In honor of National Family Meals Month, I decided to share one of my favorite meals I love to prepare for my family. Why do I like this meal at home? It is so similar to eating a platter dinner at a Mexican restaurant, but MUCH HEALTHIER! It is FULL OF FLAVOR. It is QUICK & EASY. The chicken is always moist!
This meal made at home is the perfect example of everything that we often discuss with so many of our patients and clients. Not only is this meal an example of balancing your plate (following a MyPlate pattern), but it also exemplifies choosing more nutritious foods (“eating a rainbow”), incorporating fiber, choosing healthier fats, and how to reduce calories in your families favorite foods. Just by simple choices, this family meal is:
- High protein, that helps with feelings of fullness and satisfaction
- Nutrient dense, and a good source of fiber
- Significantly lower in calories than eating out
- Very little added fats, but contains healthy fats to support your health
- Colorful based upon the vegetable (or fruit) choices
- Includes four of the five MyPlate Food Groups.
The best part of making this meal tonight… My daughter came up and asked: “Can I help make dinner?” … and she learned how to use the emersion blender.
In closing, I would like to make a couple of disclaimers about the pictures included. First, the picture of the meal, was MY PLATE – actual foods pictured were served and eaten “as is,” by myself and my family. The only thing “staged” about this meal, was that I placed the foods on the plate in a similar fashion to what your Mexican Dinner Platter would look like in the restaurant -- with your beans, entrée, cheese, sour cream, and little lettuce salad. Secondly, because this is everyday life… my meal pictures were taken from my cell phone.
Finally, a confession… this Registered Dietitian Nutritionist does have 11-inch plates in her house… But, most of the time my family does eat off of the “salad plate” that is closer to 6-inches in diameter. Recommended plate size, to help with appropriate serving size, is approximately 9 or 10-inches.
RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS
Prep time = 30-minutes.
Number of Servings = 4 (Meal adjusts easily depending on number eating).
Estimated Nutritional Content per Platter/Meal via MyFitness Pal Entry:
Total Calories ~450 kcal/platter – Total Protein ~45 grams – Total Fat ~14 g
Total Carbohydrate ~30 grams – Fiber ~11 grams
MyPlate Food Groups Included: Protein, Starch, Vegetables, and Dairy
4-4oz Chicken Breasts
- Your choice to meet the tastes, flavor, heat, and spice your family desires.
- Your choice: traditional “refried” (no added fat); “refried” black beans (no added fat; whole pinto; or whole black.
½ c. Shredded Cheese
2-4 cups raw spinach
1-whole avocado (8-slices)
Bell Pepper Rings (Choose Red, Yellow, or Orange for variety)
Sour Cream Substitute (I used 2% milkfat, cottage cheese)
- Just blend/puree low-fat cottage cheese to make a creamy & delicious sour cream substitute! Easy and no additional ingredients needed!
- 2 Tbsp Serving of blended cottage cheese = 40 kcal, 6 g pro, 1 g fat vs. 2 Tbsp Serving of Regular Sour Cream = 60 kcal, 1 g pro, 6 g fat.
Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken breasts in a 9 x 9 or 9 x 13 covered dish (may want to lightly oil the bottom with healthy oil of your choice). Cover with salsa. Place lid on dish. Put in the oven. Bake for approximately 30-minutes, or until cooked thoroughly to a minimum center/internal temperature of 165.
While chicken is cooking, heat beans on stovetop until heated through and hot.
Puree the cottage cheese into the Sour Cream Substitute. I used my emersion blender for a quick and easy job, and for easy clean up. If the cottage cheese is too thick for the emersion blender, may add a little bit of milk to help with ease of blending. (See picture of finished product).
Prepare salad and vegetables (spinach, bell peppers, avocado). Many popular Mexican restaurants use shredded iceberg lettuce for the little side salad; I replaced it with spinach and added additional bell pepper slices and avocado slices to increase nutritional density and value.
When chicken is done baking, and beans are done heating – Sprinkle and garnish with shredded cheese.
Last, but not least -- plate, serve, and eat! Enjoy!!