Oven Fried Chicken {Healthy Comfort Food}

 IMG_0472.JPG 
Forget greasy fried chicken! This oven fried chicken recipe has all of the juiciness and crunch you’d expect from fried chicken, without the added fat and calories.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
  • 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup cornflakes, crushed finely
  • 1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces*

* I’m a huge fan of dark meat, so I use boneless skinless chicken thighs. 2 thighs per serving.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, Cajun seasoning, pepper and cayenne pepper together in a medium size bowl. Place buttermilk and corn flake crumbs in 2 separate shallow bowls.
  3. Roll chicken in flour mixture and evenly coat each side. Next dip chicken into buttermilk and then corn flake crumbs.
  4. Place coated chicken on your prepared baking sheet. Spray chicken with a light coating of the cooking spray.
  5. Bake until chicken is tender and no longer pink, about 25 to 30 minutes (there is no need to flip the chicken during baking).
    Makes 4 servings.

For those of you using the 21 Day Fix this is roughly 1 yellow and 1 red.

Once you have your first round of the program under your belt, try not to stress out over your containers. Life should be about balance and making healthier choices to keep yourself headed toward your goals and this recipe does that…even if you don’t have exact container counts.

Anytime you skip the KFC drive-thru, search for a healthier recipe and go to the store to buy the ingredients to make it, you’re on the right track!

What would be your side dish of choice with this chicken? We opted for some zoodles quickly sauteed with garlic.

blog sig

Shepherd’s Pie {Healthy Comfort Food}

Healthy Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie and comfort food go hand in hand to me. Mashed potatoes, beef, veggies and a creamy sauce….yuuuuum!!

In this version, I have lightened things up a lot. There is no butter, milk, cream or sour cream to be found, but there is still a lot of comforting flavor!

Healthy Shepherd’s Pie

Potato Topping:

  • 2 lbs Yukon gold or Russet potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsps Greek yogurt
  • salt & pepper to taste

Meat Filling:

  • 1.5 lbs 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas & carrots
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil potatoes in a medium pot of salted water until cooked and soft. Drain and mash with chicken broth, Greek yogurt, salt and pepper, set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. In a large saute pan brown meat over medium high heat, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and sauté on medium heat about 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the flour, frozen vegetables, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Simmer on medium for about 8-10 minutes, until sauce thickens.
  5. Spread the meat filling on the bottom of 9×13 casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, then place under the broiler 1 to 2 minutes until the potatoes turn golden. Remove from oven and let it cool 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 6 servings.  

 

 

21 Day Fix and Fix Extreme Containers: 1.5 Yellow, 1 Red, 1 Green

For those of you following the 21 Day Fix, you can cut back on your yellow container and tack on an extra green by cutting the amount of potatoes and adding mashed cauliflower. The two mix together wonderfully and you keep the great potato flavor without going over on a yellow container.

Want to cut all of the potato? Top with just mashed cauliflower. Not sure how to make mashed cauliflower? Just steam your cauliflower, toss into a food processor with the Greek yogurt and broth and pulse it all together until creamy. (Reserve a little cooking water or add some more broth if it is too thick.)

You can also substitute mashed sweet potato for your topping!

This is a really a forgiving dish and a great way to use up veggies that you may in the fridge.

I hope you are enjoying this Healthy Comfort Food segment. Don’t forget to share YOUR favorite comfort food with me below, so I can try and share a healthy alternative to it.

blog sig

 

Football Snacks to Keep You on Track

Football

Are you ready for some football?!

I know I am!

This month I was going to run a 7 day group focused on football snacks to keep you on track, but I didn’t have any takers for it (insert sad Nikki face here). As a result, I decided to turn my idea into a blog post that might help some football fans who I have not personally connected with on Facebook yet.

(Hint Hint…you can like my Facebook page OR leave a comment below so we can connect!)

Fall equals football season, there is no denying that. Some of us can’t wait for Saturdays, so we can cheer on our favorite college teams, some are die hard NFL fans, some are into both and let’s face it…there are people who don’t care about who’s playing or who wins, they’re just in it for the snacks and the beer. I don’t know many of them, but I hear they do exist.

Personally I have always been into the NFL more (Go Broncos!) but over the last few years, I’ve been watching more Big 10 games and trying to keep all of the college rules and teams straight. I married into a family who takes football very seriously and likes to trash talk, which is really a lot of fun. Getting together with others on a Sunday to talk smack and drink a few beers is a great way to catch up and socialize, but the food that is typically served at these gathering can really screw up your week if you are trying to be healthier.

Below are some links to recipes that I love to make, as well as some that I plan on trying the football season. The goal is to help myself stay on track, while not feeling like an outcast who only eats steamed chicken and broccoli. I hope you give them a try and if YOU have any favorites that I did not list, I would LOVE to hear about them in the comments section below!

 Football Appetizers

Healthy Football Appetizers:

Football Main Dish

Healthy Football Main Dishes:

Chili, Pizza and Taco’s just come to mind when I hear football. For you, it might be burgers or sausage subs. When you select your main dishes for game day, just keep a few things in mind:

  1. Keep it lean. (Sub turkey for beef or go 90% or leaner with ground beef. Turkey sausage is also super yummy!)
  2. Keep it hand held or easy to eat. (Sliders are a perfect way to enjoy burgers on game day!)
  3. Keep it simple. (You’ll want to watch the game, not be chained to the kitchen!)

As you can see, I kept things simple and flavorful. Good fun doesn’t have to be fried, full of fat or time consuming to make. These recipes are just the tip of iceberg and I encourage everyone to search Pinterest for more ideas, share some your favorite healthy game day snacks or even share an unhealthy favorite that you might need help cleaning up!

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box by using cauliflower pizza crusts, offering Energy Bites or Cookie Dough Dip as a sweet treat instead of cookies or using mini peppers to make some Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers!

My final tip is something that you already know…… LIMIT EMPTY CALORIES FROM BEER AND ALCOHOL! I know having a beer while watching football makes the experience feel complete, and it’s okay to have one or two. It’s when you begin drinking to excess that you run into problems. As with everything in life, moderation is key!

Have fun with your food this football season and best of luck to your team!

blog sig

{21 Day Fix} Beach Friendly Snacks

Pool SnacksLet’s talk beach & pool food!

You’re working out hard, doing great with your meals and then your friends or family want to hit the pool or the beach to cool off and enjoy the summer weather. You begin to freak out because this is out of your norm and you don’t want to ruin your progress with the 21 Day Fix or your fitness routine.

Don’t worry! Here are some healthy options to pack and take with you for a little fun in the sun.

21 Day Fix Beach Friendly Snacks:

  • Fruit & veggies teamed up with some hummus, PB, guacamole or yogurt dip are all quick, simple & nutritious option to prepare the night before.
  • Clean out old PB jars or use a mason jar to pack celery, apples it baby carrots with some PB or hummus. (This will also help to reduce getting sand in your food at the beach)
  • Plastic soda cups with lids make awesome salad containers. Just layer your ingredients (put your dressing on the bottom) and stick a fork in the top, for easy grab and go lunch!
  • Wraps are another great option. One of my favorites is nitrate-free turkey or ham with hummus, lettuce, tomato and a little broccoli slaw for crunch. Want something lower carb? Ditch the tortilla and use romaine lettuce as a wrap instead.

All you need is a cooler with some ice-packs, a little prep time the night before or the morning before you leave and you’ll be on track to avoid buying a hot dog, pretzel of other junk options that you typically find at either location.

Do you have a favorite pool or beach snack? If so, please share below!

blog sig

Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers {21 Day Fix Friendly}

SantaFe stuffed peppersWhy yes, this is another recipe with Mexican flavors. I can’t help it. I’m obsessed.

There is just something so satisfying about healthy Mexican dishes. I don’t know if it is the bold flavors, the balance between those flavors or the bright rainbow of colors that you end up with on your plate. Plus it’s an excuse to eat avocado, right?!

I am a big fan of stuffed peppers, especially since starting The 21 Day Fix. It’s just a great way to get that extra green container in, plus peppers are pretty darn inexpensive, especially as the summer approaches.

The other night, I set out to make a stuffed pepper recipe from The Whole30 book I received for my birthday, but I forgot an ingredient so I decided to hop on Pinterest and see what caught my eye and these Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers were the winner. I used a recipe from For The Love of Dessert as my base and changed things up a little.

Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1lb lean ground turkey
  2. 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  3. 3/4 cups frozen corn (Trader Joe's Frozen Roasted Corn would be awesome in this)
  4. 1 jalapeno, chopped (remove the seeds for less heat)
  5. 1 large diced tomato (I used 1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained)
  6. 1 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1 medium onion, chopped
  8. 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  9. 3 Tbsps taco seasoning (see link below for clean eating version)
  10. kosher salt to taste
  11. 4 bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeded
  12. shredded cheese of choice for topping
  13. 1/3 cup reduced sodium chicken stock (you could also just use water)
  14. 1 tbsp chopped scallions, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown turkey and season with salt. When turkey is cooked or browned, add onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, black beans and tomatoes. Mix well, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Remove lid, and add corn. Simmer an additional 5 minutes or longer-- until any excess liquid evaporates. Season turkey mixture with taco seasoning, combining well.
  3. To prepare peppers, cut peppers lengthwise and remove seed and stem (rinse the pepper with water to remove any seeds and dry once cut). Place peppers, cut side up in an oven proof dish. Pour chicken broth into the dish, around the peppers. Fill each pepper, until full, with your mixture. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40-45 minutes until peppers become tender.
  4. Take dish out of the oven and remove foil to sprinkle a small amount of shredded cheese on top. Once topped with shredded cheese return to oven for an additional 5 minutes of until cheese has melted. Top with chopped scallions if you'd like and enjoy!
Notes
  1. 21 Day Fix Container Values: 2 pepper halves = 1 green, 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 blue (if you top with cheese)
Get Fit With Nikki http://www.getfitwithnikki.com/
 These peppers were packed with flavor and really hit the spot! I topped mine with some shredded mozzarella, but pepper-jack would be a great choice too. You could even skip the cheese and top them with  some of the guacamole I shared with you yesterday. {Click here to get the recipe}

If you’d like to speed up the cooking process on these, you could pop the pepper halves into the oven while your filling is cooking, to soften up, then fill, bake and top with cheese 5 minutes before they’re ready.

Looking for a healthier taco seasoning option? Make your own! I love the recipe for Clean Eating Taco Seasoning over on The Gracious Pantry. {Click here to view it.}

I promise my next post will NOT feature food with a Mexican theme. I’ve been dreaming about Memorial Day BBQ food, so I’m pretty sure that will be next!

blog sig

 

Cuban Style Rice & Beans with Turkey

Cuban Style Rice & Beans with Turkey
Last week I was sitting and waiting as my husband got his hair cut and a copy of Clean Eating Magazine caught my eye. As I flipped through the pages, I saw a photo of Cuban Style Rice & Beans with Turkey with the page number for the recipe. I immediately flipped to the page only to see that someone else had ripped the page out of the magazine and taken it with them.

Talk about rude! Why couldn’t they just whip out their smartphone and take a photo of it? Sheesh!

As we drove home, I tried looking up the recipe on the magazines website, but I couldn’t find it and that made me sad. I checked Pinterest too and nothing. I even checked the magazine section at Target while I was there and they didn’t have that particular edition anymore. Sigh.

Today, while checking out my Pinterest feed, a photo caught my eye. It was the Cuban Style Rice & Beans with Turkey that I had been searching for! Clean Eating Magazine had finally uploaded the recipe to their site and pinned it! Oh happy day!

Of course I quickly clicked on the photo to check out the recipe, made a list of the few ingredients I was missing and hurried off to the store so I could make this dish for dinner.

I had to make a few tweaks to the recipe because a) the grocery store I went to didn’t have any poblano peppers and b) I thought I had oregano on hand but I was mistaken.

Despite my two slight changes, this dish turned out really good and I will definitely be making it again!

Cuban Style Rice & Beans with Turkey
Serves 6
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 lb lean ground turkey
  5. 1 tsp ground cumin
  6. 1 tsp dried oregano ( I used Mrs. Dash Mediterranean seasoning)
  7. 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  8. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  9. 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced (I used a large jalapeno)
  10. 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  11. 2 tbsp unsalted tomato paste
  12. 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  13. 2 cups canned unsalted black beans, drained and rinsed
  14. 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  15. 1 cup brown rice (I used jasmine rice)
  16. Juice of 1 large lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large deep skillet with a tight fitting lid, heat oil on medium-high.
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 minute.
  4. Add turkey, cumin, oregano, black pepper and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until turkey is well browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add poblano and bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Push turkey mixture to sides of skillet, and to center of skillet, add tomato paste and vinegar and cook, stirring constantly, for 20 to 30 seconds.
  7. Add beans, broth, rice, lime juice and 1/2 cup water, stirring together all ingredients to combine.
  8. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve with lime wedges.
Notes
  1. I would consider this 2 Yellow and 1 Red on the 21 Day Fix and would round it out by serving with a vegetable or small salad.
Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine
Get Fit With Nikki http://www.getfitwithnikki.com/
 This recipe was very simple to make and it’s super budget friendly too, which is something I honestly look for when meal prepping.

If you’re doing the 21 Day Fix, you may cringe at the number of yellows this dish uses, so you might want to save it for your second round or have it on a day when you might do some extra activity outside of the Fix workout for the day.

I really want to try this with just the oregano and a poblano pepper to see if they flavor profile is really different, but in all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of oregano, so the swap didn’t bother me.

After lifting weights and running, this meal hit the spot and it’s nice to know I have a new recipe to add into the mix.

blog sig

Loaded Sweet Potato Skin

Loaded Sweet Potato BannerQuick. Simple. Easy.

Those are 3 traits I look for in my lunch items and this recipe for Loaded Sweet Potato fits all three….plus it’s 21 Day Fix friendly!

I had picked up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, as part of my meal prep on Sunday. I shredded it up and tossed the dark and white meat into a container to use for lunches during the week. I know, chicken breast is considered the almighty of healthy meats, but I’m a fan of dark meat. It’s moist and has more flavor to me, so I mix it all together to get the best of both worlds.

While searching for new recipes to try, I found this one for Sweet Potato Skins with Chicken and Spinach, which I really wanted to try. I ended up using it as inspiration because a) I didn’t feel like making the whole recipe and b) I like to be a culinary rebel at times.

(Truth is, I was just lazy and didn’t want to look up the recipe so I tried to remember it as best I could and winged it.)

This lunch came together in under 10 minutes and we ridiculously yummy!

Loaded Sweet Potato
Serves 1
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 medium sweet potato (cut in half)
  2. 3/4 cup of shredded, cooked chicken (1 red container)
  3. 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  4. chili powder, to taste
  5. cumin powder, to taste
  6. garlic powder, to taste
  7. pepper, to taste
  8. avocado, guacamole or greek yogurt, for topping.
Instructions
  1. Microwave your potato until cooked, cut in half and scoop out a small amount of the inside, save for another meal.
  2. While the potato is cooking, place your chicken in a pan over medium-high heat. Add a little water or chicken stock to keep it moist while reheating. Sprinkle with spices to suite your tastes.
  3. Add baby spinach to the pan with the chicken and cook until wilted.
  4. Top potato with chicken & spinach mixture. Top with a dollop or guacamole, slice avocado or a dollop of greek yogurt.
Notes
  1. You could ever use a sprinkle of shredded cheese if you'd like on this, depending on what containers you have for the day.
  2. This recipe (minus topping) equals 1 Yellow, 1 Red and 1 Green container on the 21 Day Fix Program.
Get Fit With Nikki http://www.getfitwithnikki.com/
 The key to simplicity with this recipe is having the cooked chicken on hand. Rotisserie chickens are a really great meal prep item to have on hand, or you could roast one up yourself when they go on sale at the grocery store. They can be used in chicken salad, quesadillas, quick and easy taco’s, wraps and on pizza.

They’re a blank slate and are just begging for a little creativity and seasoning!

Do you use rotisserie chickens or pre-cook chicken to have on hand for quick and simple meals? If so, what is your favorite way to prepare them?

blog sig