Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mediterranean-stuffed Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is a go-to lean protein. I often hear my clients say that they are SO sick of it because they eat it all the time. When I ask them how they prepare it, they many have a few recipes that they use, but don't go too far out of their comfort zone. Don't let chicken breast become boring! It is so versatile and is one of the healthier meats around (especially if it is free range).

This chicken dish does take a few minutes longer than sautéing it on the stove top or baking it plain, but it will leave your tastebuds happy. Pair with your favorite vegetable (I chose sautéed brussels spouts) and some roasted potatoes and dinner is complete.

I have gone on to write about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet in the past, but the research to show its effectiveness is so strong, it can be said again. This dietary lifestyle focuses on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats (like olive oil and nuts), fish, beans, and small amounts of meats and dairy. It also limits the amount of sweets in our diet. There is much research to support the use of a mediterranean diet to reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. To read up on a new study that found that it lowers risk of developing Metabolic syndrome (a combination of elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure, large waist circumference, and blood lipid abnormalities click here. To read about another study that linked it with a reduction in risk for Type 2 Diabetes click here

Mediterranean-stuffed Chicken Breast 
Serves 4

1 pound of chicken breast (preferably 2 breasts) thinly sliced or butterflied*
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
 2 slices of provolone, halved
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add spinach, tomatoes, and olives and cook for 3 minutes.
3. Place 1/2 of the filling in each breast, place provolone on top. Fold the chicken breast over to make a pocket.
4. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top and bake for 40 minutes, or until internal temp reaches 160 degrees.

Nutrition facts: 1/4 of recipe
275 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated), 11 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 34 g protein, 670 mg sodium
*To learn how to butterfly chicken breast click here

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