healthy chicken recipe

Easy Slow Cooker Italian Chicken

Chicken in a slow cooker is always an easy way to have dinner simmering, ready to serve and sending wonderful aroma of comfort food - right when you walk in the house from the day! No mess, no fuss, just filling and delicious healthy dinner for your family tonight.

This recipe is designed to serve 4-6 people, but you can easily adjust the size by choosing less or more chicken amounts. (For example: Cut recipe in half if there’s only 2, double if you want to feed up to 8.)

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Here’s how to make it…

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken drumsticks + 4 thighs, skinless (if you purchase chicken with skin-on, just pull it off prior to putting in the slow cooker!)

  • 1/2 cup white wine (for a dry recipe, you can swap sherry wine vinegar or

  • 1 medium white or sweet onion, sliced in rings

  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed

  • 2-3 bay leaves, dried

  • 1-28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, no added salt

  • 2-3 Thyme sprigs, leaves removed or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 Tsp Oregano

  • 1 Tsp Garlic powder or granules

  • 1 Tsp Onion powder

  • Sea or Himalayan pink salt, cracked black pepper

  • Garnish with fresh basil and ground Parmesan if desired.


Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in the slow cooker, pouring the tomatoes and wine over the chicken, then placing the onions and spices over all of it.

  2. Put the heat on low, and cook for 6 hours or so. Ready to serve!

  3. To keep it gluten-free, serve over veggie noodles - like spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. If you enjoy pasta on occasion, try one of these healthier pasta options for a delicious and simple dinner! (One of the suggestions there is still gluten-free!)

Let us know what you think of this simple, but tasty recipe! We’d even love to see your personal pics of how it turned out on our Facebook page FRESH Start for Health!

Grilled Chicken Thighs & Apricots

As the days grow warmer, we tend to migrate outdoors for family meal time in the southwest desert sunshine.  A favorite dinnertime plan around here, grilling is a "cool" way to keep family dinners “hot” (and keep the heat of cooking out of the kitchen!) 

This recipe is an easy way to sweeten up an old go-to: chicken thighs! Enjoy this Grilled Chicken Thighs & Apricots recipe with your own family as an everyday favorite, or wow your summer company with the visual appeal and taste of this superstar dish!

It looks like such a fancy dish, but actually only takes about 15-20 minutes to have ready. Easy and practical is how we do it here in the FRESH Start test kitchens!

Grilled Chicken Thighs & Apricots

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How To Make It

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1/4 cup lower-sugar apricot jam (briskly stirred with 1/4 cup water to make nectar)

  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh mint (optional)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 Tbsp apple cider

  • 1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 4 medium apricots, halved and pitted

  • 2 green onions, chopped

  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios (optional)

  • 1/2 tsp dijon or yellow mustard

Instructions:

  1. Making the sauce: Combine half the nectar, half the mint, the olive oil, vinegar and curry and garlic in a bowl and whisk briskly together. Place the chicken thighs in a gallon-size plastic bag, and pour the mixture in the bowl over them. Seal bag, turn it to coat all the chicken, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

  2. Remove chicken from the bag and throw away the used marinade.

  3. Grill chicken on low-medium heat for about 12-15 minute or until no longer pink (180 degrees F on meat thermometer)

  4. Turn the thighs once midway through grilling.

  5. During the last 5 minutes of grilling the chicken, place the apricots on grill, flesh side down and grill until lightly browned and softened.

  6. For finishing sauce: combine the remaining half of the nectar in bowl with the green onions, pistachios, and mustard and whisk them all together. Drizzle over chicken and apricots right before serving.

NOTE: As with all our recipes, cutting costs and keeping it simple stay at the center - feel free to make this recipe without the pistachios, curry and any of the other higher-cost ingredients if necessary. It’s still a tasty and filling dish even if altered!

IMPORTANT: Our recipes are always portioned to serve around 4 people. Just double the ingredients if you’re feeding a larger family or cut them in half if it’s for 1-2 adults.

What do you think, does this recipe sound like a winner?

I would love to hear about your family's favorite grilling recipes and tips over on our community Facebook page FRESH Start for Health!

How to Grill Chicken & Salmon

Grilling is one of the reasons I enjoy summer so much. The fact that I live in Arizona means I get to do more of it than just during the summer months too! Yep, I’m able to grill year ‘round here. Talk about a happy girl!

Have you discovered the benefit of grilling for a healthier dinner meal plan? SO easy, so light, so yummy!

Here's some specific ideas to help you make healthier (and yummier) salmon and chicken on the grill for your healthy dinners at home.

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How to Create Tender, Savory Salmon on the Grill

  • If salmon is frozen, thaw completely.

  • Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat, lay salmon filets out on flat pan or plate.

  • Squeeze 1 full lemon evenly over the salmon.

  • Sprinkle 3-4 garlic cloves, minced, over the fish.

  • Press the garlic into the flesh.

  • Sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper over salmon and salt lightly.

  • Sprinkle ground onion, ground garlic, paprika and a light shake of chili powder if you like a little more flavor.

  • Place salmon on light spritz of olive oil on aluminum foil packet on grill (if it has skin, you can place directly on grill plate - tastes better this way, in my opinion.

  • Your fillets are now ready to grill slowly over low heat, for about 15 minutes, or until done.

Additional Tip: Use fresh herbs, like dill, for extra flavor over salmon.

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Grilling Tips for Pull-Apart Chicken Breasts

  • Buy full boneless skinless breasts instead of tenderloins to save money.

  • Cut chicken breasts into 2-3 pieces (tenderloin-style) to promote quicker cooking and portion control.

  • Marinate breast pieces in a small amount of Italian salad dressing. I use Italian dressing because it’s a neutral flavor, keeps the chicken moist and from getting slimy/tasting weird as the week progresses.

Make Ahead Tips: Grill enough on Sunday for meals through Wednesday, then midweek, grill a new batch for the remainder of the week’s meals.

Cooking ahead like this cuts your prep time down and is a delicious grab and make option for those days you don’t want to be in the kitchen too long. 

Cooking for meals ahead of time will give you a quick protein choice for soups, salads, pastas, and sandwiches. It will be easier to stick with a healthier meal plan when you have these ready to grab and add, versus cooking them separately for each day’s meals.

Tenderness Tip:  Be sure to grill the chicken until JUST done (they’ll be white, NO pinkness), on medium heat.  If you grill them on high heat or too quickly, you’ll end up with tough meat!

Coaching tip: I've had people ask me about the "alleged" link between cooking on a grill and cancer. After researching this specific topic even further, I’ve found that so far, research has not concluded that grilling causes cancer. However, cooking foods too fast, at too high of a temperature and for too long can release carcinogenic compounds that contribute to some cancers.

So a good rule of thumb for safely grilling is:

Cook (and Grill) Low and Slow!

Got some of your own grilling tips you’d like to share?

Leave your grilling secrets in the comments below or feel free to share them with us in our (free) FRESH Start Club!

How to Make Crock Pot Shredded Chicken {BONUS Chicken Enchilada Recipe!}

This shredded chicken recipe is a great “protein base” recipe, so that you have moist, tasty shredded chicken on hand for entrees later in the weekly meal plan, like salads, tacos, enchiladas or even to add to soup.

Cook up a large batch, then shred and freeze or refrigerate in pre-portioned freezer bags ready to pull out and use later. Makes nightly cooking too easy, and everyone loves the rich, brothy taste of this chicken (even the picky eaters!)

The chicken is also ready to be additionally seasoned, for instance, use chili powder and garlic for a Mexican-flavored dish, or taco seasoning for a taco salad protein topper!

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken & Healthy Chicken Enchilada Recipe.jpg

Here’s how you make it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can (or half box) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6-7 whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine (white is best)

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients together into a crock pot, cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4. Once chicken pulls apart easily, it is ready! Let chicken cool, remove from crockpot, and shred. You’ve got shredded chicken!

Here’s a quick & comforting recipe you can whip up using this easy crock pot shredded chicken: 

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups crock-pot shredded chicken (soaked in ¼ cup of enchilada sauce)
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 1 small can mild enchilada sauce
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional, as topping)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat the enchilada sauce in a deep fry pan over low heat.
  3. Place corn tortillas, 2-3 at a time, into the saucepan and soak them until covered by sauce. Remove, lay flat on plate.
  4. Line one side of corn tortilla with small amount of chicken, sprinkle half handful of cheese, then roll and place into baking pan (9x9 size works if the enchiladas are rolled tight, 13x9 is better if you want them looser.)
  5. Once all enchiladas are rolled and placed together into pan, spread remaining enchilada sauce over the top, and sprinkle remaining cheese.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Then remove foil, put oven on broil (high) and bake for another 3-4 minutes. Watch it carefully as cheese may burn if left too long on broil.
  7. Remove finished enchiladas and enjoy with a side of rice and beans!

FRESH n’ Healthy Tip: Garnish with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream – it’s a protein-rich & healthier fat option!

If you enjoyed these recipes, we think you might like these articles & recipes too:

Turkey Carrot Quinoa Meatballs

Napa Cabbage & Chicken Salad Recipe

Healthy Fried Chicken Tenders

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Chicken N' Avocado Bagel Sandwich

Are you tired of trying to figure out what to have for a quick meal?  Why not make it super simple?  

Here is a bagel sandwich loaded with protein that you can make for your family when they need a nutritious dinner in a hurry! 

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Combine it with some tortilla chips and a  salsa or hummus dip from our selection here and you will have a complete meal in minutes.  

Here's how to make this easy sandwich!

Ingredients

  • Leftover grilled chicken breast pieces
  • Alfalfa sprouts or any other microgreens
  • Avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Whipped cream cheese
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Whole wheat bagel (toasted if you prefer - we use mini-bagels to keep carb/calorie count lower!)

Instructions

  1. Spread whipped cream cheese on bagel.
     
  2. Add the chicken breast, 2-3 avocado slices, red onion strands, and microgreens.
     
  3. Filling, rich in protein, fiber, and nutrients – this sandwich is a winner every time!
     
  4. Just multiply these ingredients for the amount of sandwiches you desire to make.
     

Nutrition Information:  One cup of chicken has 231 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 43 grams of protein.  It's low in sodium and is a good source of B6, phosphorus, niacin, and selenium.

Chicken & Spinach Melt Recipe

This healthy version of a classic favorite will have your family asking for more! 

It's a great balanced meal served with either gluten-free or whole grain pasta, (or with spaghetti squash, like in this pic!) It's filling with or without more sides.

Chicken & Spinach Melt Recipe 

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How To Make IT:

Ingredients:

•    8 small chicken breast (boneless, skinless) cutlets (Make them ahead to save time!)
•    1 cup Panko bread crumbs
•    1/4 cup olive or canola oil
•    1/2 cup homemade marinara sauce (recipe here!)
•    2 cups baby spinach
•    1/4 - 1/2 cup grated or sliced soft mozzarella or real Parmesan cheese

chick parm ingredients.jpg

Instructions:

  1. Coat the chicken cutlets in the bread crumbs, pressing the chicken gently into the crumbs to help them stick to the breast. 
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  3. Place the breaded cutlets into the hot oil, and cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate to rest. (Or save time by using pre-made cutlets from this recipe.)
  4. Spread 1/2 the homemade marinara over the bottom of a lasagna dish, and top with the cooked cutlets.  Place the spinach over the chicken, and the rest of the marinara over that. 
  5. Then top the dish with the cheese.  Broil for 3-4 minutes on high, or until the cheese begins to brown.
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Try this simple, affordable 20-minute recipe, then let me know what your family thinks of it in the comments below! 

You can always post your healthy cooking questions or suggestions in our free online community as well!!!  Come join the lively, ongoing conversation!

Mexican Grilled Chicken Salad

We just made this salad at the Healthy Changes Cooking Class we held Monday evening - mmm mm good!  I thought it would be great to share this delicious recipe with you!

Salads are still healthy – very healthy – IF they are loaded with rich greens, raw veggies, and lean proteinThis salad is exactly that, full of all the right ingredients, and super tasty.  Just squeeze a little lime over the top, and if using dressing, you only need a tablespoon drizzle.  The salad itself is so tasty, you don’t need much dressing for taste!

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Mexican Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe

Ingredients

•    Bed of greens – spinach, romaine, or other greens
•    15 oz. can black beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained
•    Medium avocado, sliced lengthwise
•    1 cup frozen or fresh corn, slightly toasted over medium heat until blackened
•    1 mango, sliced lengthwise
•    2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced in long strips
•    Red onion, sliced thin and long
•    Queso fresco, crumbled as topping
•    If desired, zesty tortilla strips as topping
•    Chopped cilantro, lime for dressing

Instructions

Toss all ingredients together for a flavorful, healthy treat! You can chill ahead of time or serve immediately. Enjoy!

Enjoyed this FRESH dish? Get recipes for more delicious ideas right here in our Recipe Box!

Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad Recipe

The tasty greens and protein in this Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad are always a hit at our house!

This easy dinner recipe is a family (and guest!) favorite – we never get tired of throwing this easy, fresh dish together for a light dinner. 

Even though it's a salad, you might be surprised at just how filling it is just served by itself for a meal. The chicken and cabbage combination delivers lots of tasty nutrients, which help keep you full longer than most salads, yet it doesn't feel heavy on your stomach. 

Even the kids like it, and ask for this crunchy entrée often!

Here's how to make the Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad for your own family:

Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad Recipe

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 3 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 Head Napa Cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • Handful chopped cilantro
  • Crunchies for topping:
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 package ramen noodles, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds

    Dressing:
     
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Combine the shredded cabbage, green onions, and cilantro in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, adding the ramen, sesame seeds, and almonds to the pan. Toast the mixture for about 3-4 minutes, or until browned nicely. Make sure not to burn them.
  3. To make the dressing, set a small saucepan on high heat, and add in all the ingredients together. Stir frequently, until the mixture comes to a quick boil, then immediately remove the pan from the heat. Let the dressing cool to room temp.
  4. Toss the salad mixture, crunchies, chicken, and dressing together just before serving for this quick and delicious dinner!
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Cabbage really is an under-rated superfood - rich in many nutrients, but most notably Vitamin C.  Did you know that cabbage is actually higher in vitamin C than oranges?  This salad is also a delicious source of potassium, sulphur, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E!

I would love to hear how you liked the Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad after you make it! Share your food pics and happy faces in our (FREE)  FRESH Start Online Community on Facebook or you can post a comment right here on this blog!