In Nutrition, Videos

February 22, 2011

Video Article

“How many carbs or how much fat I have in the meal is all based on the protein, and it’s all going to be evenly divisible by whatever the protein,” says Cherie Chan of CrossFit Verve, located in Denver, Colo.

In Part 1, Cherie and husband Matt prepare a chicken salad using Zone Diet principles to balance the protein, fat and carbohydrate.

Cherie starts with her protein: grilled chicken breasts. From there, she adds carbohydrate in the form of chopped peppers, celery and onions. For the dressing, she uses eggs (another protein), limes (carbohydrates), and mustard and curry powder for seasoning. She uses slivered almonds for the fat.

After the salad is assembled, Cherie measures the total amount to portion it equally and shows how she serves the dish as a complete meal.

In Part 2, the Chans share their nutrition tips for making a Paleo-Zone diet work.

“I can’t recommend a food processor enough,” Matt says as he makes short work of the vegetables they need for their meals.

They store the excess in the fridge to easily add carbohydrate blocks to any meal.

“We’ve both found that we both need a minimum of one block of vegetables in carbohydrates,” Matt says of each meal they eat in a day. “It’ll sustain us longer, we don’t get hungry as quickly, and it actually assists with our digestion a little bit better than all the fruit does.”

To make your own chicken salad, download the recipe here.

Part 1
6min 09sec

Part 2
4min 59sec

Additional reading: CFJ Issue 21: Zone Meal Plans by Greg Glassman, published May 1, 2004.

Free Download

Part 1:
Part 2:


37 Comments on “Nutrition Prep Day with the Chans: The Chicken Salad ”


wrote …

Wow, it doesn't have to be complicated apparently :)

Great tips for me as I'm pretty "unlucky" when it comes to eating right ..


wrote …

That was really informative, question though... Do you take what you drink into account? Milk, water, juice?

And what about post workout?


wrote …

This is an amazing resource for the whole community. Thanks!


wrote …

Media Dept.,

I could see this being done like the garage gym videos; user submitted videos of Zone meal prep. I've got a few Zone meals I cook in advance like this also. I'd love to share.



wrote …

Wonderful video, I'm going to have to slowly transform my wife into a zone meal cooker like her!

Scott I love the idea, I'd like to hear what other people's Prep for Zone meals consist of..



wrote …

Another awesome recipe! Thanks Cherie!!!


wrote …

Overall I think this idea is good however I will criticize a couple of things.

1) If you are going to go through the trouble of all of this weighing and measuring based on a macronutrient of protein, fat, and carb then why would you measure it based on volume once the chicken salad is complete. This would mean the 1/2 cup would have to contain the exact amount for all of these measurements to work unless you were working off an entire week block measurement rather then a meal or day.

2) If you had to chop and add extra veg/fruit (carbs) afterwards to maintain a block level of 3.25 why not just cut all of the carbs at one time, this almost defeats the purpose of the preparation. I can almost see prepping the chicken and sauce and then measuring it out and chopping up veg when it is time to eat as being far simpler and this would ensure a proper balance of fat, carb, and protein per serving. This is assuming that is the goal.


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

thank you for sharing guys. these videos are hard to watch sometimes because the food looks so delicious and makes me wish i had the patience to prepare food like that. but still...keep the vids coming!!


wrote …

I might be a little confused, but the whole idea of meticulously measuring out quantities of food seems a little hard to reconcile with my understanding of what Crossfit represents.

Why not focus more on food quality, and just make sure we get variety in our diets? Do you really think any Paleolithic man would have bothered to carefully measure his food to check that his diet lined up with the 30/30/40 ratio?


replied to comment from Connor Healy

Connor maybe you should post a link demonstrating how you measure your macronutrients so we can compare and contrast the different methodologies. Surely you're not one of these guys who just nitpicks stuff without actually having done it yourself! ;)

Until I get a look at Connor's method I have to say thanks for the excellent video series. Gave me some great ideas for my own healthy eating.


wrote …

Gary, It's called the Zone, it's not Paleo. Read the book by Dr.Barry Sears, its focused more on nutrient intake quantities and not so much which foods.

Good Video, Thanks to the Chans'


replied to comment from Jeff Howard

You are absolutely right Jeff, I am not one of those guys and have been doing this for awhile. I will try and get a similar recipe and link it to you next week. I see a Bobby Flay style Zone/Paleo throwdown coming out of this in the future.


wrote …

I understand that blocks put you in the zone ratio, but for me calculating macro grams just makes more sense. Having/knowing that there is 50g P, 20g F, and 20g C in each meal just easier and has more meaning than block counts (the above number were just picked out of the sky).


wrote …

This is awesome! Seriously, thanks guys...
I always felt like it was ridiculous in the amount of time
I spent prepping and cooking and it would still not be
enough. So now that I see If I spend the extra hour and a half
it will all be worth it.
I like those recipes too.
You guys should get on the Food Network!! Call it CrossFit Cooking ,
or something like that.


wrote …

Great series of videos with some awesome ideas. One thing that comes to mind though is that neither of you up the fat at all, or at least it appears from these videos as though you don't. I would have expected two athletes of your caliber to be 3, 4 or 5X fat. Any insight there?


wrote …

Great job guys. I wish I had that type of structure in my life. I hope crossfit will keep the zone videos coming.


Richard Meurk wrote …



wrote …

sherwood..... keep this series going! love it! Also can we add a tab for "crossfit kitchen" and have more people submit recipes with block breakdowns. It makes life so much easier when trying to find new meals and then figure everything out.



wrote …


I am so jealous of your cooking abilities! You guys are awesome and I love both of you and these videos!!



wrote …

Really? I just don't understand why you have to weigh and measure everything so exactly. Just eat for your needs. Everyone knows The correct foods to eat, and how their bodies respond to those foods. I tried strict Zone last year for a couple months, and honestly, it was a huge hassle. Trying to stuff some of the amounts of food down at every meal left me bloated from the shear quantity. I switched to a more "paleo" approach and just made sure that I got at least 200gm protein a day and good carbs/fats. I felt better, my training improved, and I had a lot less anxiety about how "accurate" a meal I was eating. I think this is an important resource for people to have, but don't just follow suit because Matt Chan (who kicks ass, by the way) said it works for him. I think that some of the people who follow the journal would stand in line for hours at Dairy Queen if Mikko said he only consumes milk shakes for sustinance.


wrote …

I cringe when I see otherwise intelligent CrossFitters obsessively counting blocks and doing long division in their heads while trying to fix lunch. I am a loyal CF'er and have been for several years. But the business relationship between CF and The Zone Diet is disturbing on several levels.

For one thing, CF is based upon scientific evidence. The WODs are results-based and constantly evolving. For a science-based strength and fitness program to align itself with a dietary program based on a theory completely unsupported by science is alarming. The magic of The Zone diet is the product of one man's mind and nothing more. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support such a theory. And to top it off, The Zone Diet is a business. They sell things. Get it?

I'm afraid that in this instance, CF has subordinated its objectivity for commercial purposes. I hope this tendency does not inflitrate other areas of CF (e.g., more sponsors like Progenex dictating the need for supplementation). I'd like to see CF revert to its previous position, where Paleo is presented as an acceptable alternative to The Zone. Paleo is at least based upon sound science and not the proprietary formula of a businessman. The Zone is way to high in carbs, fructose and PUFA for my taste.

This is one area were I wish CF'ers would educate themselves and become informed consumers, rather than simply adhering to commercial advice.


wrote …

Religion, Politics, and Nutrition.

I agree with Steve and Tim on this, Paleo is great, I have been doing it for awhile and have crushed PR's with the exception of my 5km since doing it. Weighing and measuring can have its place, you can get an accurate baseline for 6 weeks and then "tweak" your intake if you want to get scientific with it.

If more protein works good, then do that, if more fat and less carbs, then that works for you. Certain types of food work well for some people better then others as well, find out for yourself and let performance be your guide. There is no one system that will work for everyone, but once you have that baseline you can raise or lower levels based on that original control. I know pleanty of people who go straight paleo no measuring and do awesome, I even know a guy who does the warrior diet (eat once a day paleo) and is a WOD killer.


replied to comment from Korey Akers

Corey, you pretty well summed up my concerns when you said Zone was 'focused more on nutrient intake quantities and not so much which foods'.

So basically, Zone does not care much about food quality, right? Zone says you can basically eat whatever you like, providing your diet contains the supposedly ideal ratio of macronutrients? Well what about micronutrients? They might not necessarily impact on athletic performance in the short term, but they are very important in respect to long term health and wellbeing and prevention of degenerative disease.

The Crossfit approach to exercise is a focus on quality and variety in movement. So when it comes to diet, why not simply focus on quality and variety in food?


wrote …

True that, Connor. Warrior Diet is awesome if you can eat enough in your given window. I think Spencer Hendel does that, and he kicks ass. I tried it, and did pretty well. My body fat was crazy low. I had to quit when I started doing more of a strength bias, plus travel for a living messes it all up. The zone IS a business, but there's also Mastering the zone where you find out what is right for you. I find that measuring protein and carb worked for me, and my fat intake is unlimited. Zone and Paleo both seem to be afraid of saturated fats. I never talk to a client about nutrition until they ask me. I'm a trainer, not an affiliate owner. I find that nutrition is usually the last thing people are willing to change for good. Luckily they usually ask pretty early on! I point them to the primal blueprint most of the time, as it's the easiest place to start, and the website kicks ass-so does the cookbook! Zone is hard to do unless you eat the same things all the time, IMO. Packing it up ahead of time really really helps though. I like to portion out carbs and put them in the fridge, then I can grill my meat or whatever, then whip the carbs out from the gladware in the fridge and fire it up. Easiest way for me! Then again, its all about what's best for YOU. Experiment!


wrote …

Great videos. I've spent years trying to rationalize finding a way of eating that doesn't require me to be accountable to measuring and weighing food.

Having gone from clinically obese at 48% body fat to 20% body fat, I've come to the realization that to achieve results, I must be willing to hold myself accountable.

I've eaten paleo strictly since starting CF in July of 2010, gained mass, wear the same sized pants although a tad more loose but nothing profound.

I spent the majority of this past weekend watching the lectures and studying the zone food charts provided here on the Journal. I took the next step of blocking, measuring, weighing and prepping my paleo foods in to zone blocks and what an eye opener it was.

It's only been a few days and nothing makes me feel more confident and relaxed than to open the fridge and have things prepped and measured in advance to grab an go. I've eaten such much better quality meals.

This recipe is one I will add as well. Thanks for helping those willing to take the time!


Jennifer McKenzie wrote …

For all the paleo-ers, what part of any of the recipes were not paleo friendly?

Maybe the salt and vinegar in the mustard if you HAVE to get picky.

Did you even watch the video before starting to criticize it? Paleo is hard. Zone is hard. The Chans have beautifully mastered both. Both recipes used high quality food in ratios that work for the Chans. Some individuals may need to play more or less with ratios and I’m confident that the Chan’s have done their fair share of n=1 tweaking.

Very well done. I’ll be putting the recipes on our affiliate blog for all our athletes to try. If all our athletes ate this way, either from a zone or paleo perspective, they would all be better for it. Looking forward to more videos. Thanks Matt and Cherie.


replied to comment from Tim Barnes



wrote …

Anyone know what food processor they are using in the video? I'm looking to invest in one and theirs looks awesome.


wrote …

It's the Cuisinart Custom Prep 11 - you can get it at Costco. It's splendid!


wrote …

nice video,

quick question - in terms of "volume" of the salad you made - does it come out to be roughly 1/3 pt and 2/3 carbs ?



wrote …

I really enjoy these videos and the fact that you are both in the kitchen preparing your food together. It shows that you both care and enjoy the fuel you put into your bodies. Nicely done!


wrote …

Thank you for the video. Made the Chan salsa chili (the salsa scared me because I'm from Texas) but was surprised how good it was....really easy too. Keep the videos coming...always looking for something to get me out of a rut in my selection of meals for the family.

I must say though how amazed I am at the negative comments about the zone tie in here. I'm very happy for the people that have found success with eating without ever measuring a thing. Congrats. I did see one person said 200g of protein minimum but scoffed at measuring his/her carbs and fat. Kinda hypocritical, right? I wasn't so fortunate. I followed the zone in the beginning and used it as a tool to measure food intake/quality vs performance. I made tweaks (pretty much skinned the zone) and I'm please with my results and feel great. Personally, I wouldn't have been able to get to that result as quickly without measuring something. Oh and I did the zone/skinned the zone without paying a penny to Dr. Sears or to Crossfit or to Robb Wolf.

But as the saying goes: "Opinions are like a$$holes, everyone's got one."


replied to comment from MATT CHAN

Awesome, thanks!


wrote …

I think these videos are great and very helpful. In 2 hours they were able to prepare most of what they would eat for the next week. How awesome is that? I made the Chan Chili about a week ago and it was great. I doubled the salsa so that I got all of my carb blocks, and I ran out of olives so I added some slivered almonds. I will be making this again in the future for sure. Can't wait to try the chicken salad recipe.

I have just went back to the Zone in the last month. I had gained about 7 pounds of bad weight even though I've been training nonstop. I've already dropped the extra weight, and my body fat is back down to where it should be. I've hit some recent PRs and I just feel better in general.


wrote …

Great job on the videos, only thing is, you have to let the hot food cool before putting them in the refrigerator. Doing so while hot can allow bacteria to grow. I noticed the condensation on the tupperware. Keep up the hard work guys.


wrote …

I am new to Zone only having been on it for 6 weeks now - and learning something new about it every week. The Chan's videos have brought a new understanding to cooking Zone meals - BIG THANK YOU!! I made the chili recipe today and it turned out awesome!! Now more than ever I am excited about cooking and discovering new recipes!


wrote …

Hello All,

I wrote a blog post about this awesome recipe!! Thought I would share, I added my own twist. I love the zone diet, feel amazing and performance is through the roof!!

Take Care,


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