entree salad

Grilled Citrus Chicken, plus leftovers two ways

It’s launch week at Gold’s Gym Corporate locations, and life is getting all crazy!

Say what?

Background: In addition to moonlighting as a food blogger, I also teach several Les Mills group fitness classes. Every three months, we throw a party to introduce a new set of routines — new music and moves to freshen up your workout and challenge you. I love launch week for all the energy and excitement, even if I do tend to overextend myself a bit (ahem).

Our quarterly launches are a great reminder for me to be a conscious eater. The choices you make to fuel your body have a huge impact on your fitness and performance. As much as this girl loves her desserts and wine, they don’t get her through tough workouts. High-protein with lots of vegetables is where it’s at.

The problem? I don’t eat to live, I live to eat. More often than not, the thought of boneless, skinless chicken breast on top of a pile of limp lettuce leaves triggers my gag reflex. I can’t choke down the same food meal after meal. If it isn’t interesting, I will pick at it all morning, then head straight for the vending machine around 3. Like clockwork, I’ll hit a wall about 40 minutes into my workout. No bueno.

The good news: chicken — even boneless, skinless chicken breast — doesn’t have to be boring. Take this “recipe” from this month’s Bon Appetit for grilled citrus chicken: chicken, citrus, oil, salt, pepper. Bam! The flavor is bright, but not overpowering, and it’s versatile enough to get a girl with a short food attention span through several meals. Fresh off the grill, in a salad, as tacos or lettuce wraps, in a sandwich… I won’t have to worry about tossing any unused leftovers.

For example, today’s lunch:

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Skin-on, bone-in meat is best — it’s more flavorful and less likely to dry out. The citrus juices help prevent flare-ups from the fat as the meat cooks. You don’t have to eat the skin if that’s not your thing. If you prefer, you can use boneless and/or skinless breasts or thighs. No grill? Try a grill pan or cast-iron skillet.

I’ve included two “recipes” I have made this week for lunch leftovers. I’d love to hear your ideas, too!

I hope to see your smiling faces at the gym this week. But even more, I hope that no matter what you’re up to this week, you eat well. Cheers.

Photo credit:  Peden + Munk for Bon Appetit

Photo credit: Peden + Munk for Bon Appetit

Grilled Citrus Chicken

Adapted From Bon Appetit
Serves 4

1 chicken (3 1/2-4 lbs), cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons your favorite heat-friendly cooking oil (e.g., vegetable, coconut), divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 oranges and 2 lemons, cut in half, divided (try substituting limes!)

Prepare grill for medium heat. Rub chicken with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken skin-side down, turning occasionally and squeezing the juice from 2 halves each oranges and lemons over the meat often. Cook until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 165° in the thickest part of the thigh, about 25–35 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush remaining citrus halves with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. During the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, grill the fruit, cut side down, until lightly charred.

Serve chicken with grilled citrus fruits for squeezing over.

Chicken Club Salad

For each serving:
2-3 cups Romaine or your favorite salad greens
4 oz. diced or shredded grilled citrus chicken meat
1 hard-boiled egg
1 slice applewood-smoked bacon, cooked & crumbled
1/2 avocado, sliced or diced (douse with lemon or lime juice if not eating immediately)

Chicken Berry Spinach Salad

For each serving:
2-3 cups baby spinach or your favorite salad greens
4 oz. diced or shredded grilled citrus chicken meat
1/2 cup seasonal berries
1 T. slivered almonds, toasted if desired

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Tuna Pasta Salad with Lemon Dressing

I may or may not have eaten one too many brownies and had one too many glasses of wine yesterday while celebrating America’s birthday. That’s what happens when you’re surrounded by good friends and good food.

Today, I was looking for a light meal with minimal cooking and prep. I came across this recipe and happened to have the ingredients (I’m not a big tomato fan and left them out).

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High-protein and lower-carb, this salaf is great for getting back on track after over-indulging. The lemon dressing adds a light, refreshing kick. If you have it, throw in some fresh dill.

Tuna Pasta Salad with Lemon Dressing

Adapted from Koko Likes
Serves 4 as a main course

4 oz. uncooked pasta
6 3/4 oz. package solid white albacore tuna in water (or a large can, drained)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half, if desired
2 cups (or more) tightly packed baby spinach
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse and drain under cold water. In a small bowl, break tuna into rough chunks, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and toss gently.

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, remaining oil, garlic, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper.Add pasta, beans, tomatoes and spinach to bowl; toss well to combine. Add tuna and toss gently. Taste; season as desired. Divide among 4 shallow bowls and top each serving with 1 teaspoon Parmesan. (RHRW Note: if not serving immediately, reserve spinach until ready to serve)

Winter Steak Salad

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As much as I love playing in my kitchen, especially on a Sunday, life doesn’t always allow for that. I’m in overdrive today, about to leave on my first of three business day trips over the next 10 days, and I don’t have time for anything that requires much hands-on time (or cleanup, for that matter).

Fortunately, good food doesn’t have to be complicated or take hours. Seasonal ingredients, prepared simply, are quite delicious. Learn the growing seasons, and you’ll automatically steer yourself toward the most flavorful and nutritious produce. Food at its peak in winter includes root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips; kale and other dark leafy greens; squash (acorn, butternut, and others with thick rinds); and citrus fruits.

I threw this together in 20 minutes with things I had on hand. Adapt it to your own tastes. Kitchen, this isn’t goodbye — it’s just a few days. :)

Winter Steak Salad
2 servings

8-12 oz sirloin steak
Salt and pepper
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Olive oil
6 cups salad greens
2 Tbs pepitas or 1/4 c pecans
2 Tbs dried cranberries
2 Tbs your favorite vinaigrette dressing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season steaks with salt and pepper. Let rest for 10 min. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spread sweet potato cubes on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Roast for 15 minutes or until soft and slightly browned, stirring once for even cooking.

Cook steaks as desired. (I use an indoor grill) Let rest on a cutting board 5 minutes, then slice thinly.

Combine salad greens, sweet potatoes, pepitas, and cranberries. Divide among 2 plates. Top with steak and serve with dressing.