Cocoa-Spiced Chicken Salad 

Enjoy the delicious health benefits of chocolate with cocoa-spiced chicken atop a nutritious blend of spinach, apples and peppers.  

30 Mins

About 30 minutes to prep and cook.

390 Cal

390 calories per serving

Serves 4

Makes 4 servings.


Impress your family and friends or treat yourself to a unique salad for lunch or dinner. Cocoa-dusted chicken, paired with homemade vinaigrette and nutrient -packed spinach, apples and bell pepper make this salad as healthy as it is delicious. Plus, study after study reinforces the idea that eating chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is good for you (in moderation, of course). One reason is that cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols. 

To make this recipe you will need a knife for prepping, two small bowls, one large bowl, a whisk and a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone liner.  


Nutrition information (per serving)*: Total Fat (23.4g); Carbohydrates (18g); Sodium (252mg); Sugar (10g); Fiber (4g); Cholesterol (83mg); Protein (29g) 


1 Tbsp. cocoa powder 

1 Tbsp. brown sugar 

1 tsp. dried thyme 

1/2 tsp. cumin 

1/4 tsp. cayenne 

1/4 tsp. salt 

1/4 tsp. black pepper 

1-pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 

1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup 

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar 

2 tsp. grainy mustard 

1 clove garlic, minced 

4 cups baby spinach 

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced 

1 apple, thinly sliced 

1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds (optional) 


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix together cocoa, sugar, thyme, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper.

Coat chicken with cocoa mixture. Place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet, and cook for 20 minutes to an internal temperature of 165°F.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, vinegar, mustard, garlic and salt and pepper to taste for vinaigrette.

In a large bowl, toss together spinach, bell pepper and apple. Serve sliced chicken, vinaigrette and sunflower seeds, if desired, over spinach mixture.  

Cocoa is flavanol-rich, which provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Flavanols also lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function by increasing nitric oxide in the blood. On top of that, flavanols may improve or even prevent type 2 diabetes.  

Spinach is a great choice for your salads because it’s full of antioxidants like vitamins A, C and K, which protect cells from free-radical damage. Free radicals damage cells and have been linked to rheumatoid arthritis and joint inflammation. Spinach is also high in bone-preserving calcium. 

Add the sunflower seeds to your salad to get a little crunch and healthy benefits like reducing chronic inflammation. Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant. They also contain the antioxidant selenium, which is helpful for cancer prevention.  


*Disclaimer: All nutritional information provided is approximate and based on USDA measurements. Actual amounts may vary based on exact ingredients used, how they are prepared and serving size.  

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