January 15th 2012

Five easy, healthy, delicious chicken dinners

Post-holidays we always feel that sort of gluttony: heavy, full, bloated, all caused from a little bit of over indulgence.

But it’s easy to get back into the swing of things if we have some healthy dinner menus ready and waiting for us.

Here are five of our favorite easy to throw together, healthful and nutritious, and super delicious chicken dinners that are great for any day of the week.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more as needed
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers, cut into 1-inch strips
6 green onions, whites cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup snow peas, trimmed
Cooked brown jasmine rice, for serving
Chopped cashews, for serving

Put the honey, chili-garlic sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk together until well mixed.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper and add it to the skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Transfer the partially-cooked chicken to a plate. Keep the skillet on the heat.

Add the peppers, the whites of the green onions, and the snow peas to the man, adding more oil if necessary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken, and cook an additional minutes. Whisk the sauce again to avoid it settling. Pour it into the pan. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is tender, about 2 minutes. Serve over rice and sprinkle with the green onion greens and cashews.

Italian-Style Chicken

6 skinless chicken breast halves, bone-in
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, minced
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until it is browned on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan.

Add the peppers and prosciutto to the pan. Cook until the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Continue to cook, scraping the browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan, for about 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken back to the pan, along with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve.

Chicken and White Bean Chili

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, diced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 5 cups)
1 1/2 cups chopped green chile peppers
1 quart chicken stock
1 15-ounce can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Sour cream for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onion. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the chicken, cumin, oregano, white pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken is slightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add the chiles and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 20 minutes, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Stir in the beans and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Serve with the sour cream.

Chicken Noodle Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
Zest from one lemon
2 cups thinly sliced fennel, plus the tops of the fennel finely chopped
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 (2-3 inch) piece parmesan rind
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
Sea salt to taste
2 cups whole grain pasta
3 cups baby spinach, packed
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Lemon wedges for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken. Cook for 1 minute, until coated. Add the parsley, zest, and tops of the fennel. Add to the saucepan, along with the chicken stock, water, and parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to the chicken to a cutting board, and when it is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones in large pieces.

Meanwhile, add the fennel, carrots, and celery to the broth. Season with salt to taste. Simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the noodles and cook until just al dente, about 5 more minutes. Add the chicken strips, spinach, and parmesan. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Discard the cheese rind, and squeeze in lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken

Juice and 1 teaspoon zest of a lemon, divided
1/2 cup skim or nondairy milk
1/2 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus 2 whole sprigs
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 pounds bone-in skinless chicken legs and thighs
2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted and dried, then pulsed into coarse breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oil for coating the rack

Put the lemon juice, milk, honey or agave nectar, and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the rosemary sprigs and garlic. Pierce each piece of chicken about 5 times with a fork. Add the chicken to the milk mixture, turning to coat well. Cover and refrigerate, allowing to marinate  for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the bread crumbs, corn meal, Parmesan, chopped rosemary, lemon zest, and salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Mix well. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put a wire rack on top of the baking sheet. Coat lightly with oil.

After the chicken has marinated, remove it and let the excess drip off. Press it into the crumb mixture, until well coated. Put it on the rack on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Bake until the chicken is crisp and cooked through, about 50 to 55 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Andrew's Biography

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.