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!

IMG_3501

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

 

Slow Cooker Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

Another week without an oven, and for right now, I’m still – for the most part – okay with it (despite my inability to make coffee).  If you’ve ever seen the show Cutthroat Kitchen, where they give you all the ingredients and tools you need then take away one very important thing…like you can’t use your hands, or no knives, or no oven…it kind of feels like that. At the end of the day, I feel like the fact that my diet has not consisted solely of microwave popcorn and hot pockets, I’m not doing TOO bad prepping food without it.

That being said, I am really REALLY looking forward to the delivery of my new gas range next week (WITH A GRIDDLE ON TOP!!!) so I can really have fun with all my Pinterest recipe searches!  Now, without an oven, I have two ways to heat/cook food.  Microwave, and crock pot.  So this week I turned to my lovely crock pot to make some soup, and made enough to throw several Tupperware containers of it in the freezer for later.

This soup is hearty, and filling, I mean, it’s base is sweet potato.  The chipotle chili seasoning mix brings a little kick to it, just enough to amp up the flavor, top it off with some sour cream and a squeeze of lime and you have a bowl full of deliciousness.

As with most recipes I try out and post here, I found this online.  I wish I was creative enough in the kitchen to be able to make this stuff up, buuuut I’m not, so I obsess over Pinterest and will try just about anything!  I’m a pretty decent cook…just not great at creating recipes, and I feel like that is okay.  I found this recipe on Carlsbad Cravings (https://carlsbadcravings.com) – check out their site (they just posted a bunch of Game Day treats for this weekend!)

INGREDIENTS:
I cooked this in two batches because my crock pot wasn’t big enough, but it made a TON of soup – definitely could have halved the recipe, but now I have a bunch of soup saved for another day!

3lbs sweet potato – peeled, chopped into small cubes
3 granny smith apples – peeled, choppedIMG_33091 medium yellow onion – chopped
4-6 cloves garlic – minced
1 32oz container of low sodium chicken stock
2t ground cumin
1 1/2t salt
1t chili powder
1/2t chipotle chili powder
1/2t smoked paprika
1/2t dried oregano
1/2t ground cinnamon

ADD LATER:
2-4T lime juice (I added the lime juice to just the serving I was eating – all my stored soup is without – wanted a zesty fresh lime taste to my bowl)

GARNISH:
sour cream
cilantro
pumpkin seeds
(I forgot these when I went to the market, so I just used sour cream and ground toasted almonds – but WISH I had that cilantro!)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Add ingredients to slow cooker (except lime juice 7 garnishes – obviously). Cook on ow for 6-8 hours on low or 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 hours on high – until potatoes are very tender.

IMG_33522. In batches, add soup to your blender.  Blend until very smooth, MAKE SURE TO LET SMOKE ESCAPE OR IT WILL EXPLODE (caps for dramatic effect…but really – leave a corner open and cover with a towel).  Return pureed soup to large pot, repeat until all soup as been pureed.  I have been traumatized by an exploding blender before…so I used my immersion blender instead – there was soup literally everywhere

3. Stir in salt & pepper to taste, add extra chipotle powder if you want it to have more of a kick.  This is where the original recipe calls to add the lime, so you can add it here or hold off – up to you!

4. Garnish each serving with the topping you have chosen and a spritz of lime and you’re good to go!

ENJOY!!

IMG_3347