• Tommy Centola

Lighter recipes to try for healthier eating

The New Year is here and many people are trying to eat healthier. Lighter dishes and ingredients are often sought out. I often get asked for recipes for a healthier lifestyle. If your not a seafood lover, the best ingredient to feature here is chicken.

Chicken is one of the leanest proteins available. It is also very versatile in recipes and availability. It is impossible to go into a grocery store and not find chicken available. So today, I am sharing three chicken dishes, Chicken Belle Meuniere, Chicken Cacciatore and Roasted Chicken.

Here is a light Creole Italian chicken dish. The traditional New Orleans Meuniere sauce is loaded with butter. The sauce for this one is based with chicken stock, which has a lot less calories than one made with butter.

Chicken Belle Meuniere

4 boneless, skinless Chicken Breast

2 ounces Olive Oil

1 medium Onion, sliced

1 16-ounce can Artichoke Hearts, drained

3 cups Chicken Stock

1/4 teaspoon fresh Basil, chopped

1/4 teaspoon fresh Oregano, chopped

1 cup Milk

2 Eggs

1 cup Flour

Creole Seasoning

Beat together eggs and milk. Season flour with Creole seasoning. Dip each breast into egg wash and let drain. Dredge breast in flour and shake off excess. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook chicken until coating is golden brown. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add onions and artichokes to pan. Sauté lightly until onions are translucent. Add the chicken stock to the vegetables and simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat or until the stock has reduced by 2/3. Add basil and oregano to the sauce. Season with creole seasoning. Place a breast in a plate and ladle the sauce over each. Serve.

Cacciatore is translated as the Hunter’s way. This dish is an easy one to prepare so that hunters would be able to eat a delicious and quick meal. Because it is a quick meal, this dish is very popular in fire stations. So, if you are looking for a quick Italian meal, give this a try.

Chicken Cacciatore

1½ pounds Chicken Breast boneless, skinless and cut into ½ inch strips

1 medium Onion, julienned

1 medium Green Bell Pepper, julienned

2 cloves Garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 15-ounce can Tomato Sauce

1 14.5-ounce can Stewed Tomatoes

½ teaspoon Fresh Oregano chopped

1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning Blend

Hot Cooked Rice

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken, onions, bell pepper, and garlic in oil until chicken is lightly browned on both sides and vegetables are tender. Add the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and seasonings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes or until heated through. Serve over rice.

I know that these days it is easy to pick up a Rotisserie Chicken from Walmart to serve for dinner. On a busy day, I have been known to do this. However, roasting a chicken at home is a wonderful and simple meal. Lots of chefs test their new staff’s skills by having them roast a chicken. It is elemental but a good judge of skill.

Roasted Chicken

1 (3-5 pound) Whole Chicken, giblets removed and discarded

1 Lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning

1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme

1 medium Onion, quartered

4-6 cloves of Garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon Butter or Margarine, softened

Heat oven to 375 degrees ℉.

Rinse chicken inside and out with cold water; drain. Pat dry with paper towels. Grate 1 teaspoon peel from lemon; set aside. Cut lemon into slices. In small bowl, combine Creole Seasoning, thyme and lemon peel; mix well. Place lemon slices, onion quarters and garlic inside chicken. Loosely tie legs together. Place chicken, breast side up, in shallow roasting pan. Rub outside of chicken with margarine; sprinkle with thyme mixture. Bake at 375°F. for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until chicken is fork-tender and juices run clear, basting chicken with pan juices every 30 minutes. Outside of chicken will be dark golden brown. Cover with foil; let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The good news is that these dishes are not only for people looking to eat healthier. They are very tasty and great additions to any menu. It’s a bonus that they are also lighter dishes.

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