I have a confession to make: I love chicken. That’s right, folks. I am obsessed. This may seem like no big deal to you, but up until about a month ago I would have told you I don’t eat chicken. I have never had the taste for it–unless if was processed and formed into a nugget and half-eaten by one of my kids and I snatched it up before scraping it into the garbage disposal. When I’d make chicken parm for my family, I’d make eggplant for myself. Chicken or fish at a wedding? Fish, please. This all changed at the start of 2016.
I am currently 2 1/2 weeks into an online fitness boot camp in an attempt to do the dreaded “lose the baby weight” thing. I love working out and I love eating fruits and veggies, but I’ve also let being a mom–especially a working mom–break so many of my disciplined habits. I became a perpetual snacker who hardly ate real meals, a woman who felt guilty leaving the house for even a 20 minute run, and a person who heard the slightest child-whine or baby-cry in the distance and immediately turned off any workout DVD I had managed to begin. Yes, I would have still considered myself fit and healthy, but I wasn’t as fit and healthy or happy as I could have been. I’d play outside with my kids and run with them in my double-jogger and enlist them to help me blend my morning green smoothie. But, I was often tired. I lost my patience rather easily. I resented my husband’s longer hours at work. I was pretty normal.
This boot camp is changing all of that. It allows me to find accountability, motivation, and mindfulness through a group of women all embarking on a virtual fitness journey. It encourages me to workout and to invite others to join me, like my husband, sister-in-law, and my kids. It inspires me to pay attention to my eating and to really make the most of it by eating clean. I have lost 3 1/2 pounds since I started the boot camp, and I attribute this to a combination of regular workouts, a true support system, and smarter eating.
What does this have to do with chicken? Just about everything. My online fitness coach helped me realize that I was lacking protein in most of my meals. This caused me to feel hungry, to be sluggish, and to crave sweets. As I did my own research on foods rich in protein and lower in fat, chicken repeatedly appeared. Turkey, beans, lentils, nonfat plain Greek yogurt–these were already favorites of mine. But chicken? Bleh. I sucked it up, though, and found that when stripped down and incorporated into healthful, clean recipes, chicken may be my new favorite thing. Need proof? I am lunching on crock pot salsa chicken over mixed greens and avocado right now.
I am now a meal-eater. My husband and I were revealing in that fact last night. I have nearly cleaned my plate at every meal since January 4th when this began. I know my metabolism is revved up, but I am also not filling myself with needless snacks. I am incorporating protein in every meal as well, which keeps me fuller longer and helps my body break down the fats and carbs I do consume. Last night’s dinner–which I am calling Baked Chicken ala Yummy–was a perfect example of all of my new habits coming together. I ate chicken. I finished my meal. I woke up still full. 🙂
In full disclosure, this is an old recipe I happened upon years ago, maybe from a cooking show or online, that I tweaked to make my own. I hadn’t cooked in ages, though. When Mom doesn’t want to eat chicken, Mom hardly cooks chicken. Perhaps the best part of this dish is just how yummy your house smells while you bake it, hence the name.
I served this with a side of zucchini spaghetti, so I’ll include those directions as well.
Baked Chicken ala Yummy
A tasty, simple chicken dinner the whole family can enjoy!
- 2 chicken breasts, cut thin (or 4 cutlets)
- 1 slice nitrate free turkey bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large garlic clove, thinly slice
- 1 tomato on the vine, diced
- 1/3 cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 lemon for juicing, halved.
- 1 large zucchini, spiraled into spaghetti (I use the Veggetti)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray the bottom of a large baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Place the 4 cutlets into your baking dish. Top with bacon, tomato, and garlic slices. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Squeeze the juice of one-half of the lemon over the chicken.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes uncovered, then cover with foil for another 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and your home smells good enough to eat.
- During the second phase of baking, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add zucchini spaghetti and boil for 6-8 minutes, depending on the consistency you prefer. Drain, and top with the juice of the other half of the lemon.
- Serve warm. Enjoy!
You can play around with this recipe in countless ways: use traditional bacon, eliminate the lemon juice and drizzle everything with olive oil, add onion as well, you name it! Before I was eating clean and trying to avoid as many processed foods as possible, I would serve this with a side of pre-packaged mashed potatoes or refrigerated crescent rolls or something of that sort. I have really been able to eliminate much of these types of foods and feel less bloated and overall much healthier. Give it a try and I am sure you will have similar benefits.
Please comment below with ways you made this recipe your own! Happy cooking!