breaking bread is a universal ritual that brings us together. a good meal has the power to heal us, body and soul. all my cooking comes from the heart.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

easy chicken and spinach dishes

Sautéed baby spinach with garlic, avocado, and grilled chicken. Delish! All-in about 560 calories (6 oz baby spinach, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp garlic, half Haas avocado, 5 oz grilled chicken breast, salt and pepper to taste). It's just protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling sated. Because I had the chicken prepped in the fridge already, this dinner took all of 5 minutes to make. It isn't just easy for me to eat right, especially because I love to cook and to eat. It is very hard to make healthy portions for one and sometimes it makes me sad not to have someone to cook for, so I don't put the same effort into cooking for myself that I do for others (uh, yeah, I'm a stupid girl sometimes!).

If I could keep fresh (or frozen) veggies in my boat icebox-turned-fridge easily, I would definitely be getting more bright, colorful veggies and especially dark, leafy greens in my diet. But bagged baby spinach does do pretty well if I use it up quickly and I can easily eat a bag myself at any given meal. I just heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or wok, sauté some chopped garlic in it, and then toss in half the bag, stir it as it cooks down, and then toss in the other half. I learned this super-quick, tasty technique when I was cooking Brazilian food all the time. Collard greens, couve in Portuguese, are very popular in Brazil, especially Minas Gerais. You lay all the big leaves flat and create a stack, then you roll them very tight, and slice from the end of the roll, making thin collard green "spaghetti." You heat olive oil in a large pot very hot, toss in the sliced collards, and then throw in salt to taste. Much healthier and nutritious than American southern style collards, that's for sure. While I skip slicing the spinach up, larger spinach leaves or other tougher greens will do well with that technique. The best thing about this side dish is you can have it ready in about 3 minutes! It only takes 4 ingredients and it's  packed full of nutrition. 

Here's another yummy chicken and spinach dish... I just sautéed up the spinach as usual, crumbled 2 ounces of light feta on top (half the calories but all the taste), and then topped it with the chopped grilled chicken. It's easy to add whatever other veggies you like; I can see going Greek with some oregano, red onion and, as one friend suggested, olives. If you come up with a good variation share it as a comment!

The other thing I like to have on hand for a quick and simple meal is grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast. If there is a Fresh Market near you, (I think they are along the US Eastern Seaboard from the mid-Atlantic to Florida), they have amazing plump chicken breasts on sale for just $2.99 per pound on Tuesdays. I generally buy two or three pairs of breasts and just have to separate them and trim only the slightest bit off (you will never want to eat Perdue or Tyson chicken again once you've had real, healthy stuff). I take a gallon Ziploc bag, add a few tablespoons of olive oil, lemon or lime juice if I have it, a couple tablespoons of chopped garlic, salt (pink Himalayan, sea, or Kosher), and fresh ground pepper. Then I put the chicken breasts in, zip the bag up, and massage the marinade all over to evenly coat the chicken. I just toss the bag in the fridge for one to three days and then grill it all up at once. Once it's grilled I chop it all up and either measure out 5 ounce portions or put it in a large container or Ziploc and measure out what I need during the week. The chicken is easy to heat up, or it's delicious cold with some tzatiki sauce, on a salad, or whatever. The options are only limited by your own palate and creativity.