Chicken Apple Salad (Not as Dull as It Sounds)

Chicken Apple Salad… I am not scoring any winning points with that title, am I?

Hear me out: This is a delicious recipe that offers full satisfaction, great nutrition and pretty colors on the plate. What else do you want?

I consume about 1,700-2,000 calories daily (except on those days I drink wine) and this makes a phenomenal dinner or lunch. The dish tastes fresh and it fills up a plate. So, you get the satisfaction of good taste, volume and color.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 1- to 2-inch thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 small apples (any kind… I use one granny smith and a sweeter kind for the other), sliced thin (no need to peel)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced and zest
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil (reduce this to 1 Tbsp if you are watching fat grams)
  • 1 Tbsp. mixed nuts (OPTIONAL… The nutrition facts assume you are using them… hence the higher fat content. Skip if fat gram conscious)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Soak the chicken in the water with the baking soda for 15-20 minutes. This will make the chicken ridiculously tender. Baking soda soak is the secret to the tender meats in Chinese restaurants. They soak their meats in soda (sounded dirty, didn’t it?) for at least an hour to achieve than silky yet crunchy taste. For the soak to work, the chicken has to be in small bite size chunks. So do not get lazy. If you have a full hour to soak, you can reduce the baking soda to 1 tsp instead.

Rinse the chicken well.  Pat dry.

Spray a non-stick pan with oil and heat until hot on medium heat. Cook the chicken until well done, approximately 8-10 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, mix the lime juice, zest, jalapeno, olive oil in a small bowl to make the dressing.

Combine the chicken, all other ingredients in a large bowl and then toss with dressing. Serves 2.

Here are the nutrition facts, courtesy of the recipe calculator at SparkPeople:

 

Chicken Apple Salad nutrition facts

Chicken, Almond and Apricot Savory Pie

Interesting and somewhat out of the ordinary side dish for a brunch or lunch, this pastry works well to complement egg dishes and/or salads with tangy vinaigrette. I make this about once a year. I think it is a bit dangerous to do it often (high fat content) so thread carefully. It surely looks pretty.

Chicken, Almond and Apricot Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped to small cubes
  • 3 fresh or 1/4 c dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
  • 12 sheets of phyllo dough
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh chives, chopped for garnish

Put the bulgur in a bowl with 1/2 cup of boiling water; set aside to soak 5-10 minutes.

Heat two tablespoons of the butter in a pan and gently saute the onion and chicken until lightly browned, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the apricots, almonds, bulgur and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the cinnamon, allspice, yogurt and the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch oven-safe dish, with olive oil or canola oil. Melt the remaining butter.

Unroll the dough. Keep the pastry sheets covered with a clean, damp towel to avoid drying.

Line the dish with six of the sheets, brushing each one with butter as you layer them. Spoon in the chicken mixture and cover with six more pastry sheets, brushing each layer with butter as you go. Bake the pastry for 30 minutes or so (no more than that), until pastry is golden brown and crisp like in the pictures here.

You can serve this hot or cold. Dress up the slices with chives. Makes 6 generous servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Kapuska (Cabbage with Rice, Chicken Breast and Bell Peppers)

Cabbage. I grew up hating it. With a passion. The stench of boiling cabbage. Reheated cabbage. Anything cabbage. Then one day in 2008, I craved it. Not sure where it came from. Maybe there was some cabbage in the weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery. I searched online for recipes (specifically the Turkish dish I was craving, called Kapuska) and I came across at least 200 different recipes. Some with rice, some with beef, others with bulgur. After trying a few versions, I made up my own. I replaced the beef with ground turkey breast or chicken breast. I settled on rice. I went for a one-pot type of solution, rather than boiling the cabbage ahead and then cooking it even more afterwards.

Earlier this summer, there were a string of cabbage deliveries with our CSA boxes so I went back to the old favorite. I made it 20/20 Lifestyles appropriate. I love how it turned out.

Kapuska (Turkish recipe for Cabbage with Rice, Bell Peppers and Ground Turkey Breast, 20/20 appropriate)

Ingredients

  • A small head of cabbage, any variety (use half of red, half of green for a more colorful dish)
  • 16 oz chicken breast, boneless, roughly cut into chunks (if not available, use ground turkey breast)
  • 2 bell peppers, red or orange or a combination, roughly chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, grated (if not available, use half a cup of canned crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 Tbsps hot red pepper paste, (use tomato paste if not available)
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown rice,
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste– OPTIONAL. DO NOT USE IF ON 20/20
  • 1 Tbsps red chili flakes, 1 tablespoon – OPTIONAL
  • Thick yogurt, for serving – OPTIONAL

In a 6-quart pan or a dutch oven, combine all ingredients (except optional items and items for serving such as thick yogurt). Let cook, covered on medium-low heat for 40 minutes. At the end of the period, mix the dish with a wooden spoon to “test done-ness” of cabbage. It should be translucent and soft. If not ready, cook on low heat for another 20 minutes or so. The rice should be firm but not hard. Adjust seasoning. Serve with thick, non-fat Greek yogurt, if desired.

Note: I know, I know. It sounds crazy. I am not used to just dumping ingredients into a pot and walking away. But it works.

Makes 6 servings.

The nutritional information (without the yogurt):

Grilled Chicken Breast in Honey Lime Marinade

This is something Rich made and it is really really good. The marinade is simple and goes a long way and low calories mean you can eat honey and feel good too.

Grilled Chicken Breast in Honey Lime Marinade

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • Fresh mint, chopped, to taste
  • 36 oz chicken breast, skinless and boneless

Mix the first three ingredients to make the marinade. Wash and pat dry the chicken and put them in a gallon size freezer bag. Pour in the same bag the marinade. Move the chicken around in the bag to make sure they are coated with the marinade. Close the bag and let it sit on the counter for 20-40 minutes. Or you can refrigerate overnight.

Heat the grill. Grill the chicken until it is done, about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serves 6.

Here are the nutritional facts, thanks to SparkPeople Recipe Calculator:

chicken with honey and lime juice nutritional facts

Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is a wholesome WeightWatchers recipe that provides a good carb and protein balance and a lot of tasty, filling food. Great for lunch or a light dinner. Some amazing foods in WeightWatchers recipe books by the way. In general. They mostly need a bit of tweaking to make them what they should be: tasty. However this one is special. It needed very little changing.

 

Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers (20/20 compatible)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4-5 large bell peppers, tops sliced off (remove green handle but keep the top), cleanedgo for various colors if you like pretty
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, diced into tiny chunks
  • 1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade or low-fat/low-sodium
  • 1 Tbsps Caraway seeds (or cumin seeds) – OPTIONAL
  • 2 Tbsps Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbsps slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbsps dried raisins, – OPTIONAL, DO NOT USE IF ON 20/20
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Red chili flakes to taste – OPTIONAL

In a 2-qt pan, mix 2 cups of water with the quinoa; bring to boil. Then simmer for 10-15 minutes until water is all sooaked and quinoa is cooked to taste.

Fill a 5-6 quart pan with water, bring to boil. Cook the bell peppers and the tops for 3 minutes. Immediately drain peppers and wash with cold water to stop cooking. This process loosen the peppers (but no so loose that they tear) so you can stuff more in them. The circular tops you cleaned and kept will serve as ‘hats.’

IMG_6587Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit (350 if using convection). Spray a 4-5 quart pan with oil and set on medium heat. Saute onions until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Than add celery and cook for another 2. Then add the chicken. Break it down with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5-8 minutes until chicken starts browning.

Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to pan, along with the mustard and the caraway seeds if you are using them. Stir occasionally, until the juices become glaze-like. Add black pepper, salt (and red chili flakes) if using to taste.

Remove from heat. Mix in the quinoa and the almonds.

Stuff each pepper with the mixture. Use a spoon to press down so you can maximize the amount of stuffing each pepper gets. Place one of the tops on each pepper. Do this until you run out of peppers. If you are using small or medium peppers, you may need more than 4.

If you are using just 4 large peppers, then arrange the stuffed peppers in a 9×9 inch oven-safe glass dish. Fill the bottom of the dish with the remaining half of the chicken broth.

Bake for 30 minutes. If using a convection oven, I recommend you switch around the side facing the fan midway through the baking time.

NOTES:

  • You can use ground chicken breast in place of the chicken breast. You can use ground turkey or ground chicken as well but those tend to have more calories and fat.
  • Instead of quinoa, you can use barley, faro or any other grain.
  • The raisins are a nice touch, but they are also high on sugar so I do not use them.

Here is the nutritional information on this dish, courtesy of Spark People’s recipe calculator (http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp). This particular recipe  is based on using chicken breast, no raisins, homemade broth and 4 massive bell peppers (2 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange) from Costco:

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