Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Feta Chicken with Yellow Squash

I admit, I do not try all of the recipes that I post...those that I list with nutrition information, notes, and a link to the recipe are ones that I think sound good, but have never actually made. This one, however, I made Sunday night and it's so good. This is when a camera will come in handy...if I had a picture to post, I'd be more convincing!

I love chicken...its easy, inexpensive, and very lean. I always have it in my freezer. My mom cooked chicken all of the time when we were growing up...I remember saying with my brother and sister "chicken again?" kids will definitely say the same one day!

I love feta....salty, creamy, delish! And like most soft cheeses, it's lower in fat (75 cals and 6g fat per 1 oz serving).

I love squash...during the summer I like it grilled and in the winter I like it roasted. I like that the vegetable side is incorporated into the main less side dish to prepare!

So this recipe is perfect for me! It originally called for zucchini (which would be just as good), but I had yellow squash in the fridge so yellow squash it was. I served it with a side salad (just butterleaf lettuce and a Dijon vinaigrette) and sourdough toast.

Feta Chicken with Zucchini
adapted from

Makes 4 servings

3 teaspoons olive oil
2 lemons
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds or 6 oz each)
salt and pepper
4 medium yellow squash
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced (or pressed)
1/2 cup crumbled Feta

Preheat oven to 400° F. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil in a roasting pan (or spray with cooking spray). Thinly slice the lemons. Place half the slices in the pan.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels (I actually like to use coffee filters because they don't stick to the chicken). Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place it on top of the lemon slices.

Slice each squash in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons. In a bowl, combine the squash, Italian seasoning, garlic, remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, remaining lemon slices; season with salt and pepper and toss. Spread the squash mixture around the chicken.

Roast 15 minutes and then remove from oven and sprinkle the feta over the top of the chicken. Return to the oven and continue roasting until the chicken is cooked through, another 5 to 10 minutes (at the very end I turned on the broiler to brown the cheese a little...just for a few minutes). Serve.

Per serving - 293 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated), 10 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 43 g protein (exchanges: 2 fat, 6 protein, 2 vegetables)

Notes - The original recipe called for 2 medium zucchini and so I used 4 small yellow squash. But once everything cooked, the squash really shrunk and I wished I had used more. That's why I'm calling for 4 medium. So, even though it may look like alot of squash when you are spreading it around the chicken, go with it. I also cut each breast in half before serving...6 ounces of chicken (and 43 g protein) is alot in 1 meal for a girl (my dad ate the whole breast). The lemon slices aren't meant to be eaten...just for flavor and moisture.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All We Can Do Is Keep Breathing

Have you heard the Ingrid Michaelson song "Keep Breathing"? Its at the top of my playlist right it! She sings that when life gets crazy and out of control all you can do is keep breathing.

My life has been crazy since November started and as a result I haven't posted anything since November 3rd! In addition to my normal schedule (teaching dance from 3:30 - 9:00 pm Monday through Thursday and 1:00 - 6:00 pm on Sundays) I've been doing a lot of extra choreography: 2 dances for the Saintsations, a duet for 2 kids at the studio, a solo for a high school dancer, and a competition number for the senior company at Tari's School of Dance.

I've also starting working with several high school girls on weight management...I'm on the verge of officially starting my own's so exciting! I love working with this age group (no offense TWL members). I feel that if you can teach young girls healthy eating habits then they will pass what they know on to their families once they get married and have kids.

On top of all of this, LSU has played 4 (going on 5) straight home games. When LSU plays at home my entire Saturday is filled with tailgating, watching band/Golden Girl practice, helping my sister get ready, more tailgating, the game, and finally more tailgating. I also flew to Houston last Friday to watch the Houston Met's fall show and flew home the following morning to get back for the game. Sunday I "worked" from 11:30 am - 7:00 pm. Last night (after teaching from 3:30 - 7:00 pm) I went to Tigerama to watch Hil perform and didn't get home until 12:30 am.

But now I can breathe! Its 10:00 am on Tuesday morning and I am still in bed, blogging. And next week the studio is closed for Thanksgiving so I can really relax.

The following recipes are all slow-cooker recipes. When life gets really hectic, a common problem with getting a home cooked meal on the table is not enough time. With a little planning ahead and by using a slow cooker, you can have dinner ready when you walk in the door at the end of the day. I've already blogged once about slow-cooker meals.

Planning your meals ahead of time can help save time, money, stress, a trip through the drive thru...It will save you from going to the store multiple times a week. You won't have to think about "what's for dinner" each day. And if you have the ingredients to make a recipe on hand, you will probably go ahead and do it as opposed to eating out at a restaurant or getting take out. And as a result you will eat healthier, less processed food.

Before I head to the grocery store, I make a list with the staples I buy every week: apples, yogurt, milk, lettuce, baby carrots, red bell pepper, green onions, cottage cheese. I check to see if I'm out of English muffins (I keep these in the freezer), natural peanut or other nut butter, oatmeal, and nuts. And then I pick my recipes for the week and add the ingredients I need to the list. And this always includes the ingredients for my "salad of the week" and seasonal fruits to snack on.

I actually write down what I plan on eating for the week...and although I don't use it, I found this meal planning worksheet and thought it might be helpful.

Now, I know most of you are thinking right now..."she doesn't have kids", "she doesn't have a whole family to cook for", etc...and you are right! But as you can see above I am really busy, and if I don't plan ahead one of two things happens (1) I don't have enough food for the week and have to eat out more...wasting my calories, or (2) I end up making several trips to the store, usually on my way home from teaching dance late at night ...wasting my time.

My thought is "if you buy it, you will eat it", so buy lots of fruits and vegetables so that you have them to eat and buy fewer processed foods so that you don't have them to eat.

The salad recipe was sent to me by at TWL member. If any of you have any recipes you would like to share with me, I'd love to have them so that I can share them with everyone else! Leave the links as a comment.

Strawberry Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette -
  • Per serving - 153 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 11 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber (exchanges ½ fruit, 1 vegetable, 2 fat)
  • Notes - Prep everything ahead of time (except the avocado) so that you have a quick lunch ready all week - store everything in separate containers in the refrigerator; make the salad more filling (so that it can be lunch by itself) by adding more veggies (lettuces, red bell pepper, green beans, shredded carrots…) and some lean protein (chicken, turkey, beans); notice the serving makes 12 2/3 cup servings - if you double the size of your serving, don't double the fats (dressing, avocado, pecans); if you don't have raspberry vinegar, just use balsamic or red/white wine

Slow Cooker Rosemary and Red Pepper Chicken -

  • Per serving - 200 calories, 4.4 g fat (1.2 g saturated), 4.9 g carbohydrates, 31.9 g protein, 0.7 g fiber (exchanges ½ vegetable, 4 protein, 1 fat)
  • Notes - You could use white wine instead of vermouth; Here are some notes I gathered from the comment section: 1) needs more liquid...chicken broth, water, can of chopped tomatoes, or wine (but if you do this double the cornstarch mixture), 2) needs double the rosemary and oregano, 3) serve over pasta

Slow Cooker Chicken Creole -

  • Per serving - 191 calories, 1.8 g fat (0.4 g saturated), 14.3 g carbohydrates, 29.6 g protein, 2.7 g fiber (exchanges 2 vegetable, 4 protein, 1 fat)
  • Notes - From the comment section: 1) it's may want to adjust the amount of jalapeno, 2) you may want to add some tomato paste and okra (frozen would be fine)

Jeanne's Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce -

  • Per serving - 210 calories, 9.3 g fat, 19.9 g carbohydrates, 14.2 g protein, 5.7 g fiber (exchanges 2 vegetable, 2 protein, 2 fat)
  • Notes - When buying tomato products, read the labels and try to purchase brands without sugar (in any form) as an ingredient; ¼ of a cup of olive oil seems like a lot to me (even though ¼ cup = 4 Tbsp = 12 tsp…and the recipe makes 12 servings…so each serving only ends up with 1 tsp of oil, but there is fat from the sausage and beef too)...I would probably start out with just 2 tablespoons; the sausage is optional; you could substitute 1 1/2 Tbsp of Italian seasoning instead of all of the separate seasonings; make the whole recipe and freeze half to use later; make it vegetarian by omitting the sausage, beef, and turkey and using 24 - 32 oz of sliced mushrooms

Slow Cooker Fajitas -

  • Per serving - 335 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated), 32 g carbohydrates, 29 g protein, 2 g fiber (exchanges 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 3 protein, 2 fat)
    Notes - Sirloin is one of the leaner cuts of beef, however, you could substitute chicken breasts and save even more calories and fat grams; try to find whole wheat tortillas that are around 120 calories…or less; notice the serving is 1 fajita for 335 cals...serve with a side salad (such as carrot-cumin slaw) or a bowl of tortilla soup (such as Campbell's Select Harvest Mexican-Style Chicken Tortilla)

Curried Lentil Soup -

  • Per serving - 169 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 34 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein, 2 g fiber (exchanges 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 protein)
  • Notes - I would use chicken or vegetable broth in place of the hot water


The last thing I want to share with you is a web-site where you can map the distance that you walk/run/bike...

When I run outdoors (sometimes its just too pretty to get on a treadmill!), I'm always interested in knowing how far I went...and this website tells me. Under "Map New Run" you enter your starting address and then on a map you click along the path you took.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Guess How Many Calories...

So, I'm sitting here watching TV and a commercial for this new Kentucky Fried Chicken meal comes on. KFC describes the "Variety Big Box Meal" like this:

"Hungry for all of your KFC favorites and can’t pick just one? Now you don’t have to. Your rumbling stomach doesn’t stand a chance against our new Variety Big Box Meal, which includes a drumstick, a Crispy Strip, an individual box of Popcorn Chicken, two Homestyle sides, a biscuit and a refreshing 32-oz. drink. Fill up on all your favorites!"
I immediately went to the website to look for the nutrition information. It wasn't listed on the Nutrition Guide, but they did have a nutrition calculator. I guess because there are so many components to the meal, you have to calculate it yourself. So I did. I chose mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans (I had to pick at least 1 healthy thing) as my 2 sides and a large Pepsi as my beverage.

And the nutrition totals? Drum roll please....

1450 calories, 64 g fat (98% of DV), 13 g saturated fat (63% DV), 4.5 g trans fat, 175 mg cholesterol (59% DV), 4150 mg sodium (173% DV), 160 g carbs, 79 g sugar (from the Pepsi), 62 g protein

And the incredible thing is that this is made for 1's not a family style meal!

So the next time you are at KFC, please don't order this!