Showing posts with label diet chicken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label diet chicken. Show all posts

Monday, April 4, 2011

The 1,200 Calorie Nightmare & the 131 Calorie Solution

Last week, I had house guests coming for the weekend. I asked one of them if she wanted anything special to eat. She replied that she was on a 1,200 calorie a day diet.

Ack! That threw my cooking plans out the window. After some thought, it seemed that concentrating on fruits and vegetables would be the thing to do.

But there was a catch. She doesn't like most fruits and vegetables. On top of that, one of my other guests doesn't like some of the few fruits and vegetables that the first guest will eat.

No onions, peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, pineapple, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, beans, black-eyed peas, lima beans, squash, eggplant -- are you getting the picture?

I had planned to make MJ's Dinner Party Chicken but I suspected that ricotta cheese and breadcrumbs would ruin the calorie count. So I borrowed MJ's idea and hoped for the best.

I went straight to lemon to infuse my chicken breasts with flavor. After all, they couldn't have many calories! In addition I made liberal use of rosemary for more flavor without fat or calories. A plain 4 ounce chicken breast (yes, I weighed them) is 120 calories. There are a mere 61 calories in one cup of lemon juice, so the entire calorie count of lemon juice for the dish wouldn't have been more than 15 calories or so.

Like MJ, I made a slit in each chicken breast. I sprinkled each one with a different blend of spices (Penzey's Northwoods, Turkish, and Lamb seasonings) and added rosemary. Then I slid half a slice of lemon inside each chicken breast. Rosemary comes in at a whopping 2 calories per tablespoon, making it every dieter's best buddy for flavor.

I skipped browning of chicken to avoid the additional calories of oil. Instead, I squeezed more lemon on top of the chicken breasts and sprinkled them generously with rosemary. But I did add one teensy sliver (about 1/16th of a tablespoon = 6 calories) of butter to the inside of each breast as well. I'm including the picture to prove that I used very little butter -- just a whisper, really.

It turned out surprisingly well in spite of the lack of oil and other fats. The butter melted with the chicken juices, making a very tiny bit of sauce in the bottom of the pan. To be honest, the spices were almost lost since the lemon and rosemary were so dominant and delicious.

Diet Chicken Breast

3 chicken breasts
1 lemon
tiny bit of butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.

Cut a pocket into the side of each chicken breast. Sprinkle with your favorite spices and rosemary. Insert 1/2 a slice of lemon.

Squeeze half a lemon over top of the chicken breasts and sprinkle liberally with rosemary.

Bake 40 - 45 minutes. Pour juices in bottom of pan over chicken breasts to serve.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summertime Cherry Nectarine Chicken

A friend called me recently because she was looking for recipe ideas. Very specific recipe ideas. She comes home late and has to cook, but since it's late, she doesn't feel like starting up the grill. She wants dishes she can make fast, or even cook in advance so they're ready. She complained that it has become all too easy to swing by a takeout window, but that means eating food that isn't always healthy. She's looking for light summer fare, that is heart healthy and not loaded with fat.

Whew! Quite an order. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a shame to miss out on all the wonderful fresh fruits and veggies that summer offers.

So then there came a day when I was beat. I'd been out running errands all day. It was already late, and I didn't want to cook on the grill because the air felt like a sauna. While running those errands, I had picked up boneless chicken breasts, gorgeous cherries, and nectarines. Could I do something with those? My first thought was to grill the chicken and make a little cherry nectarine salsa to go with it. That, of course, brought the grill and the heat back into the picture, so I nixed that thought.

Could I make a cherry nectarine sauce for the chicken? I gave it a shot. Had I made this in the winter, I would have used frozen cherries, wouldn't have had nectarines, and would have added brandy and maybe some rosemary. But this time, even though I was cooking the fruit, I wanted to preserve that fresh fruit flavor of summer. To be honest, I wasn't sure it would work, but the chicken was, to quote my mother, "like butter" and the fruit sauce had that intense fresh fruity flavor I sought. This is super easy and very fast. And note that, except for the fat that naturally occurs in the chicken breast, there is no added fat. No oil, or butter, or cream, so it's very heart healthy but still packs a punch of flavor. BTW, I should mention that on these soupy summer days when we're all thinking of iced tea and ice cream, this chicken and sauce is pretty good cold, too!

Normally, it's advisable to pound chicken breasts to a uniform thickness so the narrow end doesn't dry out. I didn't bother, and frankly, it made no difference. My chicken breasts were fairly thick, though, so you may find you need a bit less cooking time.

Summertime Cherry Nectarine Chicken

1 1/2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
2 fresh nectarines
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water

3-4 boneless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice the nectarines and place in a large oven-safe pan with the cherries, balsamic vinegar and water. Bring to a boil and let simmer, uncovered, about ten minutes. The liquid should be a little bit thick.
Arrange the raw chicken breasts in the sauce, turning to coat. Cover the pan and slide into oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning once or twice and checking on doneness.
Slice each chicken breast and serve with the sauce.