Chicken Again? Yes!
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Fitness

Chicken Again? Yes!

Eating lean protein like chicken can help you lose weight -- and make your mouth water. Try these healthy recipes.

Southwestern Chicken Stir-Fry

In 99.9 percent of our weight-loss success stories, women say that eating chicken helped them lose. We reinvented this diet classic to make it anything but blah -- in fact, these recipes are downright delicious.

The average American eats almost 58 pounds of chicken per year. With just 142 calories and 3 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving of white meat, it's no wonder that it's our go-to diet food.

Safe Food Tips

  • The best way to know when chicken is done is to use a food thermometer. Place it in the thickest part of the chicken breast; when it reads 165 degrees F., dinner is ready.
  • Chicken needs to stay cold to prevent the growth of bacteria, so make it the last item you pick up at the grocery store before heading to the checkout line.

Southwestern Chicken Stir-Fry

Serve this flavorful stir-fry in warm flour tortillas or over a bed of mixed greens.

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1- to 1-1/2-ounce envelope fajita seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Cooking oil spray
  • 1 medium yellow or green sweet pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced on the bias
  • 1/2 small onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 2/3 cup salsa
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas (optional)
  • 6 cups mixed greens (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Co-Jack cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine fajita mix, water, and oil in a medium mixing bowl. Add chicken to marinade; stir to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat a large wok coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add peppers, zucchini and onion; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Set aside.
  3. Drain chicken; discard marinade. Add chicken to wok. (Add additional cooking oil if necessary to prevent sticking.) Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes, or until no longer pink. Return vegetables to wok. Stir together salsa and chili powder. Add salsa mixture, corn, and beans to wok. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving (not including cheese, greens, or tortillas): 191 calories, 20g protein, 18g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1g saturated), 2g fiber

Chicken with Chunky Vegetable Sauce

Juicy diced tomatoes, oregano, and artichoke hearts provide great taste as well as cancer protection and increased immunity in this Mediterranean-inspired dish.

Start to finish: 40 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers or 2 tablespoons chopped pitted ripe olives
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 cups hot cooked rice
  • Pitted ripe olives (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dip chicken in flour to coat. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook onion in hot oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir in garlic; push mixture to sides of pan. Add chicken. Cook 4 minutes, or until brown, turning once. Add tomatoes, artichokes, broth, and pepper; stir.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Remove chicken.
  4. Simmer tomato mixture, uncovered, about 3 minutes, or until reduced to desired consistency. Stir in capers and oregano. Serve the chicken over rice; top with sauce. If desired, garnish with olives.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: 341 calories, 33g protein, 36g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1g saturated), 5g fiber

Chicken and Penne with Basil Sauce

If fresh basil is unavailable, use another fresh herb instead, such as thyme or sage.

Start to finish: 25 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups packaged dried penne
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking oil spray
  • 1 medium red sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium yellow or green sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded
  • Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Stir together chicken broth, cornstarch, and black pepper. Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting oil and salt. Drain. Cover; set aside and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse chicken; pat dry. Cut into 1-inch cubes; set aside. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add peppers and garlic; stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender; remove. Add oil to skillet; increase heat to medium high. Add chicken; stir-fry for 4 minutes, or until tender and no longer pink.
  4. Stir broth mixture; add to skillet. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return peppers and garlic to skillet; add basil.
  5. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Toss with pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with additional fresh basil.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: 330 calories, 24g protein, 39g carbohydrate, 8g fat (1g saturated), 1g fiber

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables

For the best taste, look for balsamic vinegar that's been aged at least eight years.

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup bottled Italian salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces chicken breast tenderloins
  • 10 ounces asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces, or 10-ounce package frozen cut asparagus, thawed and well drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped

Instructions

  1. Stir together salad dressing, vinegar, honey, and crushed red pepper in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and cook chicken for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender and no longer pink, turning once. Remove chicken to serving dish; cover and keep warm.
  3. Add asparagus and carrot to skillet. Cook, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender; transfer to dish.
  4. Stir dressing mixture and add to skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Drizzle dressing over chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with tomato.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: 271 calories, 22g protein, 12g carbohydrate, 15g fat (2g saturated), 2g fiber

Chicken with New Mexican-Style Rub

Just five minutes of prep and you can pop this tasty dish into the oven.

Start to finish: 27 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon aniseed
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)

Instructions

  1. For rub, using a mortar and pestle, grind together oregano, thyme, coriander seed, and aniseed. Stir in chili powder, paprika, cracked black pepper, and salt. Set seasoning mixture aside.
  2. Rinse chicken; pat dry. With your fingers, rub some of the seasoning mixture onto both sides of chicken breast halves.
  3. Place chicken on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender and no longer pink, turning once.

(Store leftover seasoning in a cool, dry place and use within 6 months.)

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: 123 calories, 22g protein, 0g carbohydrate, 3g fat (1g saturated), 0g fiber

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2007.

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