Brandon and I started on a diet a few weeks ago. And not one those “I’m eating more fruits and vegetables” kind of things, like an actual counting calories, keeping a food log kind of thing (though of course we are eating more fruits and vegetables, too). The first week was really scary because I thought it would be impossible to come up with a week’s worth of low-fat meals. But now in week 2, I’m realizing that I was very, very wrong. With the help of a couple of great cookbooks, I’m finding that it’s really not difficult and it doesn’t even take a lot of extra time. In fact, all the dishes I’ve made in the past few weeks take MUCH less time to make and both Brandon and I agree that they’ve been really good and filling. If someone else made these dishes for me, I wouldn’t even think they were supposed to be light. They’re just good recipes and they happen to be low fat as well.
Even though I’m on a diet, this isn’t going to become a diet blog or anything like that. I know I won’t be able to stay away from desserts. In fact, I’m using that as motivation. I’m going to allow myself to make one really sinful dessert a month to reward myself for sticking to my diet. Plus I’m still participating in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge so there will still be lots of bread. (I could NEVER give up bread, carbs be damned). But I’m definitely focusing on finding really good, simple, lighter recipes and I’ll be sharing the best ones I find along with everything else.
I’m starting with this Balsamic Chicken, which was the first low fat recipe I made on the first night of our diet. I really was surprised at how good this was. I thought it would be kind of blah, but it’s amazing how much flavor a little balsamic vinaigrette can add, especially when combined with the juices from the tomatoes. I could eat those tomatoes all day long, they were just bursting (literally) with flavor. And since I’ll never give up my beloved carbs, I paired it with some very simple but well flavored potatoes. This is everything I love in one dinner and I don’t even have to feel guilty about eating it.
Another thing I like about this meal is that the oven temperature is the same for both parts. I always get confused about how long I should cook things for when one things needs to be 350 and another needs to be 450. But both the tomatoes and potatoes bake at 450 so you can bake them together and start the chicken in the skillet when the potatoes are about half done. This whole meal takes less than 30 minutes to make including prep and cooking time.
Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes
Dinner | Servings: 4
Prep time: 20 min | Cook time: 8 min | Total time: 28 min
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or cutlets
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 4 tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette (or if you want to be super low fat use balsamic vinaigrette salad spritzer instead)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F).
- Combine tomatoes, honey and olive oil in a small bowl; pour on a foil-lined cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until tomato skins burst and begin to wrinkle, stirring once halfway through. Transfer back to bowl, making sure to get all the juices and stir in 1/4 tsp. salt.
- Pound out chicken to 1/4″ thickness (or just use cutlets instead since they are already thin), sprinkle evenly with 1/4 tsp. salt and all the pepper.
- Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray or a few teaspoons of olive oil. Add chicken, pour a tablespoon of vinaigrette over each piece (if using the spritzer, omit this and wait to spritz your chicken until AFTER it’s cooked) and cook 3-4 minutes per side. If your chicken is too thick (I had a hard time pounding the breasts down, which is why I’m going to use cutlets from now on) and it’s still not cooked after the outside has been seared, you can transfer to your oven for about 5-10 minutes or until it’s cooked through.
- Place chicken on a plate and spoon tomatoes evenly over each piece, making sure to spoon some of the juice over each piece as well.
Side Dish | Servings: 4
Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 20 min | Total time: 30 min
- 1 lb. small red potatoes (about 8)
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F).
- Scrub potatoes and cut into wedges. Place them in a large bowl, drizzle with oil and toss. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and pepper and toss again until they are evenly coated.
- Arrange in a single layer on large rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned.