Who wants to spend less time in the kitchen? Almost everyone I know. We are a fast-paced society, looking for recipes that are simple, convenient, delicious, healthy, and…easy! Before you settle for a frozen dinner, see how easy it is to use fresh ingredients to create your own dynamic meal. These seven recipes are right out of my recipe box and family favorites (yes, I am a vegetarian, but my family loves chicken). Use organic free-range chicken if possible. It takes only 30 minutes to create a low calorie chicken dinner your whole family will love.
1. Chicken Quesadillas
If you are using fresh chicken, broil for about 6 minutes on each side, cool and shred.
- 1 pound skinless boneless cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed
- ¼ teaspoon organic olive oil
- 1 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
- 12 – 8 inch whole grain tortillas
- 1 pint fresh salsa of your choice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine chicken, olive oil, cheddar cheese, and salsa. Divide the mixture between 12 tortillas. Fold and seal by moistening tortilla edges with water. Place the tortillas on a backing sheet. Bake for six minutes. Serve with fresh salad, Spanish rice, or refried beans. Top with sour cream, guacamole (yum), or toppings of your choice. Makes 12 servings.
2. Simply Grilled Flatbread Pizzas
A family gathering favorite, you kids will have fun helping you create this pizza.
- 6 pieces flatbread
- 2 cups thinly sliced skinless cooked grilled chicken
- ¾ cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 5 fresh leaves basil finely chopped
- 2 cups freshly grated provolone cheese
- 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
- Salt/pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients into a bowl, leaving flatbread aside. Heat the grill to low heat. Place the flatbread on the grill. Spread the mixture over flatbread. When the cheese has melted, it is ready to enjoy (doesn’t take long to heat). Cut into slices and serve. Makes six servings.
3. Husband’s Favorite Low-Cal Chicken
You can use the mayonnaise of your choice for this recipe. Try Trader Joe’s Wasabi Mayonnaise as an option.
- 5 skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into halves
- 1 ¼ cup mayonnaise (or to make it even more low-cal, use silken tofu)
- ¾ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder (leave out if you use Wasabi)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix mayo, garlic, and cheese. Coat chicken breast with mixture and place in a non-stick baking dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken breasts. Serve with fresh steamed broccoli and chunky cooked carrots. Makes five servings.
4. Easy Chicken Salad
This is a favorite brunch or lunchtime go-to. Use two cups frozen diced chicken (or leftover chicken) and add a dollop of your favorite low-fat yogurt. Add diced celery (to taste), ¼ cup poppy seed salad dressing, ¼ cup red grapes, and ½ cup roasted pecans. Salt/pepper to taste.
To create a tropical version, add chopped pineapple vs. grapes, and macadamia nuts vs. pecans. Mix in ¼ cup fresh shredded coconut for a summertime favorite. Serve chilled with your favorite pita chips or melba toast. This makes a light evening meal with a glass of red wine.
5. August Caesar Salad
This is a low-cal version of the higher-calorie Caesar. Use silken tofu for a creamy salad vs. mayo.
- 1 pound skinless boneless chicken, cooked and diced
- 8 cups freshly chopped romaine lettuce
- ½ cup silken tofu, softened
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ¼ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ¼ teaspoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved
- 3/ 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- A squeeze of one lemon
- Fat-free croutons, if desired
- Salt/pepper to taste
In a blender, combine tofu, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Blend until creamy. In a large bowl, toss croutons, lettuce, Parmesan and dressing. Divvy salad into four portions, adding chicken on top of salad. Serve with fresh tangelo wedges, if desired. Serves four.
6. Super Easy Low-Cal Pesto Chicken
Purchase organic all the way for a healthy version of a classic chicken dish. Serve with green beans and cooked carrots for a beautiful meal.
- 1 pound cooked boneless skinless organic chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons Sweet Basil Pesto Sauce
- ½ cup finely crushed Kashi Simply Maize Corn cereal
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat both sides of chicken breasts with pesto sauce. Roll in crushed corn cereal. Place on a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
7. Favorite Chicken and Rice
A low-cal favorite, use brown rice for a healthier version.
- 8 ounces cooked brown rice
- ¾ fresh (or frozen, thawed) peas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound fresh organic cooked skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into strips
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced toasted almonds
In a large skillet, add cooked brown rice, peas, chicken strips, olive oil, and soy sauce. Heat for 3 minutes, stirring until evenly heated. Remove from heat, serve with toasted almonds as a garnish. Makes three servings.