KATHY HUSCHKA loves Chinese chicken salad, but she wanted to lighten up her recipe for it.

"The dressing scares me," she wrote to me. "Can you slim it down? Half a cup of oil sounds like so much."

I started by adding more vinegar to the dressing and reducing the amount of oil. Baking the chicken with some soy sauce and a bit of toasted sesame oil pumps up the salad's flavor so the dressing doesn't need a lot of oil. I also substituted Splenda for the sugar and cut out the extra teaspoon of salt, because the chicken seasoning packet comes loaded with sodium already.

Many Chinese chicken salads include a generous amount of almonds for extra crunch, but I use some shredded carrot instead to cut hundreds of calories and more than 50 fat grams. My alterations to Huschka's dressing cut the calories by 63 percent and the fat by 68 percent.


For salad:

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1/2 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 head red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, shredded

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges packed in water, drained

For dressing:

1 packet chicken seasoning from package of ramen noodles

2 tablespoons Splenda

1/2 cup white vinegar

3 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine soy sauce with sesame oil and brush onto chicken breasts. Arrange chicken breasts in a glass dish and bake until juices run clear, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from oven, cool completely and cut into 1/4-inch slices.

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrot, scallions, mandarin oranges and chicken. In a small bowl, whisk together chicken seasoning, Splenda, vinegar and canola oil. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Serves 4.

Per serving: 314 calories, 750 mg sodium, 11.4 fat grams, 69 mg cholesterol, 30 grams protein, 18 carb grams, 3.3 fiber grams.

Do you have a favorite food or popular recipe that you'd like to see made healthier? Send your recipes, along with a daytime phone number, to Kathy

Manweiler at dontsaydiet@gmail.com, or mail to: Don't Say Diet, P.O. Box 780865, Wichita, KS 67278.