Monday, September 27, 2010

Courageous Meals - 1

Almond Herb Crusted Chicken with Pan Seared Garlic Brussel Spouts, Steamed Broccoli and Sweet Potato Fries

This meal was a combination effort to come up with.  Inspired by my girlfriends wonderful suggestion to use almond meal (seeing how I am an absolute almond fiend!), we had tried out some crusted chicken breast before and it turned out great.  This time around I wanted to give it a new little spin, smaller pieces of chicken, and a little more flavor in the coating.  The brussel sprouts were her idea, and the sweet potato fries, well, they are just damn good and it seemed like the perfect "crunch" for the different textures of food we were making.  The steamed broccoli is a bit of an after-thought, so, if you have any ideas with that one, go ahead and improvise.  I will be writing this in terms of timing the entire meal, rather than each ingredient separately, let me know if it is followable!  Here's what you need:

Main Ingredients:

  • 4 organic, free-range chicken breasts

  • 10-15 small brussel sprouts

  • 1 head of broccoli

  • 3 medium sized sweet potatoes
Additional Needs (serving sizes are totally guessed!):
  • 2-3 cups almond meal
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 small tbsp oregano
  • 1 small tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Italian herb dressing
  • 1.5 tbsp butter (no clue how much oil if you choose to swap oil for butter)(we used soy butter)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Start off by rinsing the chicken breast, then cutting them into small pieces (about 1/2 - 1 inch thick and about 2 inches long or so), go ahead and put those aside for the time being.  

[If you want your chicken to be a bit "thicker", go ahead and crack the eggs, and mix in the Italian herb dressing.  Then place all the chicken pieces in the mixture and let stand] 
Head over to the oven and turn it on to 450 degrees before moving over to the potatoes.

Without washing them, cut the sweet potatoes into 2 inch long, thin slices.  Pile them on to a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, then season to your liking with pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil then mix them around the baking sheet until all the fries are coated.  Now, individually place the fries on the sheet (try not to have them touching each other).  Then slip them on into the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.

After the fries are safe and sound in the oven, slide on over to the brussel sprouts.  Cut the stems off, then cut them in halves.  Heat a pan in medium heat, then add butter and a little olive oil (or, just a bunch of olive oil) and garlic until the garlic is lightly browned.  Remove garlic with a little spoon and set aside in a bowl.  Turn heat to low then place your halved brussel sprouts (flat side down) into buttered pan.  Keep on heat for 15-20 minutes while you take care of the rest of the meal.

Time to move on back to the chicken.  Mix the almond meal and dry seasonings together on a large plate with your hand (or another tool if you prefer), then coat the chicken pieces however heavily you choose.  Here is another opportunity to make them a little heavier, just coat like hell!  If you want to keep them lighter (this is where you would NOT have them soaking in the egg/dressing batter), just quickly dunk them in the batter, then slap them through the almond meal mixture before placing them in the pan.   

At this point, the fries should be removed from the oven and individually flipped over.  Mind your fingers, they'll be hot as hell.  When you put them back in for another 15 minutes, put the chicken on in there with them (this will take about 10-15 minutes to cook as well).
[Keep your eye on the fries at this point, from here on out, depending on how crispy you want them, you'll want to keep them in longer, or take them out earlier.  Your call]

When you have a spare moment, cut free the broccoli heads and place them into a small pot of water, cover, and place over high heat.  Bring that to a boil as you take care of the rest of the food, and let it boil for about 5-8 minutes before draining the water.  That's the easy one.

Now check out the brussel sprouts.  When they are browned on the flat side and tender on the rounded side, take them off and plate them.  Then place the garlic and almond slices back into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes before coating the brussel sprouts with it all.
Finally, check on the chicken (I just cut a thicker piece a little and make sure it's not pink).  Plate it up.

Serve and enjoy (perhaps with a glass of a light, chilled white wine).  What a meal.
Some notes:  

  • If you are on a strict Paleo diet ordeal, just throw on a few more broccoli heads in place of the sweet potato fries, and perhaps take a little time to season them up a notch for some interesting flavor.  Also, swap out the butter (or soy butter for my sake) for straight olive oil with the brussel sprouts.  

  • The amounts listed on here were what we used for 4 pretty good sized chicken breasts.  If you want more, or less, make your changes accordingly.

Courage's Thoughts On This meal: 

This meal is going to be one I come back to (with modifications of course) because it is light and healthy, but fills you up rather well for a chicken and veggie meal.  I personally find it tough to get the right amount of fuel in me during meals because I don't eat tons of grains, I don't eat dairy and I very, very rarely eat red meat.  So, I end up having an extra meal, an extra shake, or, just going back for seconds.  This meal however, because of the thicker coating on the chicken, ends up filling you up wonderfully.  For those of you out there who tend to be a little more active (like I hope most of my readers are!), it's always nice to find ways to get enough fuel in your system without overdoing certain nutrients (um, fats and carbs folks).  

You see, from my experience, when I am under-fueling I tend to find myself craving things like olives, avocados, nuts, fruits and yes, complex carbohydrates!  So, the key is to make sure you are filling yourself up with better choices, and making sure it's all balanced.  This meal is that in a nutshell (no pun intended).   The almond and herb coating, along with the slightly thicker addition of egg and Italian herb dressing add a bit of depth and "oomph" to the naturally lighter quality of the chicken.  The butter/oil brussel sprouts also adds a bit more thickness.  And of course, sweet potatoes in general will be a bit of a filler.

But the main point to make is this:  making good, healthy food is not all that hard at all.  And the second you get started on a dish, it becomes just another fun challenge, or game that you can play with yourself or with friends and/or family.  I hope to inspire people to give making home-cooked meals a try a little more often.  It's nice to know that what you are putting in your mouth and body, you made.

As I get started with this "Courageous Meals" ordeal, I am looking for any and all feedback.  How it's organized, is it understandable, any suggestions for meals, so on so forth.  Let me know people!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage


Michael said...

Sounds like a delicious meal! I'm glad to see you've incorporated some of my nutrition suggestions. I look forward to following your dietary journey.

Michael said...

Looks like a delicious meal! I'm glad you were able to incorporate some of my nutrition suggestions. Keep up the great posts. I look forward to following your dietary journey!