Chicken breasts have a very bad reputation of being a tasteless, uninteresting meat. This reputation is, in part, due to the fact that it has practically no fat or very little – everybody knows that fat equals taste. Take lamb, for example, nobody has ever complained about lamb being a boring meat – it has tons of fat! Or a duck for that matter – you don’t need to do much to a duck breast (other than properly render the fat) to make it taste amazing. Chicken breasts, not so much! They need lots of love and attention for anybody to say: “Oh that’s a delicious piece of meat.” However, many people shy away from flavour and even think that food should be bland in order to be healthy. I’m here to show you that that’s not the case and you can even skip the fat!
I’m not surprised that so many people fall of the healthy eating wagon if what they feed themselves is devoid of taste. I would not want to eat bland chicken breasts day in and day out. Eventually anybody, no matter how strong of a will power they have, would give up. Food should be fuel for the body, but it should also taste good in order for you to want to eat it again and again. If food that you perceive as healthy is devoid of flavour you are bound to abandon it and turn to more palatable foods that might not be as nutritious. So, make healthy food yummy and you will never have to seek the comfort of empty calories. Here is what I do with pretty much all my meat:
For ease of cooking I like to cut up my chicken breasts in small pieces (I use my kitchen shears – they are meant for this and work like a charm). I put the pieces in a large bowl and add the following for marinating:
- 2 tbsp of mustard (any will do, but do check for ingredients to avoid added sugar).
- Splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
- Splash of liquid smoke – trust me, this little condiment will make your food as tasty as bacon without the calories!
- Spices and herbs – salt, pepper, smoked paprika, sumac and any other combination that you might have in your pantry. I also like to add some nutritional yeast for cheesy tones. For herbs you might want to try thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, marjoram, sage (not all at once 😉
- You can also add oil, if you wish, but I find it difficult to account for when counting calories from oil in this meal, so I skip it. I find that the spices I add make the chicken flavourful enough, that I don’t need to add extra calories from oils. But it is entirely up to you and I am very confident that the right oils would make the chicken pop even more.
Mix it all well and let sit for a while. Ideally you would want to let it marinate overnight, but I know how busy most of us are and realize that sometimes planning meals doesn’t happen until the day of. So, leave it out while you prep other components of your meal.
I like to use my oven as much as possible (hence the reason why it’s usually in a state, just ask how difficult it is for me to find some time to set the self clean on it), so I will divide my chicken in several portions, for this one I divided the batch in 4. I wrap each portion in some aluminium foil, close tight and put them on a baking sheet and off into the oven they go. I set the timer for 30 minutes and forget about it. I like baking the chicken, as opposed to frying it, because: 1. I can utilize those 30 minutes prepping other things and 2. I don’t need to add oil to my chicken and still end up with moist, delicious piece of meat.
And that is all! It might not look very special, but baking it this way makes it very flavourful and still healthy. Don’t be afraid of adding flavour to your dishes – they make your eating experience so much more pleasant. As long as you are careful about the type of condiments you use, there is no reason why you should shy away from them. Make sure you read the labels on the spice bottles, because some of them do contain questionable ingredients like sugar in all its shapes and forms, soybean or canola oil, MSG and a slew of other unpronounceable ingredients. If in doubt use salt and pepper and dry or fresh herbs.