Mediterranean Chicken Bowl

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I’ve mentioned it a thousand times, but my Mom is incredible in so many ways. However, since I’m blogging about food, we will narrow this down to what a great cook she is. From the time my siblings and I were young, she introduced us to all kinds of delicious home cooked meals. Some were met by her five children with smiles, some with confused looks. But looking back on it, “adult me” would LOVE to have had these meals, while 6-year old Hannah was a bit unsure of things like stuffed grape leaves, gazpacho, eggplant (cooked any way…young Hannah was not a fan), shad roe (this may have been more my dad than my mom), goulash (yes – I know – it’s meat and sauce and noodles and delicious, but as a kid the name creeped me out) and putting plain yogurt on rice??  What was with that??  **Mom, if you’re reading this, don’t say you’re sorry for this lol.  I love you, your food is delicious, and I was a silly silly child who didn’t realize how good she had it lol. I love you.

But a funny thing happened when I grew up…I make gazpacho all the time in the summer, I’ve sought out shad roe at my local fish market, and it brings back memories of home – never met anyone else that eats it lol, stuffed grape leaves are a treat when I find them at a good restaurant, BRING ON THE GOULASH, eggplant – well, I’m still working on that one.  And the yogurt on rice? Growing up, I would usually decline the yogurt when I saw my mother putting it on her rice, because my brain could not comprehend how yogurt on rice could be even remotely tasty. Well, years later, I tried it, and once again I was reminded that my Mom is always right.

While I still may not be a huge fan of PLAIN yogurt on rice, I AM a fan of tzatziki on rice.  Tzatziki on it’s own is such a versatile condiment. I love it to pump up a somewhat plain dish to make it feel a bit “extra”, especially in the warmer months. Something about the cool yogurt, the crisp cucumbers, and the fresh dill with a zing of lemon makes it a near perfect combination for hot summer days.

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One of my clients requested some ideas for meal prepping, so here we go!  I’ve made all the pieces of this before but have never put it all together until now! I love this Mediterranean chicken bowl because it is essentially three recipes in one, so you can mix and match this pretty easily. Check it out!

INGREDIENTS
Chicken:
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs garlic, minced (adjust according to your love of garlic…I love it, and 2T was plenty)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs dried oregano
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cucumber Tomato Salad:img_4163.jpg
2 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced
2c. cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Tzatziki Sauce:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 English cucumber, finely diced
1 tsp – up to 1 Tbs minced garlic (adjust to garlic preference. I use the garlic press for theist get a little of that squeezed juice in there too)
1/2 Tbs dill weed, or 1 Tbs fresh dill, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint (optional – but add it – makes it way better)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh mSalt and pepper to taste
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Other Ingredients:IMG_4159
2-3 cups cooked brown rice, or quinoa (I do half and half and mix them up!)
1/2c. Red onion sliced

 

mmm…tzatziki…
(also great as a veggie dip!)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  • In large ziplock bag, combine all ingredients for chicken marinade, zip it, mix it, then add the chicken to it, and seal the bag shut.  Squeeze it around with your hands, making sure the chicken is covered with the yogurt marinade, then put in the fridge.  Let it sit for at least an hour, but longer is better!
  • While the chicken is soaking in all that delicious flavor, cook your rice (or quinoa or both) according to package instructions. When rice is done, divide it out to your meal prep containers.
  • Now that your chicken has marinated for a while (an hour +), take it out, and remove the chicken from the bag, and discard the bag with remaining mixture.
  • Heat up skillet with a little olive oil (or throw it on the grill!), and add chicken breasts. Cook chicken until done – depending on thickness of the breast,  timing may change.  Internal temp should be 165ºF, and when you slice into the chicken, make sure it’s fully cooked through.
  • Once finished, remove from pan, and let cool. When it is cool, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, and set aside. When I made this in the past, I cooked the chicken breast as a whole, and it worked great. This time for some reason, I chopped the chicken before it marinated without thinking, and the sear wasn’t as good (missed out on that extra flavor and color)- still tasted great, but it was a bit of a whoops moment.
  • Make the cucumber tomato salad by chopping the cukes and tomatoes, and adding all other ingredients into a bowl, and stir together. Stir to coat everything in the dressing, and set aside.
  • Next up is the tzatziki.  Combine yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon, mint, S&P, and lemon zest (optional) into a bowl, and mix together.
  • Now, start fully assembling your bowls.  You already have your rice in your Tupperware containers, add some chicken, cucumber-tomato salad, some red onion, and a dollop of tzatziki to it, and you are good to go!  That tzatziki will be the dressing for this, but a little bit goes a long way – I used a little less than 1/4c. of it for my bowls.

*These will last 3-5 days or so in the fridge, but I wouldn’t push much longer than 5 days.  
*If raw red onion is not your style, and you want to take the edge off a little, just slice them up and let them sit in ice cold water for 8-10 minutes and they will be less oniony.  

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ENJOY!!!

What to do with boring shredded chicken

My favorite protein to prep?  Shredded chicken.  Boring, shredded chicken.  Nothing fancy, just simple chicken.  Why, you may ask, is this my favorite thing to prep?  Because it is a blank canvas.  It’s just the base that I can play with throughout the week.  One thing that holds so many people back from meal prepping, is the fact that they think if they meal prep, it will be the exact same thing every day for a week. That it will be dried out and hard to stomach by the end of the week. Well, sometimes it is, so what we need to do is to figure out how to make these meals something that you will actually enjoy and look forward to throughout the week.

This week, one of my ProCoach cohorts is working on eating protein at every meal, hitting their protein goals throughout the day, and keeping an eye on portion sizes to make sure they stay on track. Eating protein at every meal is not necessarily difficult, but I wanted to incorporate this habit into this week’s recipe.  So this week, I have several meals made up with the same base shredded chicken breasts.  Now – these are only three of the hundreds of meals you can create with this.  These are just a few that I played with this week.  So listed below are recipes for:

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Breasts (BASE)
Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowl
Pesto & Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich
Chicken Tacos

First up, we have the recipe for the base, which is the basic crock-pot shredded chicken.  This recipe is super easy, and the shredded chicken, when stored properly, does not dry out over the course of the week, which is key!

CROCK POT SHREDDED CHICKEN BREASTSIMG_3483
INGREDIENTS:
3lbs Chicken Breast (about 4 large)
1c. Chicken Broth
1t Salt
1t Pepper
1t Garlic Powder
1t Onion Powder

DIRECTIONS:

  • Place chicken breasts in crock pot, pour chicken broth and seasonings over chicken.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 2-4 (low usually keeps the chicken juicier)
  • Remove chicken from crock pot and shred chicken with two forks.
  • Allow chicken to cool and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator

 

BUFFALO CHICKEN QUINOA BOWL
Using the shredded chicken that you so conveniently already have in the fridge…putting together the rest of this bowl is a breeze!

INGREDIENTS:
4oz. Shredded chicken
IMG_34871/3c. Black Beans – cooked & drained
1/4 Avocado – medium
1/2c. kale (I lightly sautéed mine in a little coconut oil to soften it up)
1/4c. Corn – Steamed
1/2c. Quinoa – cooked (I used quinoa brown rice blend)
1/3c. Cherry Tomatoes -chopped with red onion, s&p
Garnish: Shredded Cheese & chopped cilantro
Frank’s Red Hot
1T Butter

This made for a HUGE bowl, obviously you can cut the amounts in half, I had some leftovers from this.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Sautee Kale in pan, once it starts to soften up & wilt a little, set aside.  Add the chicken to the pan with butter & Franks and toss to mix together.  Heat on medium to low to reheat chicken with the sauce.
  • Steam corn, rinse beans, slice up avocado and set aside.
  • Prep tomatoes – quarter them, add finely chopped red onion and season with S&P, set aside.
  • Cook Quinoa, add to the bowl, add the rest of the ingredients which have already been prepped
  • Garnish with cheese and chopped cilantro.

Here’s my trick with this – it seems like a crazy amount of prep work, but I find success by having a lot of this stuff prepped ahead of time, or finding little shortcuts.   Here are two of my no-so-secret tips that make recipes like this really easy – and just a matter of scooping things into a bowl.

  • I usually have a couple cans of black beans rinsed and ready to go & also a jar of chopped super chunky “Salsa” (like the one above) in my fridge at all times- I put them with my eggs, on my salads, in bowls like this, burritos, just plain as a snack, the options are endlessproduct_rts_organicredquinoa
  • I buy individual quinoa cups that microwave for 1 minute…because it’s one ofthosethings I despise cooking, and I love eating it…this makes it easier for me to stay on track!

 

Pesto & Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich
I made this as an open-face sandwich that I melted cheese on, but I have also had this as a cold chicken sandwich in a pita pocket, which works well when bringing it on the go, or even mixed into a salad!

INGREDIENTS:IMG_3490
4oz. shredded chicken
1/3 avocado – medium
1T finely chopped red onion
2T Basil Pesto
2T Whole Grain Honey Mustard (homemade)
1/3c. Kale – chopped (very lightly sautéed if desired)
2 slices Ezekiel bread – toasted
Sliced Cheddar Cheese – optional

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Add Chicken, pesto, red onion, avocado to bowl and mix until completely combined.
  • Toast bread, spread honey mustard, then stack kale, and then chicken mix.
  • Top with cheese if you want
  • Bake in the oven until cheese starts to melt – about 3-5 minutes, then broil for 1-2 minutes to finish it off.
  • As mentioned above – this chicken salad is delicious, and is so yummy warm or cold!  A great alternative to a heavy mayo chicken salad!

 

Chicken Tacos

So I’m not going to write up a recipe for tacos…because I assume you have made them
before, but I AM going to include a recipe for homemade taco seasoning that I’ve been using for years.  Tacos are pretty simple – add what you like, keep it fresh and delicious, and enjoy them – because tacos are one of the greatest things ever created, and always feel like a fun, exciting treat, even when they are SUPER healthy! I’ve never met anyone who isn’t amped up when they talk about having tacos for dinner.  So if you haven’t already, start making your taco seasoning!

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INGREDIENTS: (this will last you for a while…not just for one night of tacos – well, maybe, I don’t know how many tacos you plan on eating)
2T Chili PowderIMG_3499
1/2t Garlic Powder
1/2t Onion Powder
1/2t Crushed Red Pepper
1/2t Oregano
1t Paprika
3t Cumin
2t Salt
2t Ground Black Pepper