by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE


Guess what is great about chicken salad? It is easily modifiable!!!!!

Letting children have input on ingredients is a fabulous way to help them learn healthy eating habits. There are definitely times when feeding children is a thank-less job, when food that was lovingly prepared sits uneaten and ignored. One particular principle I learned in school and have come to cherish as a parent is the “Division of Responsibility” (DOR) principle.  DOR is a guiding principle for feeding children in a healthy manner. You, the parent takes on the job (responsibility) of deciding what foods to serve as well as when and where they will be served. Your child will decide whether he or she eats what is provided and how much. This takes the pressure off both parent and child.

There are a few other tricks to the trade that help navigate the feeding of children. Here are a few of my favorites.

Elicit help: At the grocery store have the kids help pick out foods (especially produce). Focus on colors and textures and talk about what food looks good right now (positive talk). Help should continue at home, prepping vegetables, setting the table and yes have the kids help with cooking. Did you know that 90% of children will eat food they have cooked themselves? Want to get your kids in the kitchen more check out the Chop Chop Cooking Club at

Add in some fun: Have tastings of different products or foods. Try a sampling of yogurts, fruits or the same vegetable cooked two different ways. Talk about which of the samples is best and why, is it texture? Is it flavor or what about color? This opens up non-emotional discussion around foods. Then talk about other ways to season the foods or what might be a fun tasting the next time. If you want to level this up a notch there is a recipe reviewer form at were you can have your kiddos evaluate different recipes on a reviewer form. If they like something, then definitely add it to the meal rotation.

Consistency: My final favorite child nutrition strategy is consistency. Structure meal time as consistently as possible, regular meal and snack times (remember snacks are only to be had when needed). Kids should come to the table hungry (not famished but hungry). Secondly remember to present food consistently in a positive manner and be repetitive with new foods. It’s been said before but it is worth repeating (pun intended) it can take more than 10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted.

Mother-in-law Chicken Salad

The first time I had this chicken salad I had to get the recipe because it was the best chicken salad I had ever eaten. While it is a fairly classic recipe using rotisserie chicken makes it super simple. What makes this kid friendly is the fact it can be changed to meet the flavor profile of all family members. 

2 cups chopped cooked or rotisserie chicken (½ dark & ½ white or all white meat)

½ cup reduced fat mayonnaise (try canola or olive oil mayonnaise

1 ½ cups celery, chopped

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

¼ cup plain fat-free yogurt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon salt (if using rotisserie reduce or omit salt)

For a smooth texture put the dark meat or half the chicken (if using only white meat) into the food processor with ¼ cup of the mayonnaise.  Pulse chicken mixture until a smooth base is achieved. Transfer chicken base to a medium bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours to let flavors meld.

Yield:  6 servings (1/2 cup per serving)

Nutrient breakdown:  Calories 150, Fat 8g (4g monounsaturated fat, 1g saturated fat); Cholesterol 40mg, Sodium 350mg, Carbohydrate 6g, Fiber 2g, Protein 18g

Carbohydrate Choices: ½ carbohydrate, 2 ½ lean meats

Cook’s note: To toast the almonds place them in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes (or until they are fragrant and begin to turn brown).  Watch them closely as they burn quickly.

Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at To search for specific recipes go to You can also watch the segments at


This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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