Southwestern BBQ Pulled Chicken Quinoa Salad Bowl

I love barbecue. In the middle of a Chicago winter (albeit a mild one right now), it’s reminiscent of smoky summer nights in the backyard and eating outside around a fire. Pork shoulder isn’t the most macro-friendly, though, so I began experimenting to find a lightened up (but still delicious) way to enjoy my Sweet Baby Ray’s.

A few weeks ago, we went to a restaurant nearby called Kinfork. It was right after I started my fitness journey, and I was a bit nervous about sticking to my goals while eating out. Luckily, I picked out a salad that was so filling and satisfying, I didn’t feel I was missing anything at all without my usual mashed potatoes and corn bread.

I was craving it so much after, that I decided to make it for myself with a few changes. I nixed the fried onion strings and added some extras to really make this a power bowl. With quinoa for protein and fiber and avocado for healthy fat, this balanced bowl will keep you going all day long.


For 4 servings:


Olive oil non-stick cooking spray
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 breasts)
1 tbsp. paprika
1/2 c. Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce (plus additional for serving if desired)
4 c. romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
1 c. cooked tricolor quinoa
1 medium avocado
1/4 c. shredded Colby jack cheese

Optional additional toppings: corn, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers, Tabasco chipotle hot sauce

  1. Check to make sure a large saucepan will fit between the racks of your oven; if not, remove the top one (I forget this almost every time and then have to go in with three layers of oven mitts to carefully remove a burning hot oven rack). Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray a large saucepan with olive oil cooking spray and add your onion and garlic. Stir to coat. Sauté until onions are translucent, 2-3 mins.
  3. Add your chicken and paprika, then stir to combine.
  4. Add your barbecue sauce and stir to coat. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Cover your saucepan and place in the oven. Cook at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.
  6. After 90 minutes, remove the pot from the oven. Transfer your chicken breasts to a large bowl and use 2 forks to shred. Pour liquid left in the saucepan over the shredded chicken and stir.
  7. Quarter your avocado, then slice. If you want to be extra fancy, slice almost all the way through to the end, then fan out your avocado slices.
  8. It’s time to assemble! Layer 1 cup romaine lettuce, 1/4 cup cooked quinoa, 1/4 of an avocado, 1 tablespoon of shredded Colby jack cheese, and 1/4 of the chicken in each of 4 bowls. At this point, you can add any additional veggies. I like to add a bit of Chipotle Tabasco sauce to give mine a bit of an extra kick, as well as a few tablespoons of corn when I have some left over.
  9. Enjoy! This recipe is perfect for two people to eat for dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day. Just squeeze a bit of lemon or lime juice on the avocado slices so they don’t go brown overnight.

Macros (without additional toppings):
Calories: 302
Protein: 30.5 g
Carbs: 23.25 g
Fat: 9.15 g

What will you top your bowl with? Have you ever found a lightened up version of a favorite comfort food is just as delicious as the original? What was it? Let me know!


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