Say goodbye to bland and dry and hello to juicy, can’t-believe-this-is-healthy bird
A single chicken breast packs a whopping 23 grams of metabolism-revving protein—and is about as bland as eating air. Luckily the stand-by breast may also be the easiest meat to infuse with flavor without adding ridiculous amounts of calories.
If your taste buds are itching for something they can actually, well, taste, try these single-serving toppings, coatings, and infusers to turn your blah dinner into a mouthwatering meal you can grill, bake, or saute. Cooking for more than one? Simply multiply the measurements by the number of mouths you have to feed.
Mix together for finger-licking goodness. Slather sauces and glazes on before or after cooking (if you decide to bake your chicken, keep an eye on the dish and add water or chicken broth as needed to prevent thicker sauces from charring). Spoon salsas atop a cooked breast.
Mango & Avocado: 3 tablespoons each rinsed and drained black beans and cubed mango, 1/4 cubed avocado, 1 tablespoon chopped red bell pepper, 1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño, 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, and 1 pinch diced fresh cilantro. –Tiffany Mendell, R.D., of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life in New York City
Pesto: In a food processor, blend 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, 1 teaspoon each pine nuts and freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, and 1/4 diced garlic clove. Add 1/4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon low-sodium chicken broth and blend again. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste. –Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of The Miracle Carb Diet
Pineapple Ginger: 1/4 small puréed pineapple, 1 drop fresh or canned ginger juice, 1 tablespoon dry white wine, and 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 3/4 teaspoon cold water. –Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami
Tangy Marmalade: 2 tablespoons orange marmalade, 1 tablespoon each Dijon mustard and finely chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice. –Chef Candice Kumai, author of Cook Yourself Sexy
Blue Cheese: 2 teaspoons nonfat plain yogurt, 1 1/8 teaspoons crumbled blue cheese, and 1 splash balsamic vinegar. –The American Council on Exercise
Spiced Fruit: 2 tablespoons fruit purée or juice (any flavors work), 1 tablespoon vinaigrette, and 1 teaspoon chili sauce. –Nicolette Pace, R.D., founder of NutriSource in Great Neck, New York
No oil means tons of taste for less fat and fewer calories. Massage chicken with your favorite spices, then cook as desired.
Coffee: Mix 4 teaspoons finely ground coffee, 2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. –The American Council on Exercise
Spanish: Mix 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika; 1/4 teaspoon each regular paprika, dried cilantro, and kosher salt; and 1 pinch each ground dried lemon peel and freshly ground pepper. –The American Council on Exercise
Coriander-Caraway: In a food processor, grind 2 teaspoons each coriander seeds and caraway seeds, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. –Alexandra Caspero, R.D., owner of weight-management and sports nutrition service Delicious Knowledge
Tuscan: Grind 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds. Mix with 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder and coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, and 1 pinch each dried rosemary and oregano. –The American Council on Exercise
Spicy Frenchie: Mix 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. –Caspero
Indian: Mix 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 each pinch crushed red pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried mint, turmeric, and ground ginger. –The American Council on Exercise
Let your bird soak in flavor. Pour into a Ziplock bag with a whole, sliced, or diced raw chicken breast. Refrigerate overnight, then cook chicken as desired.
Asian Spice: 2 teaspoons each minced shallot and vegetable oil, 3/4 teaspoon each minced garlic and minced jalapeño, 1 pinch each salt and ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon each minced ginger, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest. –Chef Erin Dow, Guiding Stars expert
Orange Sesame: 2 tablespoons each no-pulp orange juice and low-sodium soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, and 1 pinch each chili flakes and ground ginger. –Sharon Richter, R.D.
Creamy Cumin: 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1 minced garlic clove. –Amanda Buthmann, R.D., of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life in New York City
Lemon Pepper: 1 cup white wine, 2 tablespoons each olive oil and lemon pepper, 1 small diced lemon grass stem, and 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic. –Lisa De Fazio, R.D.
Mustard-Rosemary Apple: 1 tablespoon each apple juice and chopped fresh rosemary (or thyme), 1/2 tablespoon each mustard and olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed peppercorns. –The American Council on Exercise
Cilantro Lime: Juice from 1 freshly squeezed lime, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 pinch sea salt. –Jim White, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Give your dinner some low-fat crunch. Pour low-fat milk and coating into separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken into milk, then into coating, making sure it’s well covered. Cook chicken on low heat so it doesn’t get too crispy.
Spicy Italian: In a food processor, grind 1/2 cup dry old-fashioned oats, 2 teaspoons each Italian seasoning and paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 pinch each sea salt and black pepper. –Alexandra Caspero, R.D., owner of weight-management and sports nutrition service Delicious Knowledge
Lemon Cilantro: Mix 1 tablespoon each panko breadcrumbs and wheat germ, 1 teaspoon cilantro, and zest of 1 lemon. –Sarah Krieger, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics
Parsley Cumin: In a food processor, grind 1 teaspoon each cumin seeds and fresh parsley, and 1 pinch each kosher salt and black pepper. –The American Council on Exercise
Sesame Flax: Mix 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon ground flaxseed, 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs, 1/2 tablespoon wheat germ, and 2 tablespoons each sesame seeds and parsley. –Nutritionist Monica Reinagel
Crunchy Herbs: In a food processor, grind 1/2 cup high-fiber cereal, 1/2 teaspoon each dried basil and thyme, and 1 pinch each salt and pepper. – Caspero
Zesty Pecan: In a food processor, grind 2 tablespoon pecans, 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest, and 1 pinch each sea salt and chipotle pepper. –The American Council on Exercise
Switch up your standard busy-night dinner by playing with veggies and sauces. Chop or dice chicken, then follow one of these can't-mess-them-up recipes, all ready in 15 minutes or less.
Red, White, and Green: Heat 1/2 tablespoon canola oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 minced garlic clove and cook 1 minute. Add chicken and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 cup each broccoli florets and thinly sliced zucchini, 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, and 1/2 thinly sliced red pepper and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes until vegetables are tender. –Nutrition consultant Tara Gidus, R.D.
Sweet and Sour Pineapple: Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic and stir-fry 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chicken and cook until slightly browned. Add 1 tablespoon each diced cucumber, diced onion, and cubed tomato and cook 1 minute. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 tablespoon each Thai Kitchen Premium Fish Sauce and ketchup, and 3/4 teaspoon each sugar, vinegar, and pineapple juice. Add 1/4 cup pineapple chunks and stir-fry 30 seconds. –Thai Kitchen
Garlicky Artichokes: Heat 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 can (14 ounces) rinsed and drained artichoke hearts and chicken and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 squeeze lemon juice, and sea salt and black pepper to taste and cook 2 to 3 minutes. –Lara Englebardt Metz, R.D., nutritionist at Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life in New York City
Sprouts and Scallions: Whisk together 1 tablespoon water, 1/2 tablespoon each rice vinegar and black bean-garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry, 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, and 1 small pinch crushed red pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts, 1/4 bunch scallions, and sauce mixture and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. –The American Council on Exercise
Marsala Mushrooms: Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 cup chopped baby Portobello mushrooms and cook 3 minutes until lightly browned. Add 1/4 cup Marsala wine and simmer 5 minutes until alcohol has cooked out. Squeeze in juice of 1 lemon, remove from heat, and sprinkle with zest from lemon. –Sarah Krieger, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics
Asian Slaw: Whisk together 1 tablespoon smooth natural peanut butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice, 2 1/4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, 3/4 teaspoon rice vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Heat 1/2 teaspoon canola oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 2 to 4 minutes, then remove from pan. Add another 1/2 teaspoon canola oil, 1/4 small thinly sliced cabbage, and 1/2 tablespoon water and cook 3 to 5 minutes until cabbage begins to wilt. Add 1/2 medium grated carrot and cook 3 more minutes. Add chicken and peanut sauce and stir to combine. –The American Council on Exercise