My approach to cooking, especially when it comes to making healthy dishes, is to use fresh ingredients and to keep it simple! Well… that is.. unless I am feeling particularly ambitious and in the mood to try something new and fancy. But that is not usually the case and is definitely not the case today! Although I am no expert chef or nutritionist, I have figured out what works for me in my pursuit of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I think convenience plays a big part in determining what you eat. Therefore, I’ve found it’s important to do the prep work! (This includes planning ahead for snacks in between meals too!) For my first recipe, I am going to not only share with you the ingredients to a dish, but my little tricks of the trade as well. I hope you find this helpful the next time you get in the kitchen!
First, I usually buy the boneless, skinless chicken breast in the fresh meat section at the grocery store. I watch for sales and stock up like 10 packages and put them in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. Then, when I have a defrosted package of chicken ready to cook, I pull out my trusty food scale to measure out the portion sizes I want to eat. I cut off all the fat and any funky stuff that doesn’t resemble plain old chicken breast, and I cut it into pieces that are about 4 ounces each. Why 4 oz. you ask?? I don’t know to be honest. I probably read it somewhere and it stuck with me, but regardless of where it came from, I have found that it is a reasonable portion size for me and for Ben. We have yet to walk away from a meal hungry where we each consumed 4 oz. of meat + veggies.
Whatever I don’t want to use right then, I put in a ziplock bag so that I will already have portioned out chicken ready to go the next time I make a meal. Wah-la!
Next, for this recipe, I cut my 4 oz portion into small bite size pieces and throw into a medium sized skillet that has been heating up on Medium heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Immediately season with salt, pepper, cumin, and Italian seasoning. For a one-person serving, I would use about 1 tsp. of salt, 1/2 t. pepper (fresh ground preferably ), 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, and about 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning. My absolute favorite premixed seasoning is this Italian Seasoning Grinder:
It’s easy and awesome. I use it ALL the time–on chicken, veggies, pasta, fish, you name it… Depending on how big you cut the chicken chunks, you may not have much time to get your veggies in the skillet so everything will be just the right done-ness at the same time. So keep an eye on your chicken! You don’t want it to get too browned or you’ll be in danger of nasty dry chicken that desperately needs to be rescued by a sauce. And I’m not sharing a sauce recipe today! If you’re worried you won’t chop stuff fast enough, get everything cut up and ready before you throw anything in the pan. Then, you can babysit your food and make sure it doesn’t do anything crazy.
For the vegetable part of this simple stir-fry, I used what I had in the fridge. Seriously. This is what I had. I usually try to mix things up with a variety of textures and color (green beans and orange/red bell peppers are one of my favorite combos!), but all I had were green beans and asparagus. Feel free to use whatever veggies you have! Regardless of the vegetable, I suggest cooking it where it still has a bit of crispness and bright color to it. You don’t want to completely cook out all the nutrients and lovely texture and end up eating mush! When I make fresh green beans, I wash them and grab a handful at a time to chop off the ends and cut them in half (or whatever size you prefer).
And for the asparagus, I use a trick I learned watching the Food network.. yes. I’m a dork. I absolutely love the Food Network. When you bend an asparagus spear around its bark, it will naturally break where the stringy, chewy bark ends. So, bend one and let it snap (get it.. bend, and snap! haha). Then, align 3-4 spears together and cut them at the same point. I like to chop these into bite size pieces as well. Ideally, I try to cook 4 oz. of meat and a handful (about 1 cup) of veggies per meal. My goal is not to get super full but to feel sustained. I want to eat just enough food to not be hungry for the next 2-3 hours (which is snack time!). I will post some snack options sometime. My current obsessions are roasted almonds or celery w/all-natural peanut butter!
Asparagus does not take long to cook before it starts to turn a pale ugly green color (you don’t want that!), so when your chicken is about halfway cooked, add the green beans. After a minute or two, add the asparagus. The chicken should be almost done when you add the asparagus. If you’re not sure, take a piece of chicken out and cut it in half to check for any pink spots. When the chicken is completely white, ever-so-slightly browned, it is done. After a few times, you’ll get the hang of it! Make sure you add in a little bit more of the same seasonings after adding the veggies (just a dash or so of each).
If it seems like the veggies are not cooking fast enough and your chicken is almost done, put a lid on the pan to help speed up the process. I’ve found the steam from doing this also helps keep the food moist. Lastly, I have started using a salad plate/small plate for my meals to help with portion control. I think it’s a mental thing. My plate is full, but it’s a reasonable amount of food.
That’s it folks! I know this may be super easy for some of you, but I wanted to start my blog of recipes with something that is simple, tasty, and healthy. This is a meal that you can substitute your favorite seasonings and vegetables with and keep it in your back pocket for any time you need a nutritious meal fast. I made this in about 10-15 minutes plus the time to portion out the whole package of chicken for future use. As my brother and sister-in-law say… Let’s get healthy!
Quick Recipe View:
4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 c. fresh green beans
1/2 c. fresh asparagus
1 t. salt
1-2 t. Italian seasoning
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
1/2 t. cumin
1 T. olive oil
**Preheat medium-sized skillet to Medium heat with olive oil. Cut chicken into bite size pieces and brown in hot skillet. Cut the ends off the green beans and add to skillet when chicken is about halfway cooked (for 1 in. pieces of chicken, this is about 3-4 minutes). Chop up asparagus spears using technique described above and add to skillet when chicken is almost done. Asparagus only needs 2-4 minutes of cooking time in a hot skillet to keep it crisp and green. You can either season the chicken while it’s alone in the pan and then add another dash of two of seasonings after all the veggies are in, or you can just season the whole pan once everything is in. (I prefer to season the chicken first so the flavor gets cooked in better.) Stir ingredients until chicken is lightly browned with no pink spots, and veggies are still crisp and bright green.