Sunday, March 05, 2006

Slow Roast Chicken and Sauteed Veggies: Test Kitchen Series

I truly love chicken and I like it cooked just about every way imaginable. Chicken can create a challenge for a lot of weight loss surgery postops and many write off chicken all together. Well, just like a marriage, I couldn't let chicken go without at least attempting to get some counseling to keep us together.

Problem: As chicken cooks, it can get dry and stringy. Baked chicken, fried chicken, grilled chicken -- it can all get uncomfortable if it goes "bad" in the process. Most lap band postops gravitate toward cooking solid proteins in a liquid environment (uh, sauces, creams, soups, juices) to keep is moist and tender. I give props to Lap Bander and fellow Bayou Babe Simone J. for saying she had stock in barbecue sauce. I planned to cook this chicken in barbecue sauce, but I didn't have any when I started cooking. Enter my budget-minded solution -- spaghetti sauce.

This chicken is first of all dark meat. Yes, fattier, but more moist and more tender for that same reason. I oven-cooked it covered with heavy foil at only 350 degrees so it would hold its moisture and cook through to the bone without leaving the surface tough and dry.

We are pairing the chicken with a sauteed veggie mix of zucchini, purple onions and red and yellow bell peppers. This mix is vitamin and water rich with extremely low calorie counts. Cooking them and keeping them crispy and crunchy is the hardest part.

Slow-Roast Chicken Leg Quarters

5 chicken leg quarters
1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce
Herbs and seasonings: salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cilantro, garlic and parsley
2 teaspoons of Land of Lakes 'Lite' Butter (not as unhealthy as you might think)
Parmesan cheese (optional on top of cooked chicken)

Rub and massage the butter stuff on the leg quarters. This will help the surface remain soft and hold the seasonings better. I placed the quarters on a glass baking dish before applying the herbs and spices.

Apply a firmly placed sheet of foil on the top (or a lid if you are all "fancy") and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake covered for 2 and a half hours.

Pour in spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce or just plain tomato sauce if you want to save even more calories. Put lid (duh, foil) make on top and cook for another 45 minutes to an hour. It's so soft and tender that fine chewing will not be a challenge at all.

Sauteed zucchini and Bells

2 small zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 purple onion
2 teaspoons of Land of Lakes Lite
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Seasoned with black pepper, cilantro and parsley

Chop the vegetables and place in a heated pan with olive oil and Land of Lakes Lite. Season as it cooks. Saute until cooked, but still crunchy if possible.

Ah, time to eat. The chicken was tender and surrendered right off the bone. The fresh veggies offer an inviting taste and crunch. The rest of the family had pasta with this meal.

The calorie and protein count is pretty decent. The chicken dish has about 350 calories and 35 grams of protein. I added more calories to what Calorie-Count estimates to compensate for the Land O Lakes and sauce. Take the skin off for an ever greater calorie savings (but I would suggest "after" cooking if you are a lap band postop). I added a few extra grams of protein by sprinkling Parmesan cheese on my finished chicken.

zucchini has about 1/4 of the Vitamin C you need daily in one serving. It also has about 20 calories and a gram of protein (woohoo!). It has other vitamins and iron. I'm new to zucchini consumption and I can't believe how much I like it. Fill up on a big ole bowl of zucchini and you have expended less than 100 calories even if cooked in oil or butter.

Bell peppers are listed as one of the world's healthiest foods on one health nut Web site. It says: "Want to color your life healthy? Brightly colored bell peppers, whether green, red, orange or yellow, are rich sources of some of the best nutrients available. To start, peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), two very powerful antioxidants."

Vitamins A, C, K, E -- you name it, these puppies have it. It also is a "very good" source of dietary fiber and a cup of bell peppers is about 25 calories.

I think this was a yummy meal, even if hubby added salt to everything. I don't cook with a lot of salt any more and I think I totally eliminated it from some of these items. I think this meal costs me about 400 calories and had about 40 grams of protein in it. Earlier, I had about 15 grams of protein from milk and I will have more chicken for dinner. This day should hold about 80+ grams of protein and I'm well under 1000 calories before dinner.

Any comments or suggestions to this meal would be appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Frances, you are making me salivate. I eat chicken at least 5-6 times a week and sometimes it gets a bit boring. This will be a great addition to my chicken recipes.

Kabeerah said...

Francis, you are such an inspiration. You remind me of an old but good friend in Chicago. I even imagine you sound like her, or at least that is how I 'hear' you when I read your post.

Have you considered replacing the bytter on the chicken with olive oil? The best chiocken I have had was made by a Morrocan, coated with olive oil and seasoned with cumin.

Anonymous said...

I followed your link from OH. I am 6 days post op lapband and can't wait to try your recipes! When is the cookbook coming out?

Keep up the great work - you are such an inspiration to me!

Vickie AKA Kikkipeace