gluten-free salads

Balsamic Chicken Salad w/ Figs, Portobellos and Candied Pecans

April 3, 2014

*thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind words on yesterday’s post! I feel so much better that I was able to get my thoughts off my chest. You guys are seriously the best!

I am not one for banning foods in my home, but certain foods must be avoided at all costs. They are the ones for which I have ZERO self-control around, namely granola and popcorn. 

I can now officially add a third to the list, candied pecans.

Balsamic Chicken Salad with Figs, Portobellos and Candied Pecans // thehealthymaven.comI’d like to believe it all evens out since I was eating them with a salad, but the pictures may be somewhat deceiving seeing as it was more like a bowl full of candied pecans with a small side salad. Now I kind of look at these pictures and cringe because I feel like I’m reliving that uncomfortable level of full feeling I had after eating the entire batch in a day. Not to self, only make enough for the salad next time…

And yes I am aware that pecans have been making a comeback on THM in a big way. That’s because on my recent trip to NYC I basically bought out the nut section at Trader Joe’s. Why is Trader Joe’s able to sell their nuts so cheap and no one else can?! Ima start growing some nuts! Can I grow nuts? Tree nuts? I’m so confused.

Balsamic Chicken Salad with Figs, Portobellos and Candied Pecans // thehealthymaven.comSpeaking of confusing, I only recently discovered (i.e. in the past year) that figs can actually be bought fresh. Am I the only person who wasn’t aware of this? How I didn’t clue into the fact that figs could be eaten before they were dried out into “dried figs” is beyond me. I’ve never claimed to be the smartest person around here…I only claim to be a know-it-all. Turns out you don’t have to actually know everything to be a know-it-all. It’s just that no one will believe anything you say. 

So, what have we covered today?

-I can’t keep candied pecans in the house
-I need to figure out how I can grow my own nuts
-Figs can be bought fresh
-I know everything

Have a very pleasant day, friends. 

SAVE print

Balsamic Chicken Salad w/ Figs, Portobellos and Candied Pecans

PREP TIME 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Serves 2     adjust servings


For the pecans*

  • 2 cups whole, raw pecans
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 2 T coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

For the chicken

  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless, I use Blue Goose
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

For the salad

  • 4-5 cups baby spinach
  • 3 fresh figs, sliced
  • 2 portellobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 T pecans

For the dressing

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey


    For the pecans:

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
    2. Combine pecans coconut oil, coconut palm sugar and sea salt.
    3. Spread out on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.
    4. Bake for 15-20 minutes (watch closely to make sure they don't burn).
    5. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 mins.

    For the chicken:

    1. Combine all ingredients and marinate chicken for at least 30 minutes.
    2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    3. Lay chopped portobellos along the bottom of a baking pan.
    4. Place chicken on top of portobellos and pour remaining marinade over portobellos.
    5. Bake for 10 mins.
    6. Remove from oven, flip chicken and bake for another 10 mins.
    7. Slice chicken.

    For the dressing:

    1. Combine all ingredients until well mixed.

    For the salad:

    1. In a large bowl combine spinach, goat cheese, 1/2 cup of pecans, portobellos and sliced chicken.
    2. Top with dressing and serve immediately



    *will only need 1/2 cup for recipe but will keep for up to one month

    Balsamic Chicken Salad with Figs, Portobellos and Candied Pecans // thehealthymaven.comHow do you grow nuts? Any recent food discoveries?


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    • Reply
      Arman @ thebigmansworld
      April 3, 2014 at 5:14 am

      …You only had this figgy realisation recently? Geeze. What kind of a maven are you?

      Off topic, but you mentioning NYC and nuts reminded me of those honey roasted nuts sold on the streets. Soooo good. Can you open one up here in Australia? outside my house? Candied pecans are like crack. Let’s see how well C hides these.
      Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…The Great Gelato Challenge

    • Reply
      Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
      April 3, 2014 at 5:19 am

      I love pecans! But never had them candied!
      Have you ever seen a cashew tree!? Those things are crazy
      Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Review: Sarah Fit – Get Skinny Again! + Interview With Sarah Dussault

    • Reply
      April 3, 2014 at 5:34 am

      Oh Girl, you crack me up. I have no freaking idea where nuts are from. I think hazelnuts grow on trees. The rest is too high for me to understand OR to reach.
      Candied Pecans come very close to Swiss Chocolate, aka crack. But only almost. Except if you would deliver them personally to my door. Pretty please??
      Lucie@FitSwissChick recently posted…F*** the scale – a rant

    • Reply
      meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles
      April 3, 2014 at 6:25 am

      Salads are that much better when candied nuts are involved which works for me as I am allergic to raw nuts. Once they are cooked and candied – I am safe. I can’t recall the name of the place but here in NY there was a roasted/candied nut kiosk that used to be in all of the malls that I now will rack my brain about trying to remember the name but my nose will never forget the smell. It was heavenly.
      meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted…Thinking Out Loud – Cookies, Sprinkles and Blog Redesign

    • Reply
      Kim @ BusyBod
      April 3, 2014 at 7:26 am

      You are cracking me up today! I am so with you, candied pecans are seriously like crack. The first time I had them was on a salad my cousins made many years ago at a family holiday dinner and it was life changing. I only eat them at restaurants though because like you, I can’t trust myself with them in my home.

      Please keep us posted on the home nut growing! In the meantime I will be at TJs I guess since I never shop there and therefore had no idea that they sold nuts cheaply in bulk. HLB fail!
      Kim @ BusyBod recently posted…Mexican tofu scramble {recipe}

    • Reply
      Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
      April 3, 2014 at 8:00 am

      Umm…I think nuts are grown on trees? Maybe? Don’t quote me on that.
      P.S. I still think that we need a group of bloggers to take a trip to Buffalo so we can hit up Trader Joe’s. I haven’t been to one in a year and a half, and that just makes me sad.
      Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted…Goal Talk: April.

    • Reply
      Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat
      April 3, 2014 at 8:48 am

      What an awesome salad! It has lots of my favorite things too – candied pecans, Portobello mushrooms, goat cheese and fresh figs!
      Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted…Totally Random Bits of Info #13

    • Reply
      Sarah @ Feeeding the Brain and Body
      April 3, 2014 at 9:19 am

      What!? Grow nuts! I want to do that too we should totally meet up and have a nut growing get together to put pots together (how does that work haha). I’m actually know a fan of sweet things in my salad but my mom is and mothers day is coming up so maybe I will make her this. I know she would love it!
      Sarah @ Feeeding the Brain and Body recently posted…Black Bean Buns

    • Reply
      Heather @ Run Like a G!
      April 3, 2014 at 9:56 am

      I LOLed at this post! Well done Ms. Know-it-all 😉
      Heather @ Run Like a G! recently posted…#runnerthings

    • Reply
      Meghan @fitnesscrEATures
      April 3, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Yeah girl I go to Trader Joe’s JUST for those nuts because they are SO SO much cheaper than anywhere else. It makes literally ZERO sense. And I can’t keep shit like that in my house either… So….
      YUMMY YUMMY and join the club of know it alls! 🙂

    • Reply
      Alisha @ Alisha's Appetite
      April 3, 2014 at 10:07 am

      LOL. I have never had a fresh fig before and also didn’t know they existed?? And you mean you can’t grow nuts on trees? Or can you? Now I’m confused. I’ll just go make these candied pecans and call it day now.
      Alisha @ Alisha’s Appetite recently posted…Artichoke & Sundried Tomato Cauliflower Rice with Lemon Pesto Sauce

    • Reply
      Christine@ Apple of My Eye
      April 3, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Ohh the combination of candied pecans and figs is making my heart swoon. This sounds so delicious and fresh! Great recipe, lady!
      Christine@ Apple of My Eye recently posted…Thinking Out Loud: Blog Gainz and Random Thoughts

    • Reply
      April 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Haha. You always make me laugh. What is the deal with nuts being so expensive?! Especially pecans and pine nuts! If you know how to grow ’em cut me in on the deal. I’ll help you inport/export. We’ll get rich.

      I love fresh figs! I like them way more than dried figs. The problem is that I can’t always find them when I want them!
      FitBritt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Awesome April

    • Reply
      April 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

      This salad is PACKED with depth of flavor, holy cow! I’ve been into figs lately, need to post a recipe with them! I am Trader Joes fan, and pretty much only shop there. The nut prices are ridiculously cheap, but hey, no complaints! It’s wonderful!! Always good to have a good variety of nuts always on hand! Since you were just in NYC, do you have a must try restaurant?! I am going next Wednesday!
      Kelly – LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE recently posted…Baked Scotched Eggs

      • Reply
        Davida Kugelmass
        April 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

        Hi gorgeous!!!! I think you would love Westville! Amazing for brunch or really any meal. Make sure you order some of their vegetable sides! There’s 3 locations in NYC. The least busy is the one in the East Village but trust me when I say it is worth the wait.

        I also am obsessed with a place called Coppelia if you like Latin Food. It’s owned by the same people behind Yerba Buena which is a super popular resto but this place is equally as good and not as busy! Get their guac and their huevos rancheros!

        You’re from Minnesota right?! I’ll probs be in Minneapolis in June so if you have any recommendations for me, let me know!

        • Reply
          Kelly - LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE
          April 3, 2014 at 2:49 pm

          Totally adding these to my list for my visit!! Thanks so much!

          As for Minneapolis, it is an absolute MUST to eat at Bar La Grassa. It is my favorite place…and always packed. So be sure to make a reservation for dinner well in advance! The owner is a James Beard winner! Try the soft eggs and lobster! Its amazing!! Also, in St. Paul, for breakfast/lunch my favorite spot is The Buttered Tin. Awesome owners, wonderful quality of food. Truly a gem and it hasn’t even been open for a year! Spyhouse coffee is my favorite spot for coffee/tea. Very unique lattes and awesome atmosphere!
          Kelly – LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE recently posted…Baked Scotched Eggs

    • Reply
      Mary Frances
      April 3, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Balsalmic is the BEST. So is grilled chicken! And oh man, I have no self control around granola or candied nuts either. Seriously, I will eat an entire batch in one afternoon!
      Mary Frances recently posted…Dairy Free Chocolate + Bananas Fosters Pound Cake Parfait

    • Reply
      Alexis @ Hummusapien
      April 3, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      OMG. Candied pecans are like my fave food but I legit can’t buy them because any amount of candied nuts is one serving for me. I do major damage to the nut section every time I’m at TJ’s. I mean lezbehonest…. I do major damage to every section.

    • Reply
      Kim @ Hungry Healthy Girl
      April 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      I love everything about this recipe, especially the fresh figs, but I don’t think they’re in season here in Texas right now. I can usually find them fresh in June and July. Beautiful pictures, btw!
      Kim @ Hungry Healthy Girl recently posted…Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus (recipe update)

    • Reply
      Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli
      April 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Omg, yes! Candied nuts are like CRACK to me! I’ve learned that I have to portion them out because if I sit down with a bowl/container/ jar of them in front of me, there will be no stopping until I can see the bottom of that bowl/container/jar! Lol! And pecans are most definitely at the top of that incriminating list! Ever had Emerald’s dark chocolate and peanut butter mixed nuts? Do yourself a favor. Don’t. 😉

      I went for YEARS never knowing the beauty of a fresh fig. Then I went years thinking they weren’t as tasty as the dried ones. THEN I had some super sweet and super ripe fresh ones…and quickly added them to my TOP favorite fruits list! 😀
      Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli recently posted…Thinking Out Loud: Duck, Duck, VEGAN!

    • Reply
      Amanda @ .running with spoons.
      April 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Can you come make me a salad??? I’ve been slacking on them BIG time, probably because my idea of a salad right now is tossing some baby greens in a bowl with whatever random veggies I have on hand. Either that or maybe the fact that I found bugs colonizing on my greens sort of turned me off. Also… the one time I tried fresh figs, they tasted like lettuce. I take it this isn’t the way they’re supposed to taste?
      Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #72 .

    • Reply
      Erin @ The Almond Eater
      April 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      WE KNOW YOU KNOW EVERYTHING. Gosh. When you figure out how to grow your own nuts (lol……I’m 12) let me know.
      Erin @ The Almond Eater recently posted…Thinking Out Loud #9

    • Reply
      April 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      How do you have fresh figs in Toronto but I can’t find them in the states? Oh yeah, because Toronto has like 5 million people – learning new things every day.

      This is seriously everything I love on a plate. I am giving up my go to salad and making this one for lunch next week. I said it, I have to do it. Hold me accountable.
      Cassie recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday: Nicaraguan Eats [2]

    • Reply
      April 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      Yum – this looks good.
      I haven’t ever used figs in a recipe – I think it’s because when I was about 10 I was staying at my great grandmas house. They had a fig tree just past their back yard and I thought I would just pull one off and eat it. YUCK!!! I don’t know if it wasn’t ripe, if I ate peeling (do they have a peel?) or what but it was nasty and bitter and horrible.
      Maybe I should try figs the correct way and erase that bad experience!!!
      Kim recently posted…A Fun Way to Honor a Legend

    • Reply
      April 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      These pictures are beautiful, I want to swan dive I to your salad.

      Fresh figs are AH-MAZING!
      Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets recently posted…Currently: April 2014

    • Reply
      GiGi Eats Celebrities
      April 3, 2014 at 7:46 pm


      Remind me of ancient Roman’s balls.

      Just sayin’.
      GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted…Food Foolery!

    • Reply
      Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves
      April 3, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      I also have zero control around popcorn, especially the white cheddar variety. “Just one kernel” and I’m doomed. I kinda feel like it will be the same with the candied figs too— those look and sound so addicting!
      I am obsessed (OBSESSED) with dried figs, but I have yet to try the fresh version. I must do that soon so I can have this salad!
      Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves recently posted…Behind the Scenes #15: Hit the Spot

    • Reply
      Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
      April 3, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Mmm looks so good! I haven’t seen fresh figs in stores recently and that makes me sad.

      I don’t know about other nuts, but I know almonds grown on trees! Someone tweeted a picture of an almond growing on a tree at me a few days ago haha.
      Chelsea @ Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen recently posted…Sesame soy tofu

    • Reply
      Lindsay @ Shiny Love Affair
      April 3, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      YUM. Can’t wait to make this.

      Oh boy, popcorn and granola are zero self-control zones for me too. Along with any sort of baked good, mini eggs, and ketchup chips.
      Lindsay @ Shiny Love Affair recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday #9: An Ode to Oh She Glows

    • Reply
      April 4, 2014 at 6:56 am

      This looks divine- love salads! Super fresh and I love the sound of the candied pecans!
      whatjessicabakednext recently posted…Lemon Drizzle Iced Poppyseed Cakes

    • Reply
      Nikki @ The Road to Less Cake
      April 4, 2014 at 9:13 am

      I need you to come to the UK and cook for me, lady! xx

    • Reply
      April 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      figs and goat cheese, oh how i love these. IT’s like a flavor explosion in my mouth. The good kind. LOL!

      p.s. Love the photos hoot.
      lindsay recently posted…Gluten Free Training Food and Nutrition for Triathletes

    • Reply
      April 4, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      SERIOUSLY you and Erin are killing me with the figs right now!! God they’re so super delicious but where in the world do you buy them?!?! I seriously can’t even find dried figs in these parts. They’re just sooooooooooo yummmyyyyy gah plus portobellos I die. I die.
      Paige@FitNotFad recently posted…Why Today Was the Best Day Ever

    • Reply
      April 4, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      So how about this…I give you my portion of chicken, and you give me a double helping of figs and nuts..holy YUM.

    • Reply
      Alex @ Alex Runs For Food
      April 5, 2014 at 7:24 am

      Oh nom nom nom I love any but that is candied 😉 And topping a salad with them is perfection!!!!
      Alex @ Alex Runs For Food recently posted…Balanced Bites Podcast with Jen Sinkler

    • Reply
      Consuelo @ Honey & Figs
      April 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      I can’t have granola or candied pecans around either haha. One minute and BAM! they’re gone. However, I’d love to make this salad because it looks amazing ooohhh I love those figs ;–)
      Consuelo @ Honey & Figs recently posted…Granola Crust Greek Yogurt Fruit Tart

    • Reply
      Gabby @ the veggie nook
      April 6, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      Hehe don’t worry- I didn’t figure out the whole fresh thing until a couple years back when I saw them on blogs. So we are in this together 😉
      Gabby @ the veggie nook recently posted…oatmeal raisin cookie dough pancakes for one

    • Reply
      Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner
      April 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Oh my gosh I love fresh figs! Maybe I knew about them because my family in Greece has fig trees…how cool is that? When my husband and I went to Greece a couple of years ago I insisted that the one thing we must do was to enjoy a fresh fig. I know they can be bought here but it’s only available for a short period of time by me and they never taste as good as the ones from Greece. Could be mental, but I never claimed to be perfect. 😉 Anyway, i love this salad and I can think of 10 other ways to use those delicious candied pecans…most of them having to do with dessert…again, I’m not perfect. 😉
      Tina @ Tina’s Chic Corner recently posted…Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches

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