salad and just as tasty!!!! Actually MORE tasty! Seriously, so good. I ended up skipping the tortilla because the salad was AMAZING without it, so I just had extra... I decided I wanted more lettuce and
chicken as opposed to a single tortilla. Chuby tried the tortilla and thought it was amazing though, so you won't be sorry trying them! This variation is something I could easily whip up for lunch or dinner and isn't going to kill me or my weightloss goals, especially if I plan accordingly. The recipe calls for 5lbs of chicken breast which makes A LOT of shredded chicken! So I froze the majority of it in several little sandwich baggies so that I could put them in the fridge the night before and let it thaw the day before I want it. I'm really big on planning my meals out! I'll do a whole other post on planning meals ahead, but I thought this would be a useful tip for this recipe seeing as it's A LOT of chicken and I'd hate for the amazingness to go to waste! Definitely worth trying!!!

I hope you enjoy!

What kinds of variations do you do to your favorite recipes/meals to make them less calorically intense? What are the foods that you're OK with splurging on every now and then?


  1. It was sooo good! Love that we have so much extra. I'm thinking it'll be my lunch tomorrow... and dinner.

  2. I am so happy you posted this I was laying on the couch complaining to Chris about how much I really really want to cafe rio salad and that i was going to drive the 10 hours to Logan tommorrow to get one..but I didnt and now I will make this one tonight!!!

  3. Whip, this is so funny because I just got back from the grocery store getting the ingredients to make the creamy tomatillo dressing. You recipe looks soooo good!!!

  4. I'm so serious when I say this... I really don't think I'll ever need to go to rio again. I am in LOVE with this recipe of my own!!! I hope you ladies enjoy it! Let me know what you think :)

  5. Yum, I made tha sauce last week. Heather do you have a good blender... you should totally invest in one for Disney :)