Chicken For Dinner: Healthy & Easy Recipes
Chicken can be a healthy staple in your weekly dinner menu. However, its taste can be a little on the bland side.
I used to add a lot of salt to every chicken dish I made, hoping to add interest. But I ended up tasting just the salt. Then I discovered the fun of using herbs and spices.
As I started using different seasonings, I pulled back on salt, and hardly ever add it now. I've tried to make other changes to improve the overall nutrition of each meal too.
Over time I've settled on the easiest ways to prepare certain dishes. I don't have the time to make a gourmet feast, especially on weeknights. So I really appreciate having some "express" recipes that are rich in taste!
Flavor Boosts for Chicken
- Using herbs and spices is the easiest way to heighten the natural flavor of chicken. Try herbs like basil, sage, thyme, parsley, cilantro and tarragon. Spices ranging from ginger to fennel seeds can add new character to a familiar recipe.
- Use three different seasonings at the most in any one dish to avoid overwhelming the chicken. Following a recipe at first will help you learn which seasonings you prefer. Then you can find your own combinations.
- Timing makes a difference when adding seasonings. Whole spices and fresh herbs need to be added early in the cooking process while dry, ground herbs and spices should be added near the end.
- Marinating is a great method to flavor chicken. Usually made with just a couple of ingredients, marinades can be adjusted to match your tastes. Try olive oil and lime juice with cumin and cilantro for some spicy Mexican. Oil with oregano, basil and some red pepper flakes creates a zesty Italian marinade or dressing.
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Recipe: Chicken Cacciatore
This one-pot meal will satisfy your taste buds while nurishing your body! An hour of cooking time will produce enough for 2 meals for 4 people.
Package of 8 chicken thighs
3 Tbs olive oil
1 tbsp butter (optional)
1 can whole tomatoes, with juice
1 tsp dried parsley
pepper to taste
3 tsp flour
3 tsp water
1 package baby bella mushrooms
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter (if using). Remove the skins from the chicken thighs and place them in the pot. Brown the meat on both sides, doing it in batches if necessary.
When all the chicken is browned, return all the thighs to the pot and add the tomatoes, basil, parsley and pepper. Simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.
Mix the flour and water together. Test the chicken with a fork and knife for doneness. When it is tender, add the mixture to the pot, along with the mushrooms. Stir to blend. The broth will thicken after a couple of minutes.
Serve with spaghetti or linguini and salad or a cooked green vegetable.
Nutritional highlights -
- olive oil (for heart, digestion and bone health, plus caner-protecting agents)
- mushrooms (source of calcium Vitamin D, selenium, niacin, and other nutrients)
Recipe: Chicken Fajitas
The great thing about this meal is that you can prep it in little bits of time during the day, or all at once. The cooking time is really fast, and that's how the food will disappear too!
Package of 4-5 chicken breasts
1 green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
8-10 flour tortillas
Extra fillings - (just a couple of ideas to start you off) diced tomatoes, shredded cheddarcheese, olives, sliced avocado
For the marinade -
1 1/2 cups lime juice (fresh or bottled)
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
Several hours before: Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Pound the chicken to flatten, then place the breasts into the marinade. Let it sit covered in the fridge for 3-6 hours.
To cook: Heat a cast iron skillet or regular pan to high heat. While waiting, put the chicken into a colander to drain the marinade off. Cut it into long thin slices.
Put a teaspoon of olive oil into the pan and add the green pepper and onion. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until they are tender, then remove to a bowl. Put the chicken in the pan and cook until it is browned. Make sure the pan is very hot (you'll see smoke rising as the chicken cooks) so that the chicken cooks quickly and the flavor is sealed in without adding extra oil.
Serve with the tortillas and the other fixings, and add some spanish or rice and refried beans.
- oregano (high in antioxidants),
- garlic (potential cancer-preventive qualities),
- cilantro and cumin (for digestive health)