Most of us visualize rows and rows of lunch containers loaded up with dry chicken breasts and broccoli when we hear the words “nutrition plan.” Yep, it’s true that we fit gals rely on chicken breasts quite often as an easy and accessible source of lean protein. But no, it doesn’t have to be super boring.
To increase the odds of sticking your meal plan, take advantage of the versatility of the chicken breast. Here are a seven options for interesting and delicious chicken dinners that are nutritious, low carb and delicious.
Crock Pot Quick Preps
Your crock pot is a valuable tool when you’re a busy prepper. It can be a great last-minute solution to get you through a busy week. Chicken with sauce or seasoning can be chucked into your crockpot in the morning on your way out the door and left to simmer until you come home in the evening. They make great proteins for dinners that can be flexed from high to low carb depending on your plan. And - BONUS! - these recipes will keep the rest of the family happy, too.
Mexican Shredded Chicken: Add a container of your favorite salsa or a can of diced tomatoes and chilis in with your pack of chicken breasts (about 2 pounds). Leave it to simmer on low for the day or on high for just 2-3 hours until it easily pulls apart with a fork. Spice it up with some low-sodium taco seasoning, just salt and pepper, or your favorite southwest blend of spices, to taste. Serve it over your favorite beans, on a salad, as nacho topping and taco filling, on enchiladas or stuffed into peppers. Be creative and keep in mind, you can always set up multiple options for your family. You get to stay on track AND still keep dinner fun for the kids or other folks you’d like to share a meal with.
Italian Shredded Chicken: Same technique as above but sub low-sugar pasta sauce for the salsa. This is fabulous over whole wheat pasta or spiraled vegetables. It’s is great even on its own! Layer it on as filling for a lasagna using zucchini sliced (slice them vertically to sub for noodles) or pasta, depending on your carb limitations. Again, you can provide multiple options at the same meal! It’s always great to be able to eat to stay on track and not feel like you’re imposing your stricter choices onto your family.
Boneless, Wingless, Hot Wing Chicken: Load up your chicken in the crock pot with some wing sauce and serve it with celery and bleu cheese dressing, just like you would for your wings! You can even fill the celery with the meat to make finger food for the kids. If you like cayenne pepper, add some to more to the sauce as a great fat burner. Bonus! This one is great as an appetizer and a bring-along to parties. Bringing a dish to pass is a good way to ensure there is on-plan food available for at other people's gatherings. It’s really the best way to avoid needless cheats during holiday party season.
BBQ Shredded Chicken: Pick your favorite low-sugar bbq sauce and put in enough to cover your chicken in the crock pot. This can be served with whatever veggie you like, loaded into a whole wheat bun, or alongside cornbread. Who doesn’t love BBQ?
The Chicken or the Egg? How about both?!
Let’s face it: dry chicken can be tough to get down after a while. By adding chicken to your egg dishes, you can renew the leftover grilled and seasoned chicken from dinner. You get great amounts of protein in your meals and the flavor combo options are fantastic! All of these chicken mixture variations can be used as omelette filling, quiche or frittata add-ins, or mixed into your muffin-tin to make mini frittatas! These are great for any meal of the day because they store, freeze, travel and reheat really well.
For mini-frittata cups: grease your tin with spray, fill the cups with about ¼ cup of mixture and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
Bruschetta Chicken: Make your favorite bruschetta recipe and add in your desired amount of diced grilled chicken. You can throw in some fresh mozzarella or low-fat shredded cheese for extra flavor. Use this mix as a fill for an omelette or mix into your eggs or whites to make your frittata mixture. As with any great recipe for your plan, it can be modified to help you get in what you need to hit your numbers. Top with fresh basil and a balsamic reduction, you’ll feel like you’re at a fancy brunch.
Mushroom and Asparagus Chicken: Briefly sauté mushrooms and asparagus in a splash of olive oil, just to soften. Add the chicken at the end, just to add some heat and then use as you would any other filling. In this recipe, you can use any of your favorite vegetables. It’s a great way to get in your greens. Keep in mind that things like tomatoes and spinach don’t need to be pre-cooked, but your garlic, onions, peppers and other harder vegetables need just a quick toss in a hot pan to soften them a bit before you add them to your eggs and cook.
Southwest Chicken: Mix grilled and diced chicken with some salsa and fill away! Consider adding in freshly diced tomatoes, chilis, onions, black beans, corn and/or cilantro. It’s a fun way to bring fresh and bright flavors to lighten up boring chicken and eggs.