Eating healthy starts with planning. If you don’t plan your meals in advance, you run the risk of eating what’s quick and available, and usually unhealthy.
When I first began this journey, I started meal planning. I usually do my grocery shopping on Saturdays, starting with the Hub City Farmers’ Market for fresh, local produce and then hitting up Aldi for additional vegetables, then finish at Publix for fresh meat options.
Chicken has been a staple in my kitchen my entire life. Growing up I would ask to eat chicken nightly, to the displeasure of my sister who was a vegetarian in high school.
My go-to meal at that time was breaded, roasted chicken — a healthier fried chicken, basically. I still make this quite often.
But breadcrumbs aren’t the healthiest option. I found a recipe recently using a mixture of pine nuts (I substituted walnuts, since I had them in my pantry), cornmeal, baking powder, almond flour, coconut flour, along with spices and herbs. The mixture led to a nuttier flavor on the outside of the chicken. I appreciated the change.
In my experience, baked chicken dries out easily, but this breading kept the chicken moist.
Another way I love chicken is pan roasted. For this application, I like to coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and season the chicken simply with salt and pepper. After searing on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, I flip the chicken and put a lid on the pan. I let the chicken cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the thickest part of the breast registers at 165 degrees with a meat thermometer.
An easy way to meal prep for the week is cook your meats on Sunday afternoon for use throughout the week. For the breaded chicken application, you can reheat the chicken in an oven for a quick chicken parmesan, using healthy store-bought sauce or homemade marinara. For the pan roasted chicken, you can toss cold chicken with Greek yogurt, walnuts, scallions and red grapes for a healthy chicken salad.
These are two of my favorite options for reheating the chicken, but other options include chicken tacos, chicken noodle soup, chicken fried rice, gumbo or chili, you can turn leftover chicken into many other dishes.
2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon cornmeal
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg white
4 (4 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place walnuts and cornmeal in a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely ground.
Combine mixture with onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, sea salt, baking powder, almond flour, coconut flour and cheese in a shallow dish; mix well.
Combine buttermilk and egg white in a shallow dish; whisk to blend.
Dip each chicken breast into the buttermilk mixture, then dredge into walnut mixture until evenly coated.
Heat olive oil in large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
Add chicken breasts; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip.
After flipping, place skillet in oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the meat registers at 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast with a meat thermometer.
— Adapted from the “FIXATE” cookbook
— R. Keith Hatchell is a multimedia copy editor at the Herald-Journal. You can reach him at email@example.com.