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Mediterranean Lentil- Chicken Bowls

I’m so excited to be back with a new post! Even though I’m pretty sure it’s just my mom and a few others that read this blog (Hi mom!), I love when I find a winning recipe that I can share. This one will be repeated for sure in our house. Despite Mr. Applebutter always being skeptical of lentils, he had seconds! I’ve been trying to work lentils into more dishes because they are an amazing source of fiber & protein with very little fat. Hence, a good replacement for meat on nights I’m trying to go vegetarian. However, I threw some leftover boneless chicken in this dish for added protein. So far I’ve done lentil taco’s and lentil soup, but I wanted to try something new this time. If you’re new to lentils, they are very easy to prepare so don’t be afraid to try them. Rinse them in a strainer and you’re set to go with however the recipe suggests that you cook them.

Enjoy!

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Mediterranean Lentil-Chicken Bowls- slightly adapted from Alida’s Kitchen

Serves: 4

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, plus 3 parsley sprigs (for cooking water)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

1/2 cup diced cucumber

1/2 cup feta cheese, divided

salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Honey Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook in slow cooker with 1/4 cup water on LOW for 6-8 hours until cooked through. Chop chicken and set aside.
  2. Boil 2 1/2 cups water in a medium pot. Once boiling, add 1 cup lentils, 3 parsley sprigs and 1 garlic clove to cooking water. Return to boil and then simmer 20-25 minutes. Drain and discard parsley sprigs. Combine lentils and chopped chicken in medium sized bowl.
  3. Dice and chop veggies while lentils cook.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together ingredients for balsamic vinaigrette. Heat vinaigrette over low heat in same pot that lentils were cooked in. Once heated (but do not boil), pour over lentils and chicken. Add cucumbers, grape tomatoes, feta cheese, red onion, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 280 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated), 18g carbohydrate (5g fiber), 30g protein

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BBQ Chicken & Grilled Pineapple Quesadillas

I found these to be perfect with a side of corn on the cob.  The smells of the dish really have me looking forward to warm summer nights!  Looks like we’re in for it, as the next few days are supposed to be in the high 80’s.  I swear this has been the strangest May I’ve ever experienced.  We’ve had some 90 degree days and then some in the 40’s!  Hopefully June will be a little more predictable.  As always, look out for a lower sodium BBQ sauce that isn’t super high in sugar.  The best compromise I’ve found at Wegmans is the Dinosaur brand.

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BBQ Chicken & Grilled Pineapple Quesadillas- adapted from Closet Cooking

Serves: 6

6 8-inch flour tortillas

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded

1/2 cup 2% colby jack cheese

1/2 cup 2% sharp cheddar

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp low-sodium barbeque sauce

2 jalapenos, seeded and diced

1/4 pineapple, thinly sliced (equal to about 1.5 cups)

Instructions:

  1. Rinse and trim chicken breasts.  Cook in slow-cooker with 1/3 cup water for 7-8 hours on LOW setting.
  2. Preheat grill (I used my Cuisinart Griddler since it was a rainy day) to a medium setting.  Once hot, grill sliced pineapple for a few minutes until you see grill marks.  Set aside.
  3. Once chicken is cooked, shred and mix with the bbq sauce in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Place equal amounts of chicken mixture, jalapenos, pineapple, and both cheese’s on one half of each of the 6 tortillas.  Fold over and grill on medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Use a pizza cutter to cut each tortilla into 3 wedges.  One serving is one tortilla, or 3 wedges.

Serving Size (per serving): 300 calories, 7g fat (2g saturated), 32g carbohydrate, 26g protein

Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan

I was so excited to find this one because I know when it comes time to counsel gluten-free patients, it’s going to a be a bit of a challenge.  So much of my diet is focused around wheat products for their rich nutrients, that I don’t really explore the gluten-free world.  This recipe is a great spin on the classic that saves you some carbohydrate in place of extra protein.  I just hope my Italian grandfather isn’t looking down from heaven ashamed of me for leaving out the pasta!  This recipe is gluten free as long as you do not include the whole wheat breadcrumbs.

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Although the above picture looks like a lot of cheese, it’s really only 1 cup total which is a reasonable portion divided by the six servings.  It always gives me a good laugh when I see pins on pinterest that consist of a meal loaded with cheese with a few vegetables scattered underneath and the pin claims a “healthy meal.”  Please be cautious when you see this!  A meal with an abundant amount of cheese is a red flag to a false claim.

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Baked Quinoa & Chicken Parmesan– very slightly adapted from Prevention RD

Serves: 6

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 (14.5 oz) can low sodium tomato sauce

1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp. dried basil

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

Black pepper to taste

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1.5 cups water

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup reduced fat (2%) mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

1 oz parmesan cheese, shredded

3 tbsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Clean and trim chicken, place on aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.  Set aside.
  3. Increase oven heat to 375 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  4. Place rinsed quinoa and 1.5 cups water in a medium pot.  Cover and bring pot to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer until cooked, about 15 minutes or as per package directions.
  5. To make the sauce, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Stir in the onion and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping off the bottom of the pan and cook 2-3 minutes until liquid is almost fully absorbed.  Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning and black pepper to taste.  Bring to a low boil and simmer until rest of the meal is prepared.
  6. Once chicken and quinoa have finished cooking, add to sauce pan (turn heat off) and mix thoroughly.  Place half of the mixture in the baking dish and top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  Add other half of mixture and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, 1 oz parmesan, and 3 tbsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 more minutes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 336 calories, 9.5g fat, 32g carbohydrate (5g fiber), 30g protein

Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Meatballs

Almost one month since my last post, yikes! The dietetic internship has been very busy to say the least. I really miss the part of my life where I had free time to experiment with cooking. I’m going to work harder this month to show my face here, so to speak.  Due to working seven days last week, I had to relinquish control of grocery shopping to Mr. Applebutter.  All sorts of full fat cheeses and ice cream made their way into my house, but so did some organic veggies and free-range beef. I was proud!

Enjoy this easy spin on the classic spaghetti and meatballs.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Meatballs
Serves: 3 (3 meatballs per serving)

1/4 cup whole wheat low-sodium seasoned breadcrumbs
9 large drained, rinsed and chopped Sun-Dried Tomatoes (in oil)
2 tsp dried parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. reduced fat Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon skim milk
3/4 pound 97% lean ground turkey

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2) Combine breadcrumbs with tomatoes, parsley, garlic, Parmesan and salt in a large bowl. Mix with beaten egg and milk to incorporate. Add ground turkey to the mixture and combine by hand.

3) Form into 9 medium-sized balls and arrange on a large baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until cooked through. Be sure to turn halfway through cook time.

4) Remove from heat and serve with your favorite sauce and whole wheat pasta.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 214 calories, 6g fat, 10g carbohydrate (1.5g fiber), 30g protein

Easy Peasy Chicken Fingers

Sometimes, the heart wants chicken fingers.  I get it.  As a child, it was always chicken fingers for me.  Instead of running to the drive-thru for a deep fried, high fat version- take 15 minutes to make these. :)

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Easy Peasy Chicken Fingers

Serves: 4 (3 chicken fingers each)

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/3 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

2 tbsp. ground flax seed (or “flax meal”- same thing)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins, rinsed and trimmed of visible fat

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Cooking spray

Barbeque sauce to drizzle on top (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Lay raw chicken out on cutting board and lightly salt and pepper.
  3. Lightly beat egg in medium sized bowl.  Combine flax, panko and whole wheat breadcrumbs on a plate.  Mix well.  Spray medium sized cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Line them up in a line in the above order.
  4. Carefully dip chicken fingers one at a time into egg, then flour mixture, and place on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake in 350 F oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping chicken fingers over after about 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with 1-2 tbsp. drizzle of barbeque sauce if desired.

Suggested Side: baked sweet potato fries and a mixed greens salad.

Nutrition Facts (per serving- bbq sauce not included):  230 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated fat), 12g carbohydrate (2g fiber), 30g protein

Chicken Waldorf Salad

Traditionally I don’t incorporate fruit into dinner.  You may disagree, but for me fruit is more of a breakfast, lunch, or snack food.  While this recipe works best as a lunch, I think it made for a delicious and filling dinner as well.  The best part of this is that it’s loaded with lean protein, fiber, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Another major plus, if you slow cook the chicken while you’re at work, this will take 10-15 minutes to prep when you get home, with very limited dishes.  Healthy AND quick, that is a huge win for me!

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Chicken Waldorf Salad adapted from EatingWell

Serves: 4

3 cups [about 1 lb] chicken breast, cooked & shredded (*see step 1)

1 cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt

2 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1 medium gala apple, diced

1 cup red grapes, halved

1 cup celery, diced

2 tbsp. chopped walnuts, unsalted

2 tbsp. reduced fat crumbled feta cheese

6 oz fresh mixed greens

salt and pepper to taste

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Ingredients:

  1. Slow cook chicken on LOW for 8 hours.  Like I said, set this up while you’re working and you’ll be ready to go when you get home!  Don’t have a slow cooker? Simply bake in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes.  Once cooked, shred chicken.
  2. Combine yogurt, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl.  Mix until combined.
  3. Add chicken, apple, grapes, celery, walnuts and cheese to bowl.  Mix until combined and add a little salt and pepper to taste. Divide into 4 equal portions and serve over equal portions of mixed greens.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 349 calories, 10g fat, 17g carbohydrate (3g fiber), 48g protein

Turkey, Spinach & Feta Panini’s with Cranberry Honey Spread

Last week was rough on the cooking front. I had a LOT of flops. One was so bad that we threw it out and ordered a pizza. A really greasy, cheesy pizza. I think Dan was ecstatic. That’s only happened one other time that I can remember since living in this apartment. That’s not saying I haven’t chosen a bad recipe or screwed one up more then twice, but usually we can choke it down. My problem is truly crockpot recipes. I have SUCH a hard time finding good crock pot recipes! They always turn out looking and tasting and smelling like something excreted from a zoo animal. If anyone has a good source, please comment below. I would love some help.

With that being said, I didn’t have a recipe to give you on Thursday. Sometimes that’s going to happen, but I think it’s better then giving you one that will drive you to greasy pizza. I think know this recipe will fully make up for it. It was absolutely delicious, and I’m super excited that it was completely an applebutterharmony invention!

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Turkey, Spinach & Feta Panini’s with Cranberry- Honey Spread

Serves: 3

8 oz bone-in skinless turkey breast (I bought 1lb of the split turkey breast which worked great and I still had 8 oz leftover for sandwiches for the week), thinly sliced

1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

2 oz baby spinach leaves

3 tbsp. reduced fat crumbled feta cheese

9 oz ciabatta bread

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Spread:

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries [I used frozen], thawed

2 tbsp. 1/3 less fat cream cheese

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. honey

Instructions:

  1. Trim turkey of visible fat, rub with 1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper on all sides. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray and cook turkey in 325 degree oven for 55-65 minutes or until the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 F. Use a meat thermometer! [please note, this cooking time was for the entire 1 lb of turkey breast that I mentioned above so if you actually use 8 oz it may cook faster].
  2. While the turkey is cooking, chop the onion and prepare the cranberry spread (see below).
  3. Cranberry spread: Making sure cranberries are fully thawed, combine with 2 tbsp. reduced fat cream cheese, honey, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Blend with an electric mixer until well combined. You may still have some chunks of cranberries, that is ok.
  4. Cut bread into 3 oz pieces and slice lengthwise to form 3 open sandwiches. Top about 1 tbsp. of cranberry spread onto each of the 3 sandwich “bottoms.” Then top each bottom with equal proportions of sliced onion, fresh spinach & crumbled feta cheese.
  5. Once turkey is done, slice into 1/2″ slices and add 4-5 slices to each sandwich bottom. Add the tops and cook in a panini press (or george foreman) until pressed to your liking, about 4-5 minutes depending on your bread.
  6. Eat with fresh veggies or a salad for a well balanced meal

Hint: If you have an hour to bake the turkey on a weeknight, it’s definitely easy enough because all of the prep can be done by the time the turkey is done. If not, save it for a Saturday and use the hour of baking time to snuggle up with a good book.

Nutrition Facts (per sandwich): 448 calories, 11g fat, 52g carbohydrate, 23g protein.