Ahh…that’s better. I don’t know about you, but to me it’s always somewhat of a relief to return to normal after the holiday crazies. A typical routine, no reason to wear heels and an absence of egg nog. It was fun while it lasted. And now it’s over. Yes, this is what the doctor ordered.
As I’m settling back into our version of “normal,” I am slowly returning to habits that get me through a week of packing lunch boxes and putting nourishing meals on the table. Earlier this week, I stocked up on staples – chicken breasts, bananas for smoothies, greens for salad (and smoothies), avocados. These are the foods of “normal.”
I roasted four large bone-in chicken breasts with skin (more flavor) so we’d have plenty of lean meat for the week. I rubbed the chicken breasts with a couple tablespoons of this savory herb blend moistened with a bit of olive oil. Then I lined a baking sheet with parchment, set the chicken on it and popped it in the oven for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. When cool enough to handle, I removed the skin and pulled the meat from the bones (which were then bagged and frozen for my next batch of chicken stock). If you prefer to work with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poaching is your best bet. I’ve outlined how to do that here.
With a few cups of moist, perfectly cooked chicken breasts on hand, the options are many. A few of my favorites:
- Tacos (pictured above) – so easy you don’t even need a recipe. Warm flour or corn tortillas. Top with chicken and anything else you like: thinly sliced red onion, avocado, black beans, sour cream (I use Greek yogurt), cilantro, a sprinkle of ancho chili or pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika). Add a squeeze of lime and serve. Smile.
- Salads – lean strips of chicken round out almost any salad and make it a meal. Add chicken to this quinoa salad for a protein-packed punch or add it to Amanda’s radish and pecan grain salad.
- Soups – add shredded chicken to soup after all other ingredients are cooked. Heat through and serve. Try this coconut lime soup or chicken soup with wild rice.
- Casserole – okay, I hate the word casserole. It reminds me of gooey, cheese-laden dishes served at a church potluck. I might hate the work potluck even more than the word casserole. Anyway, if you have cooked chicken to spare, ignore the nomenclature and consider this chicken and orzo casserole.
- For the lunch box, stuff strips of chicken inside a whole grain pita with a few leaves of lettuce and the condiment of your choice. Or roll them up in a wrap with crisp veggies and salad dressing.
Wishing you a balanced, happy and healthy 2014!