Main Dishes

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

How many posts have I started with, “I’m so excited to share this with you!”? I think that’s okay though because I only ever share recipes here that I think you NEED in your life so it makes sense for me to always be excited! These Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches have me really excited for several reasons, but mostly because the chicken salad is just damn delicious! Now, as many of you know, I am mayonnaise obsessed. At least half of you are probably cringing right now (I know Matt is!), but I’ve just always been hooked. Mayonnaise and healthy don’t exactly go together so I challenged myself to make a mayo-free chicken salad that wouldn’t make me miss the mayo at all. Well, as mayo-free as possible – I did throw in just one little tablespoon of mayo (which is less than a teaspoon per serving). Sorry, I can’t help it!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

I was completely prepared to hate this chicken salad. I thought with subbing in plain Greek yogurt that would be all I would taste and that it would be okay, but not a solid substitute for the classic. I was so wrong and I’m so excited about it! I didn’t miss all the mayo one bit! The apple cider vinegar, Dijon, parsley and scallions give this chicken salad so much flavor and the crunch from the apple and the almonds keeps it from being anything but boring.

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another reason this chicken salad has so much flavor packed in is that I used grilled chicken. I love grilling chicken in the summertime and this sandwich is the perfect reason to throw a few extra chicken breasts on your grill. Matt hates chicken salad because he doesn’t like mayo and even he was chowing down on these!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken salad tastes great on its own or on a green salad, but my favorite way to eat it is as these Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches. I love using locally baked sourdough bread as a healthier option. I am allergic to oats and most multigrain breads have rolled oats, oat flour or oat fiber in them. Although sourdough is similar to white bread in terms of calories and carbs, it is usually made with no sweeteners or oils, doesn’t require extra preservatives and is higher in protein. A lot of people also find it much easier to digest due to the lactic acid present as a result of the baking process. I also love how it’s soft and chewy with a bit of a tanginess to it. It holds up really well to this chicken salad and tastes so good with a little bit of fresh arugula for some added green veggies. I hope you enjoy this one! If you try a recipe, don’t forget to let me know how it was in the comments – I love hearing from you all!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken salad
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, grilled, about 2.5 cups cooked
  • ½ cup diced apple
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions
  • ⅓ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
for the sandwich
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Carrot and red pepper slices for serving, optional
Directions
for the chicken salad
  1. Dice the chicken. Toss in a medium mixing bowl with the diced apple, chopped almonds and sliced scallions. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, Dijon, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir well to combine.
for the sandwich
  1. Put the sourdough bread on 4 plates or in 4 meal prep containers. Divide the arugula between the 4 slices of bread. Top with the chicken salad, dividing between the 4 slices of arugula topped bread. Add carrot and red pepper slices to container, if using.

 

Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers

Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers  |  Lemon & Mocha

I cannot express to you how juicy, cheesy and flavorful these burgers are! Last week we were talking about tried and true recipes and this is another one I’ve been making since 2008. Although these Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers aren’t in Matt’s and my rotation, that’s only because we try to eat somewhat healthy and don’t want to be eating cheese-stuffed burgers weekly. However, when we’re in the mood for a burger both of us instantly think about these huge smoky burgers. Especially with the beer involved they just scream summertime and standing out by your grill with a drink in hand.

Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers  |  Lemon & Mocha

Instead of melting the cheese on top, the burger meat is loaded with chunks of smoked gouda cheese. They create melted and gooey pockets of cheese in the burger, but the chunks are just big enough to not completely melt and still maintain their rich smoky flavor. The smoky flavor gets even more pronounced by the addition of smoked paprika in the burger seasoning. The beer, Worcestershire sauce and other seasonings also add to the richness and depth of flavor in these burgers.

Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers  |  Lemon & Mocha

I suggest letting the burgers firm up a little in the fridge after you make the patties otherwise you risk them falling apart with the cheese and liquid ingredients added to the meat. These ingredients are what make the burger so juicy though so I definitely wouldn’t skip anything! Pretzel buns are perfect for this burger because you want something that’s going to stand up to the bold flavors, just like Uncle Rob’s Tailgate Filet Sandwiches with Whiskey Marinade.

Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers  |  Lemon & Mocha

These Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers would be the ultimate dish for Father’s Day or the burger-lover in your life. I think it’s especially fitting to be posting these Father’s Day burgers today because it is my father-in-law, Floyd’s birthday! In addition to being caring and always willing to go above and beyond to lend a hand, my father-in-law loves burgers. So what better way to celebrate? I hope you enjoy these and make them for someone special this weekend!

Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers  |  Lemon & Mocha

Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers
 
Yield: 6 burgers
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds 85% lean ground sirloin
  • ⅓ pound smoked gouda, cut into ¼-1/2” chunks
  • ¼ cup grated onion, about ⅓ of an onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces beer
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 pretzel buns
  • Lettuce and tomato, for serving
Directions
  1. In a large bowl add the ground sirloin, diced gouda, grated onion, Worcestershire sauce, dijon, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground coriander, salt and pepper. I used about 6 grinds each of our small salt and pepper grinders. Mix with your hands until roughly combined, try not to over-mix. Add the beer and mix into the burger. Form the burger meat into 6 patties. Lightly press your thumb into the center of the burger so the center is thinner than the edges. When burgers cook they bulge into the middle so this ensures an even patty. Place the patties on a plate or platter, cover then refrigerate for about 10 minutes. You can skip this step, but your burgers are more likely to stay together if they have a chance to firm up a little in the fridge.
  2. Heat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Lightly brush the burgers with the vegetable oil then grill for 4-5 minutes on each side for a medium done burger. Do not press down on the burger with your spatula while it is cooking or flip other than the one time. This is how burgers lose their juiciness! Bobby Flay recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees F for a perfect burger., which comes out medium, although the USDA recommends 160 degrees F for ground beef. We always follow Bobby Flay’s recommendation, but cook to whatever temperature you prefer or are comfortable with.
  3. Remove from the heat and serve on the pretzel buns with the lettuce, tomato and condiment of choice. I recently had these with some pesto mayo and it was SO good!

Recipe slightly adapted from Rachel Ray.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t remember how I stumbled across this recipe, but I am so glad I did. When I first saw it I knew I needed to make it immediately. The whole concept of Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs is genius! Basically the crunchy chicken meatballs take the place of both the croutons and the protein in this Caesar salad. What?! I know, I’m boggling your mind right now.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken meatballs are rolled in crushed croutons before they are baked so they are crispy and full of crouton-y goodness. These are anything but ordinary chicken meatballs. In addition to the crispy exterior, the meatballs are loaded with all the makings of a delicious Caesar salad. Instead of breadcrumbs we use more crushed croutons and instead of egg or oil we use Caesar dressing. There’s also Parmesan and scallions involved.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you can’t find ground chicken you can use ground turkey instead. I’ve made it both ways numerous times and it’s always delicious. If you want to talk about a tried and true recipe, this is it. I’ve been making this dish regularly since 2009; that’s almost 10 years of Chicken Caesar Salad Meatball perfection! I first made it for my roommates and we all devoured it. After college, it was immediately put on Matt’s and my regular dinner rotation and has stayed that way ever since. I especially love this salad when the weather is warm like this and now that we have a big toaster oven I just make them in there instead of heating up the whole kitchen with the oven.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’re having leftovers you can eat them cold, but I always heat the meatballs a little before putting them on top of the salad so you get a nice mix of the warm crunchy meatballs and the cold Caesar salad. Since you are using crouton crumbs both in the meatball and on the outside tasty croutons are key for this recipe. I love the Trader Joe’s cheese and garlic croutons. They are so addictive! When I crush the croutons I like to keep a few bigger chunks since they add to the texture of the crispy outside. You might have noticed from the photos, but the Caesar dressing I usually use isn’t the thick and creamy one you normally see, although you can certainly use that. These were made with the Trader Joe’s Caesar dressing, which is a more oil-based Caesar dressing. Either way, I know they will be delicious!

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken caesar meatballs
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken
  • 1⅓ cup crushed croutons, divided
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons caesar dressing
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
for the salad
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Caesar dressing
  • Additional fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Directions
for the chicken caesar meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside. Place 1 cup of the crushed croutons in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, the remaining ⅓ cup of the crushed croutons, scallions, parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper, being sure not to overmix.
  3. Divide the meat mixture into 4 sections. Use each section to roll out 3 chicken meatballs. Roll each meatball in the bowl of crushed croutons before placing on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have 12 chicken meatballs. They are big!
  4. Bake the chicken meatballs for 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and bake for another 15 minutes.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the caesar salad. Cut and wash the lettuce then toss with the caesar dressing and extra parmesan cheese. I usually plan on 4 cups of romaine lettuce per person. The amount of dressing and additional Parmesan is up to you!
  6. When the chicken meatballs are cooked, let them cool for 5-7 minutes before serving on top of the caesar salad.

Recipe adapted from blog Canaderican, which no longer exists.

Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I am so excited to share this healthy meal prep lunch with you! It is also great as dinner, but Matt and I love having these Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes for make-ahead lunches. Since I usually cook dinner the last thing I want to do is make lunch a big production. Quick and easy are key lunch qualities. I also don’t like having the same salad or sandwich for weeks on end and bonus points if the meal is hot! Something about a hot meal at lunch makes me look forward to it so much more. Anyone else? It’s okay, I’m probably the only weird one.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although you can certainly use store-bought barbecue sauce to make this even easier, I am obsessed with the quick and tasty barbecue sauce I came up with for these stuffed sweet potatoes. I am always looking for ways to make lunch healthier so I figured a homemade barbecue sauce would be a great way to control the sugar, sodium and preservatives going into this dish.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

To make the homemade barbecue sauce, everything is brought to a boil then simmered for fifteen minutes. That’s it! The sweetness comes from molasses and maple syrup so there is no refined sugar involved. Wanting to eliminate refined sugar and reduce sodium is also why I made the bulk of the sauce with tomato paste and water instead of ketchup. Don’t worry, between the added Worcestershire and other seasonings I promise you would never know it isn’t store-bought barbecue sauce. In fact it’s so easy and delicious you will definitely find yourself seeking out recipes that use barbecue sauce just so you can eat some more.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

The sweet and tangy barbecue sauce gets tossed in with the shredded chicken before being stuffed into tender roasted sweet potatoes. A little sprinkling of mozzarella cheese and some chopped red onion and you have arrived at lunch perfection. These Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are very filling and keep me stuffed until dinnertime, pun definitely intended. I cannot wait for you to try this recipe, especially the healthy homemade barbecue sauce!

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

On a side note, I love these new meal prep containers I got on Amazon. They are really secure – Matt commutes to work on public transportation and brings his lunch to work in his bag so they get tossed around and have never spilled. They are a great size for lunches or make-ahead dinners and they are dishwasher safe, which is key in my house. They also are freezer-safe and you can’t see this because I didn’t post a picture of the lid, but they have a little microwave vent at the top. Also, they look awesome for my photos! You can buy them here.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the barbecue sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste, about 6 ounces
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons molasses
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
for the chicken & sweet potatoes
  • 4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried well
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 4 tablespoons shredded cheddar or mozzarella
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Directions
for the barbecue sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
for the chicken & sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a small baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Pierce the sweet potatoes 5-6 times each with a fork. Lightly rub the sweet potatoes with oil (I use olive oil and a paper towel) then bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before carefully cutting a slit in the top of the potatoes.
  3. Toss the shredded chicken in the small saucepan with the barbecue sauce to coat. Divide the sauced chicken between the four potatoes and stuff in the center. Top each potato with 1 tablespoon of the shredded cheese and some of the red onion and parsley, if using. I cook these for make-ahead meals so the cheese gets melted when I microwave them, but if you are making and eating right away you could toss them under the broiler for a minute or 2 to melt the mozzarella.
Notes
I leave my shredded chicken pretty chunky instead of shredding super fine. It’s less time consuming and I like having larger chunks of chicken so it doesn’t taste like all sauce.

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Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  |  Lemon & Mocha

Oftentimes I will make a dish that’s really good, but because I have so many different recipes that I want to try I won’t make the dish again for a year or more. This is not one of those times. Even though I’m like a squirrel when it comes to recipes and meal ideas, constantly getting distracted by the next delicious thing, there are a few recipes out there that get our attention so much they end up on our exclusive rotation. This Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is on that short list.

Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s savory, succulent and sweet. The savory umami-ness of the pork comes from the soy sauce and rich beef broth. The pork is slow cooked with lots of liquid ingredients making it incredibly moist and tender. I love when pork has a little sweetness to it and we get that with the pineapple juice, brown sugar and ketchup.

Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  |  Lemon & Mocha

My favorite part about the pork is the thick sauce that gets drizzled on top. After combining the pineapple mixture you pour half over the pork while it cooks, while the other half gets cooked down separately on the stovetop along with some garlic and ginger to make a concentrated savory-sweet explosion of a sauce.

Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  |  Lemon & Mocha

Other than being lick-your-fingers delicious, the other reason this Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork made the list is because it’s very easy to make (hello, slow cooker!) and other than the pork and pineapple juice I always have everything already in my kitchen. Sometimes Matt and I will eat the BBQ pulled pork with the Hawaiian rolls, like in these photos, but usually we will just eat it with the cabbage slaw and asparagus sides I’m going to share later this week as our attempt to keep it “low-carb”.

Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  |  Lemon & Mocha

We usually get a few nights out of it and then freeze the rest. If you don’t eat pork, I’ve made this with boneless skinless chicken breasts before and it tasted really good. Not as good as the pork, because it’s pork vs a chicken breast, but still good. If you really want to get into the island mood, pair this dish with the Pineapple Mojitos from last week!

Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork  |  Lemon & Mocha

Hawaiian Barbecue Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
for the dry rub
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
for the pulled pork and sauce
  • 1 6-ounce can pineapple juice
  • ⅓ cup beef broth
  • ⅔ cup ketchup
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated ginger
  • King Hawaiian rolls for serving, if desired
Directions
for the dry rub
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper and ground ginger. Set aside.
for the pulled pork and sauce
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice, beef broth, ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and hot sauce. Set aside.
  2. Place the chopped onion and carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker. Coat the pork completely with the dry rub and continue to rub it into the pork until it has all been used up. Place the pork on top of the onion and carrots. Pour half of the pineapple juice mixture over the pork. Cover the remaining reserved half and place in the fridge. Cover and slow cook the pork on low for 7-8 hours.
  3. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a large cutting board. The meat should be falling apart. Shred the pork using two forks. Place the pork in a serving bowl or storage container and add a few tablespoons of liquid from the slow cooker, stirring to combine.
  4. Heat the canola oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the other half of the pineapple mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve drizzled over the pulled pork.

Recipe adapted from Sandra Lee.