Healthy Italian

The temperature is dropping and fall is in full swing here and Japan. I wish the weather would stay like this forever. This three-day weekend marked the anniversary of the founding of this prefecture, Gunma, so I decided to try my hand at something I’ve never made before.

First let’s talk about the pesto that tops the whole wheat pasta. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve set foot on my native soil in America and it’s probably been much longer since I’ve had pesto. I think I got the flavors right, but I wasn’t sure if the consistency should be a bit thinner. The pesto was quite easy and fun to make. I ripped fresh basil leaves off the stalk (die die die) and packed it in the food processor (die die die) leaving just enough room for 3 cloves of garlic and a handful of pine nuts. I pulsed it for a bit (die die die die) then I slowly added extra virgin olive oil a few tablespoons at a time and I continued to blend until the mixture became smooth.

Next the chicken breast tenders. I marinated them in extra virgin olive oil and Italian seasoning while I made the soup. When the soup was completed I broiled the chicken tenders about 5mins on each side.

Now the veggie soup. This was my first attempt at the soup and I made A LOT. Which I divided into 6 portions and stored in my freezer. I started with about 7 cups of low sodium chicken broth, 2 red potatoes cut into 1″ cubes, 1 medium carrot cut into thin quarter moons, half a medium yellow onion diced, and 1 cup of sliced celery. I brought the ingredients to a boil then reduced the heat to medium and covered until the potatoes began to get tender.

Then I added 2 cups of sliced zucchini, 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, and 1 limo pepper for a little heat. I brought the soup back up to a boil then reduced to a simmer until the zucchini was tender. I seasoned with only a bit of black pepper, there was enough heat from the limo pepper, and a pinch of salt.

total time including prep: 1hour

Guilt Free Chicken Tenders

It’s Tuesday evening here in Japan, and I wanted some comfort food. Something I really loved as a kid were chicken tenders mmmm….deep fried goodness, which is the exact reason I cannot eat them. In a stroke of genius I found a way to bake chicken tenders and still have that satisfying crunch (I love to crush things) without the extra fat from deep frying. The secret is in the coating.

First I took about 6oz of chicken breast tenders and marinated it in soy milk, poultry seasoning, lemon pepper, paprika, and 1 large egg white. As for the crunchy coating I took about a cup of bran flakes and crushed them into a coarse powder in a food processor (die die die die die die).

*you can see my chopped broccoli ready to go in the steamer basket in the upper right hand corner*

Next I took about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and spread it onto a sheet of tin foil with a paper towel. After dredging each tender in the bran flakes I placed them on the sheet and broiled (I only have a broiler here) them for about 6mins on each side.

Now you can’t have chicken tenders without dipping sauce. I made a super easy and relatively guilt free honey mustard dipping sauce. It calls for 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of mustard, simply mix together, and enjoy!

Chocolate Protein Pancakes

I dunno why but Sunday is pancake day for me. But since I started taking my fitness and nutrition seriously I had to dump the traditional style pancake. My usual Sunday morning pancake is usually made with buckwheat flour and oats, but today I decided to try a different kind. It was very simple and easy to make:

6 egg whites

1 pack of quaker instant oats

2 scoops chocolate flavor whey protein powder

Simply blend all the ingredients until smooth. Unfortunately in Japan, non-stick cooking spray has not caught on, so instead I used a tablespoon of canola oil to coat my non stick pan. Then simply cook like a normal pancake.

As a topping I used 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.The texture really reminded me of a traditional pancake, and I was more than pleased with the flavor. All in all you can still be healthy while having a comfort food such as pancakes. It was an enjoyable treat after my morning cardio workout.