Chicken Quesadillas with Avocado Salad
Healthy low-fat Chicken Quesadillas served up with a bright, fresh Avocado Salad. Enjoy these two complimentary recipes for an easy, guilt-free dinner.
If you’ve been coming here for a while, you probably know that I rarely get personal in this space.
I mean, really, it’s a cooking blog. Who wants to read about what I did last weekend or what I think about the latest news from Washington? Seriously.
But today I’m asking you to indulge me while I get personal for a few minutes. Personal about cancer. The beast, the monster that is the disease called cancer.
Cancer is a Monster of a Disease
There are very few of us whose lives have not been touched in some way by cancer. Maybe it was a close friend, maybe it was a parent, maybe yourself.
I’ve known friends and acquaintances who have struggled with different types of cancer. Some fought the Beast and survived. Others did not.
My most personally devastating encounter with cancer was with my Daddy. (And, yes, southern girls still call their fathers “Daddy” no matter how old we get. Just wanted to get that cleared up.) Daddy lost his long battle with lung cancer in January 2001.
I’d like to tell you about him, how hard he fought, but now even after nearly 10 years I find that the words just won’t come. Just thinking about it I have to fight back the tears. Maybe one day soon I’ll be able to tell his story. Today’s not the day.
My Cancer Story
I find it much easier to tell my own cancer story. It all started with a tiny little mole on my upper left arm.
One day, out of the blue, that mole just started itching. I didn’t pay much attention for a while until one morning when I scratched it in the shower and it began to bleed. I thought that was strange, but still didn’t think much about it. Not much, anyway, until it just wouldn’t heal.
After a few days of that mole not getting better, the warning bells started going off in my head and I called my doctor’s office just to “get it looked at.” I knew the warning signs, but still wasn’t all that concerned. Apparently, neither was my doctor. He took a quick look and said he thought it was nothing, but he’d do a little biopsy if it would make me feel better.
A couple of days later one of the nurses called me at work and asked me if I could come into the office. That’s never a good sign – when they ask you to come into the office after they’ve done a biopsy.
I told her I knew what that meant and asked her what the biopsy showed. She, of course, said the doctor would explain everything. And, she said, “You might want to ask your husband to meet you here.”
Can you imagine the level of panic I felt by the time I got to the doctor’s office? Bill (better known to all of you as BeeBop) met me and they quickly took us back to an exam room.
When the doctor walked through the door with the results in his hand he was white as a sheet. What he and I both thought was a silly little mole was melanoma. An aggressive, dangerous melanoma.
I Had a Happy Ending!
I’m getting really long winded here, so I’ll try to get to the point. The doctor sent me immediately across the street to the surgeon’s office and by the time I left there I was scheduled for surgery in two days.
What was a tiny mole about half the size of a pencil eraser required the removal of tissue leaving a scar about 6 inches long. But the end of this story is positive!!
That frightening episode was in 1999 and now more than ten years later I’ve never had another occurrence. Praise God.
Now, I’ve talked your ears off and told that long, drawn out story so that you’ll know why when I saw that Chris from Mele Cotte was holding the 4th Annual Cooking to Combat Cancer event, I had to participate. There’s loads of research that shows a correlation between the foods we eat and our tendency to contract cancer. And, I freely admit that I could eat better more often.
Honestly, I do make an effort to cut out the bad fats and add things that I know are good for us – fresh fruits, fresh veggies, healthier oils. So, for Chris’ Cooking to Combat Cancer, I whipped up these lovely Chicken Quesadillas that I found on the Mayo Clinic‘s healthy foods web site.
Also, made up my own little Avocado Salad which contains several cancer-fighting foods to go alongside. I highly recommend both recipes.
How to Make Chicken Quesadillas with Avocado Salad
Prepare the avocado salad. Dice the avocado into bite-sized pieces.
Add to a medium bowl with the chopped, seeded tomato and sliced red onion. Add the lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside while preparing the quesadillas.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Cut each chicken breast into bite-sized cubes.
In a large, nonstick frying pan, add the chicken and onions and sauté until the onions are tender and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the salsa, tomatoes and cilantro.
To assemble: lay a tortilla flat and spread about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture onto the tortilla, leaving about 1/2 inch free around the outer rim. Sprinkle with a spoonful of shredded cheese. Fold tortilla in half. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Lightly coat the top of the tortillas with cooking spray.
Bake until quesadillas are lightly browned and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Place the quesadillas under the broiler during the last minute or so of cooking for a more crisp finish. Cut in half and serve immediately.
I served the quesadillas with the Avocado Salad along with my bright, fresh Pico de Gallo and a dollop or two of low-fat sour cream.
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Chicken Quesadillas with Avocado Salad
For the quesadillas:
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, each 4 oz.
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1 cup chopped seeded fresh tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 6 flour tortillas 8” in diameter
- 1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
For the salad:
- 1 ripe Haas avocado
- 1 to mato chopped and seeded
- 2 tblsp. thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tsp. olive oil garlic infused oil is nice
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- Prepare the avocado salad. Dice the avocado into bite-sized pieces. Add to a medium bowl with the chopped, seeded tomato and sliced red onion. Add the lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside while preparing the quesadillas.
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- In a large, nonstick frying pan, add the chicken and onions and sauté until the onions are tender and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the salsa, tomatoes and cilantro.
- Cut each chicken breast into bite-sized cubes.
- To assemble: lay a tortilla flat and spread about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture onto the tortilla, leaving about 1/2 inch free around the outer rim. Sprinkle with a spoonful of shredded cheese. Fold tortilla in half. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Lightly coat the top of the tortillas with cooking spray.
- Bake until quesadillas are lightly browned and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Place the quesadillas under the broiler during the last minute or so of cooking for a more crisp finish. Cut in half and serve immediately.
–Avocado Salad recipe from Lana’s Cooking
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
More Quesadilla Recipes …
- 10 MInute Quesadillas from Cookie + Kate
- Everything Quesadillas from Barefeet in the Kitchen
- Greek Quesadillas from A Couple Cooks
- Chicken Quesadillas from The Pioneer Woman
Such a great cause, and a wonderful-looking recipe to honor it. My family has been lucky enough to avoid cancer so far — knock wood — unlike so many others I’ve known. I’m so grateful for that.
I lost both of my parents to cancer. I felt like I was robbed by this horrible disease. I feel your pain.
The recipes look delicious!
Thanks for sharing your story and such a healthy recipe which is a much appreciated addition to my collection of recipes!
I’m really happy to know your are cancer free. But I’m so sorry that your Daddy succumbed to it. Thanks very much for sharing your story. You are not too long winded. Thanks for bringing cancer awareness on the food blogosphere. More people need to know. A friend’s friend has just been diagnosed of pancreatic cancer that has spread to the lungs and Dr has given her only 2 months to live…..soooooo sad. My own best friend has survived for more than 7 years from aggressive lymphatic cancer. Maybe you would like to consider incorporating freshly made vegetable juices into your diet. It’s power packed with nutrients and helps to build up our body cells and immune system. Please take care and keep sharing. Have a blessed weekend. Mary
Lana, thank you so much for participating…and mostly – sharing your story. I wish I didn’t know first hand the panic you felt during each one of the steps you encountered. I was diagnosed on a Friday and was in surgery Monday morning. Crazy how life can flip you upside down in an instant.
Thanks again, and thanks for checking in with the Mayo Clinic for your recipe! Cheers, my new found friend!
thank you for this. It is easy to see why the Gainesville Times put your blog in an article recently. Way to go.
The recipe looks great, and something I’m sure my family and I would love. These will go on my list for next weekend.
Thank you for sharing your story, Lana. I’m as glad as everyone else your outcome was a success! I, too, remember the days of laying out in the sun, drenched in baby oil tinted with iodine and no SPF, until we were crisp. Heck, my best friend and I use to lay out using those metal reflecters you held up to your face. I shudder when I think of that now and pray it doesn’t come back to haunt me.
I’m working this weekend so my time in the kitchen will be limited. But these look like something I may want to try next weekend, when I have time to myself!
You go, big sister!
By the way – the salad, plus shrimp, and served over shredded romaine lettuce is one of Uncle John’s favorites.
I should add that my melanoma was a direct result of trying get a tan on a body that is descended from the fair peoples of Ireland, Scotland and the like :-) All those teenage days spent lying in the sun finally showed up in that one little mole…about 25 years later! It really can’t be said enough – USE THE SUNSCREEN!
Thanks so much for this honest and eye catching post. Yes, the recipe looks delicious, but the awareness about this aggressive disease is very important for all!
A great recipe for a good cause. I’m glad your story had a happy ending. We definitely need to watch what we do and eat in terms of out health. It’s something I’ve come to learn in the last few years.
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for telling your story. So happy to hear you’ve done so well. Your quesadillas look great and the avocado salad sounds so healthy and delicious! Great job, Lana.
Looks wonderful. I can almost smell it!
I really love your post, and what you do in your blog. I guess the connection between food blogging and cancer surviving is more common than I thought. The reason I became involved with Indian food 20 years ago was after being diagnosed with an agressive form of breast cancer in my 30’s. This was after being a vegetarian, non smoker, non drinker. My doctors wife mentioned ayurvedic food so while having chemo I started cooking Indian, (also helped by my sister-in-law the expert Indian chef) and have been cooking ever since. At the time they gave me a poor prognosis, but here I am up to my ears in Indian food today.
Excellent post and a great reminder to never take our health for granted. This post is especially timely given all the sun-worshippers gearing up for the beach or vacations this summer. My dad had skin cancer, too. Fortunately he was able to keep his under control with a few small surgeries and chemical peels.
Congrats on remaining cancer free! I love this post and the food and will be sending it out to everyone I know!
That is very touching and inspiring story. I strongly believe in our health is what we eat and just putting little extra effort to eat healthy will help our family and our self in long run. The recipe itself is so yummy I am just sad it wasn’t posted yesterday otherwise I could have enjoyed it for lunch today sharing the story with my friends. But anyway i will be talking about it.