Did you know that September is National Chicken Month? Well, it is. And because of that, I want to discuss one of the most “boring” meats out there.
I love chicken. But chicken is prone to a really unfortunate condition: food boredom.
Food boredom is a common problem. Some foods we just find ourselves eating over and over again, and it gets old. I eat a lot of chicken, because it’s lean, affordable, and protein-dense. In fact, chicken (and other lean meats) played a big role in my journey of losing 40 pounds. That journey didn’t come without food boredom.
I learned, something, though. I learned that I could cure my own food boredom. And I didn’t have to look outside of my own kitchen to find that answer.
It’s a formula.
I use it for just about every meat these days. Pretty much every home-cooked meal I prepare now adheres to this formula, and 9 times out of 10 they are nutritious.
Ready for the formula?
Here it goes:
Protein + Vegetable or Fruit + Starch = Meal.
Seriously, it’s that simple. By mixing-and-matching a wide array of ingredients across these different groups, I can prepare absolutely amazing meals using healthy ingredients — and never get bored of chicken. Obviously, seasoning matters. Sauces matter. Those are all variables that can be added to the formula at any time.
In most cases, I keep whole boneless, skinless breasts in my fridge or freezer and cut them up as needed. Some of my formulas call for other cuts of chicken. Also, I cook with whole grain products most of the time. If you prefer the standard versions, go for it!
Here’s a list of some of my favorite chicken formulas:
- Chicken (Diced) + Asparagus (1/2-inch pieces) + Whole Grain Farfalla Pasta — cook the asparagus and the chicken together in a skillet with enough olive oil to form a sauce, season with garlic (fresh, dried, or powder), basil, and oregano. Cook your pasta separately. Strain the pasta when it’s done, and mix together with the asparagus/chicken/olive oil blend. Sprinkle with a bit of parmesan cheese.
- Chicken (Strips) + Bell Peppers, Onions (Sliced) + Whole Grain Tortillas — cook the chicken, peppers, and onion in a little olive oil, add chili powder, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice. Let it cook until the lime juice cooks down into a thick sauce. Serve up on whole grain tortillas for a light spin on tacos.
- This recipe can also be served on brown rice instead of in tortillas.
- Chicken (Whole Boneless, Skinless Breast) + Zucchini, Summer Squash (Sliced) + Whole Grain Couscous — prepare the couscous (if plain, season as desired or choose a pre-seasoned blend). Brush the chicken breast with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and herbs, and bake in the oven on 350 until the internal temperature is 165. Toss the vegetables in a frying pan with some olive oil and seasonings. I usually go garlicky on this formula, and top the veggies with a little parmesan cheese.
- Chicken (Diced) + Stir Fry Vegetable Blend + Whole Grain Pasta — my favorite combination of stir fry ingredients are bell peppers, white onions, snow peas, broccoli, sliced mushrooms, sliced almonds, and carrots. Sometimes I’ll mix and match those and other ingredients in different ways. Stir-fry up the chicken and veggies with soy sauce, serve on whole grain pasta (spaghetti-type noodles are my favorite).
- This formula can also be served with brown rice or rice or rice noodles instead of the whole grain pasta.
- Chicken (A Whole Damn Chicken) + Root Vegetables + Whatever Starch You Damn-Well Please — I plan on roasting a chicken soon and writing about chicken-roasting for beginners. Essentially you put the chicken in a roasting pant, surround it with root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.), put butter and and part of an onion inside the chicken, then put button on the chicken and in the vegetables. Season how you like. I usually do Lawry’s seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and herbs. Roast that baby until the internal temp is 165 and that skin is perfectly crispy. Serve with whole grain garlic bread, or mashed potatoes, or mashed cauliflower, or whatever starch sounds good because I love all the starches so much.
I could list about a hundred other combinations I enjoy, including chicken-stuffed peppers and grilled chicken and lemon-pepper chicken, but I won’t. The point of the formula is for you to take it and make it your own. Don’t feel constricted by recipes. There are thousands of combinations of protein, vegetables, starches, sauces, and seasonings waiting for you to take them and run away with them.
I hope this helps you. I know the way I plan meals changed drastically when I started thinking according to the formula rather than according to recipes. In fact, I attribute a lot of my weight loss to this method of meal prep. And the formula works for more than just chicken — I apply it to beef, pork, fish, and all of God’s other tasty animals.
So, let me ask you this: will you try the formula? And what formula are YOU looking forward to trying?