“What Did You Say Was for Dinner???” The protein source that will make your meal planning, and life, easier.

What did you say was for dinner???

What did you say was for dinner???

If those short people who live with me ask me ‘what’s for dinner?’ one more time (after I’ve already concocted homemade breakfasts, am and pm snacks, and lunch, day after day…), I may snap.  As in go totally postal in my own kitchen.  But since one of my goals in life is to stay out of the slammer, and another is to make sure the kids keep me out of the home when I’m old, I resort to counting to ten, deep breathing techniques, and having chicken breasts ready to go.

I’m not overstating it when I say that the chicken breast is a saving grace in my kitchen and household on a weekly basis.  It is one of those staples either in my fridge or freezer at any given time, without fail. Why the chicken breast, of all things?

 

First, they are full of protein and filling–fewer after dinner ‘I’m still hungry!’ complaints AND I get MY protein needs met.

Second, while bland and not particularly attractive all by their lonesome, chicken breasts’ ‘lack’ of inherent flavor makes them suitable for a huge variety of recipes from a wide variety of cultures (and, therefore, flavors).

Versatility is an important factor in keeping up some semblance of novelty in meal planning and execution.  The short people basically try to strike like Italian railway workers at the slightest hint of a repeat meal in the week.

Third, chicken breasts are fantastically easy to prepare and are, typically, very accessible* from a wide variety of food providers (farms, fresh markets, grocery stores, bulk food/warehouse chains).

 

Here’s why I think you should bake up a batch of chicken breasts every week:

 

1.  Chicken breasts are full of protein.

A 3.6 oz serving of cooked (roasted) chicken breast, which is the recommended serving size, provides 32.25 grams of protein, 173.25 calories, and contains 3.75 grams of fat, .75 of which are saturated.

(All quantities are based on a 3/4 cup serving adjustment to the 1 cup nutritional data provided by USDA SR-21 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/703/2#ixzz3SYWrR9F0 )

You know what protein means in a meal?  In a nutshell, feeling fuller for longer, and generally more satisfied, after a meal.

 

2.  Chicken breasts are suitable for a HUGE variety of recipes.

One batch of chicken breasts baked on a weekend, or an evening, can give you a huge head start on creating any number of the following recipes (plus about a thousand more)…

And feel free to read with “Bubba’s” voice in your head….

Bubba Shrimp Quote

Click for Bubba’s Shrimp Quote

There’s…

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

White Chicken Chili (pictured on left)

2 Chili Bowl

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken and Rice Soup

IMG_4384

Pho Ga with Chicken

Chicken Soft Tacos

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken “Mexican Bowls”

IMG_4056

Chicken Waldorf Salad

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chicken_waldorf_salad.html

Chicken Salad

Green Salad topped with Chicken Breast

IMG_4345 IMG_4319 IMG_5725

Chicken Breast Sandwiches

Chicken Breast Wraps

Chicken Breast “burgers” (California-, Teriyaki-, Buffalo-style….)

“Buffalo Chicken” Breast Strips or Salad

IMG_4219

Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

Chicken Breast Strips

Chicken “Schnitzel”

Spaghetti with (Chicken Chunk) Tomato Sauce

Chicken Swimming Rama

http://www.food.com/recipe/swimming-rama-with-peanut-sauce-304463

Baked Chicken “Florentine”

http://www.oxygenmag.com.au/Nutrition/tabid/620/entryid/1008/Chicken-Florentine-Bake.aspx

Chicken Penne “Fake Bake”

…and any basic variation of chicken breast +veggie source+ complex carb source

IMG_4167

 

 

What’s more is almost any of these, or any other chicken recipe you find, can be tweaked to meet YOUR individual nutritional needs, e.g.: low sodium, low fat, low carb.

 

3.  Chicken breasts are fantastically easy to prepare.

Baking Chicken Breasts

The usual baking method: sprinkle of kosher salt, sprinkle of black pepper, baked at 375F for 30ish minutes.

A quick sprinkle of this and that, about a half an hour in the oven (baking times vary, you’ll have to watch yours), and we have approximately 6+servings of chicken ready to go in any variety of recipes or meal-creating scenarios.

OR boil the chicken breasts in plain or slightly salted water–if your intention is to shred the chicken, this method can make it easier to shred than baking.

OR, if you really want to get fancy and the weather permits ;), you can grill up a batch.  In this case, I’d make it a big batch and get your propane’s worth out of the effort!

3b.  Chicken breasts are (generally) readily accessible*.

Chicken is a common meat source, not a specialty food that is hard to find and expensive to procure.

Currently, I live in Germany, and I shop both at the American facilities and the German ones.  In both venues, frozen and fresh chicken (whole or in parts) is easy to find, and won’t break the bank.

To date, I’ve also travelled and shopped for food in Canada, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Austria (how fun and intriguing are foreign supermarkets??), and chicken has been a easily-accessed food.  Granted, they aren’t terribly exotic locations or third-world countries, but so far it’s been easy for me to find chicken when traveling.

*Quick Side Note:  Free Range chicken is probably the best kind for you and for the environment, however, it’s not always easy to find in all cities/locations AND not necessarily affordable (which is also a factor of ‘accessibility’) for every person or family.

 

Familiar, simple to dress up or down, affordable, filling and an easy addition to make to your weekly meal plans, the chicken breast is here to save the day…or at least dinner…and your sanity 🙂

What are your favorite uses for the chicken breast?  What fantastic recipes can you add to the list??  Post in the comments below–I’d love to hear about YOUR best recipes!

 

 

 

 

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