MyPlate Meals: 5 Healthy Chicken Dinners
Chicken … again? Sure, it’s the one thing most of us pick up at the supermarket every week and usually always have in the fridge, and you may be a little bored with the same old bird. You bake it, fry it, grill it … and more than likely you’re running out of ideas on how to perk it up and make dinner feel special.
But it’s well worth expanding your chicken repertoire: chicken is one lean protein, and a keystone for healthy, low-fat dinners. And its mild flavor works like a charm with herbs, spices and even fruit sauces.
So before you throw in the towel along with the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, try these five fabulous MyPlate-inspired menus, with chicken at center stage. They’re low in calories (500 calories and under per serving), fat and sodium, and include plenty of veggies and fruits to make them complete, well-rounded meals. But most important of all: they’re bursting with flavor!
Dinner no. 1
When chicken breast ideas get tough, the tough get cooking. And here’s a recipe that you can prep before work and leave in the fridge to marinate in a rub of a little olive oil, paprika, rosemary and garlic. After popping it in the oven for 12 minutes, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar wakes the whole dish up. Roasting green beans is one of the simplest (and most low-fat) ways to keep their bright flavor.
And if you think potatoes are ho-hum, try these sassy new potatoes tossed with rosemary and chives. You can throw them on the grill or roast them in the oven, depending on the season. This combo is a wealth of protein, vitamins and fiber — and is just plain good eating.
Dinner no. 2
Fans of one-pot meals, this one’s for you. And it’s a healthy classic, combining chicken drumsticks (for dark-meat lovers), peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots and more in a hearty herbed sauce. You can make it with white-meat chicken, of course, but keep in mind that the dark meat stays more moist when cooked for hours in the slow cooker.
Serve the cacciatore with a half-cup helping of brown rice or a cup of whole-grain pasta, and you still have a 500-calorie, good-for-you meal that practically cooks itself.
Dinner no. 3
Even kids who don’t love vegetables usually love fruit. It’s sweet, after all, and sweet is where it’s at. They’ll love this herb-roasted chicken topped with tart cherries in a sauce made naturally sweet with apple and lemon juice (you can skip the brandy in the recipe and substitute more apple juice).
To keep the sweet theme rolling, we serve a salad of greens and berries (or mandarin oranges, depending on the season). Even the dressing is made with orange juice (and fresh mint). Crunchy golden cornmeal dinner rolls give you the satisfaction without the fat, and are a mellow complement to the fruity goodness of this menu.
Dinner no. 4
with tropical fruit pops
This is our picnic-at-home feast. Combining bottled barbecue sauce with pantry ingredients like light mayonnaise and milk gives chicken the tang with a lovely creamy edge, and it keeps the meat ultra-moist. The slaw invites carrots and pears to join the crunchy mix (beefing up the fiber and vitamins as well).
And what would a picnic be without dessert? Easy fruit pops in banana, mango and pineapple flavors (made with orange juice concentrate) make this dinner chill in more ways than one.
Dinner no. 5
Chicken parm and fries … low fat? It’s easy when you start with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and let the flavor come from fresh basil, grape tomatoes and part-skim mozzarella instead of mountains of fatty cheese and an oil-soaked sauce. In this parm, the chicken, not the cheese, is the star.
Oven-frying big wedges of spuds, seasoned with oregano and thyme, brings all the satisfaction without the fat. And on the side, roasted red, yellow and green sweet peppers are tossed with a basil-infused vinaigrette to add a burst of color (and vitamin C) to the mix.
Eat better now! Recipe.com is excited to work with Let’s Move!, the Partnership for a Healthier America, and USDA’s MyPlate to give anyone looking for healthier options access to a trove of recipes that will help you to create healthy, tasty meals.