Following a Meal Plan doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless. Your life doesn’t have to be filled with endless meals of boiled chicken breast and steamed broccoli…. (Yes I actually had a meal plan client tell me that’s what he was eating)! In fact, when you do this you give healthy eating a bad rap. No wonder your friends don’t want anything to do with you right now! I feel like the biggest problem with meal prepping is either people have zero creativity or they're afraid to "mess up" their plan by adding things to it. In actuality, there are literally dozens of spices and condiments that can be added to your food that will not ruin your Meal Plan and will make your life infinitely more delicious.
Since chicken seems to be the most commonly mistreated meat on our PA Meal Plan, we’re going to start with my Top 5 chicken-based meals.
Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
I eat this meal probably at least once per week. It is probably one of the easiest meals to put together and tastes delicious. Your main flavor enhancer for this meal is going to be Coconut Aminos. Coconut Aminos can be found at your local health food store or online and taste almost exactly like soy sauce. If I’m in a pinch and can’t find the Coconut Aminos but am desperately craving stir-fry, I will substitute gluten free tamari. I start by chopping up my chicken breast into cubes and coating them with salt, pepper, garlic, and dried ginger if I’ve got it handy. If I have to eat a low fat meal like after workout, I will sauté my chicken in spray coconut oil as it is pretty negligible in calories. If I’ve got fat to spare, I’ll sauté it in sesame oil or coconut oil. Once my chicken is cooked through, I add a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies to the pan and cover to steam them. My local grocery store has a stir-fry veggie mix that I keep handy almost all the time in my freezer. You could also add any combination of fresh veggies that you’d like such as snap peas, onions, zucchini, bell pepper and garlic. Once my veggies are cooked, I shake on a generous amount of coconut aminos and toss to coat. Then I serve the whole thing over rice if I’ve got carbs for that meal. If you don’t have any starchy carbs, you could put the whole thing over cauliflower rice.
Frank’s Red Hot is a LIFESAVER when it comes to meal prep and especially when it comes to chicken breast. I like to buy the chicken breast strips at my local grocery store and then I will toss them with some Frank’s Red Hot and bake them in the oven. I generally do 350 degrees for 12 minutes or so depending on the size of the strips. When they come out, I toss them in some more Frank’s Red Hot and serve with sweet potatoes or rice.
Although it takes some forethought, marinating chicken breasts does wonders for its flavor. For this recipe, you just grab a big plastic freezer bag and dump in chicken breast. Squeeze in the juice of two lemons, garlic, pepper, thyme and if you want to be extra fancy, throw some jarred capers in there for good measure. Let the chicken marinate in your fridge for the day and then you can bake it up in the evening. 350 degrees for 20 minutes seems to do the trick depending on the size of the chicken breasts.
Italian Chicken “Pasta”
Sometimes you just crave Italian food. For me that’s usually a craving for pasta BUT if I’m in the middle of a cut or just don’t want to stuff myself with a ton of carbs (cause let’s face it, who can control themselves when it comes to pasta) I will frequently whip up something that’s pretty close in flavor profile. For my quick Italian Chicken “pasta” I again cube up some chicken breasts and I cover them in salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning. If you don’t have Italian seasoning, you can get away with just oregano and basil. I sauté the chicken in a pan with either olive oil if I’ve got fat to spare or spray coconut oil again if I don’t. Once the chicken is cooked through, I add a can of chopped tomatoes and then sprinkle with more salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning. In another dish I sauté some spiralized zucchini noodles until they are soft and tender. I serve the chicken and tomato sauce over the “noodles”.
There’s a few ways that you can do this dish. The easiest is probably to just dump a few chicken breasts into your slow cooker or pressure cooker and add jar of your favorite salsa and let it cook. Then when it’s done you shred the chicken and eat it with the warm salsa on top. My favorite thing to serve with this is grilled onion and pepper strips. Another way to make this dish is to cut your chicken breasts into strips and sauté with taco seasoning. Serve with the same grilled peppers and onions.
Hopefully this list helps you get out of your bland bubble and embrace some new and creative flavors. Stay tuned for the next edition when we tackle beef!