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A Quick and Tasty Chicken Dish for Dieting

Fresh Chicken

Here’s the conundrum: I needed to make a filling, tasty, protein-laden dish that minimized carbs and calories. Something where even eating seconds wouldn’t blow out the calorie count for my wife’s weight-loss efforts. (Me, I’m the perfect size, of course. But I’m going along, just to support wifey.)

I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money in the grocery store. Nor did I want to burn a lot of time in the kitchen. Here’s my solution…

I took two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into bite-sized chunks. I put the meat with a quarter-cup of lemon juice, some dried herbs de Provence, white pepper and minced garlic. I chopped up a bit of cilantro. This all went into a zippered plastic bag; I squeezed out the air, sealed the bag and mixed the contents, then refrigerated for an hour or so.

When it came time to put the dish together I started the oven at 350 degrees F. I had a couple of small potatoes on the counter, so I scrubbed and sliced them into 1/8-inch thick rounds. I left the skin on for extra nutrition. I put a couple teaspoons of olive oil in the bottom of a glass baking dish, then I spread that around to coat the whole dish. I opened a can of petite-diced tomatoes from the pantry, then I combined the tomatoes with the marinated chicken which I fished out of the marinade with a slotted spoon. I discarded the marinade; it had done its work. Then I stirred some finely diced red onion in with the chicken. Finally I chopped up about half a bunch of cilantro and stirred that into the chicken mix as well.

I made a layer of potato rounds on the bottom of the baking dish, and seasoned those with a pinch of salt and some white pepper. I scattered some of the chicken mixture over the potatoes, then repeated the layers. Finally I sprinkled about a quarter cup of lemon juice over the whole shebang, covered the dish with foil, and baked for 40 minutes; just until the potatoes were tender to a fork.

While the chicken was cooking I made a simple salsa cruda, from tomatoes we bought at the farmers market, a couple jalapeño peppers, red onion, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, salt and white pepper. I covered the mixing bowl and popped it into the fridge to chill while we waited.

When the baking was over I removed the foil and scattered a couple ounces of grated Parmesan cheese over the top of the dish. Back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so, to settle the cheese. Then I let the dish rest a few minutes before serving.

This was a great-tasting dish! I really liked a big helping of the salsa on top, with the cool contrasting with the hot chicken and potatoes. The chile heat was pleasant too. PJ ate hers “unadorned” and pronounced it outstanding. Normally I don’t think of chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, cilantro and lemon juice as a medley of flavors to combine. Sure worked this time! Okay, the flavor profile is somewhat Italian, with maybe a Spanish overlay. Whatever you want to call it, we enjoyed it immensely.

What about the nutrition? Assuming I had six servings, each one would be about 200 calories (or 220 with a nice dollop of salsa), with fat of 3 g, fiber about 3 g, cholesterol of 35 mg, carbs about 20 g, and protein at 21 g. Right where I wanted it…

Enjoy the (Tasty Lo-Cal Casserole) Heat!

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