Chicken breasts can strike sadness into the heart of weightlifters. We know it’s full of lean protein. We know it is low on calories. We know it’s a good way to meet macronutrient intake. We also know it sucks. I hate eating chicken. Period. It sucks. If overcooked it’s chewy and dry. If undercooked you hurt your stomach and potentially could end up with a stomach bug. Getting it in between is difficult and if you’re trying to lose weight adding all kinds of stuff to it doesn’t help the fat loss.
Take Arroz con Pollo, a popular Mexican dish. Oil, guacamole, cheese and more cheese make it super tasty. Also its chalk full of calories. Pollo a la crema is another one that I really enjoy, but chalk full of calories. Mexican food is great and I am in no way badmouthing it, in fact I absolutely love it, but keeping it real with calories and Mexican food is darned near impossible.
Chicken thighs are great because they don’t dry out near as easy, but you have to be careful on the calories because they do have significantly more fat. On top of that I just don’t think they are as tasty as a steak with salt and pepper. So what’s a mom or dad to do who is exercising and trying to lose or maintain weight?
Over the years I have hated chicken so much I had to come up with some recipes to alleviate some of the terror, especially since boiled chicken breast is a no go for my taste buds.
So here are just a few ideas with what you can do with chicken breast. It’s not all inclusive, but imagination is the only limit to this endeavor.
So without further adieu…
Peanut Butter Curry Chicken breast
- Chicken breast (I usually use between 400-800g or 14-28oz)
- Peanut Butter Powder 2tbsp
- Curry powder 2tbsp
- Green onions 4-5 bunches
- Fresh Ginger (as much or little as you want)
Yes, you really only need 5 ingredients. Brilliant!! Cut the chicken breast into cubes or steaks and salt them. Heat the pan and make sure it is hot before adding chicken. All of the following recipes will start this way.
Use some non stick spray and begin cooking the chicken. Add the peanut butter powder on top, along with the curry powder and cut up ginger. You’ll need to add some water to mix the curry and peanut butter powder together to make a sauce. Flip the chicken after about 3 minutes or so. If the sauce begins to dry out add some more water.
When the chicken is about done, cut the green onion with scissors and add at the end, just before plating, or you can cook them a bit to take out a bit of their potency. You can serve with rice or potato.
Nutrition Facts (assuming 20oz chicken breast and type of PB powder used)
Calories about 620, Protein 134g, Fat 7g, Carbs 5g
The nutrition on this one will vary depending on the size of the tomatillos used. 1 medium size tomatillo (about 34g) will be about 11 calories. So the more you use the more calories it will have but 11 calories for a tasty tomatillo isn’t much. So use 10. You’ll be just over 100 calories, but they will be well worth adding to your dish. Trust me and all my wonderful Mexican friends.
- 10 tomatillos
- chicken breast
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 bunch of cilantro
Get the pan hot. Meanwhile, cut the tomatillos and add them to the pan with a bit of salt. Cook into they start to mush a bit. Remove them and add them to a blender along with the garlic and jalapeno. Remember to cut out the seeds if you don’t like it crazy spicy.
Blend it up on pulses until you have a nice runny smooth mixture. Set aside.
Cook your chicken in the pan. Be sure to add a bit of water at the end to pick up the tasty bits in the pan. I like to take about 3 minutes per side in a hot pan. This is why a HOT pan is necessary. Don’t put the chicken in when the pan is warming up.
Once the chicken is done, put the sauce on top. Buen Provecho!
Calories ~710, Protein ~133g, Fat ~8g, Carbs ~ 20g
Italian Style(ish) Chicken Breast
Now my Italian ancestry is probably all spitting in their graves for me even saying this, mostly because this isn’t quite how you’d do chicken, but they’re dead so unless they want to haunt me, here goes…
- Chicken breast
- Parmegian Cheese (28g)
- Fresh or dried Oregano and Basil
Note: This is one can be done in the oven. 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes with the cheese and herbs on top. You have to be really careful not to over do it though. Since there is no added fat or oil, it can dry out quickly. Conversely you can cook everything first in the pan and then put it under the broiler for a minute to make the cheese nice and brown.
Cut your chicken a bit thinner and when the pan is HOT, throw the chicken in. Add the cheese and herbs. Flip after a couple of minutes and buon apetito.
28g isn’t a lot of cheese. This is sad but true. If you can sacrifice calories elsewhere you can add a bit more cheese, but unless you going to broil it to get the crispy effect, it may not be worth it.
Calories ~700, Protein ~139g, Fat ~12.7, Carbs 1g
Be sure to weigh out the cheese on this one since estimating cheese will put you over calories. It’s just too easy to say 1 cup of cheese looks like a tablespoon when spread.
This is another that is easy and goes especially well with rice. I try to keep the chicken a bit thinner with this one to help soak up the sweetness of the sauce.
- Soy Sauce 1/4 cup
- Brown Sugar 25g (weigh it)
- Green Onion
- Fresh ginger (as much or little as you want)
This one is a bit different. Put the soy sauce in the pan along with the brown sugar. Mix it well and then let heat it up and let it begin to simmer. Add the chicken and let it cook. If the sauce begins to get too thick then add a bit of water. If it is too thin and the chicken is done, then take out the chicken and let it simmer to reduce.
Cut the green onions and place on top after cooking or cook slightly just before taking off the heat.
This is another recipe like the Italian chicken that can go wrong very quickly with the addition of sugar and soy sauce. With the use of the above ingredients and at their measures the calories come in as follows:
Calories ~737, Protein 138g, Fat 5.7g, Carbs 28g
I don’t count things peppers and green onions because they don’t add any appreciable calories.
These are just 4 ideas for some recipes that you can use. Remember that all of these assume about 20oz of chicken. You can adjust the macronutrient profile by the amount of chicken you cook. For a person who only needs 140 or so grams of protein a day, this can be divided into two or three meals. For a person needing more, I would divide this into two meals and call it good.
If you have any great ideas for chicken, please leave suggestions in the comments below.
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