Friday, March 27, 2015

Going Mediterranean

I’m sure we’ve all heard things here and there abut how the Mediterranean style diet is healthier than that of the typical American. And indeed recent research has shown that adopting a Mediterranean style diet may indeed reduce the risk of certain diseases, especially heart disease. The Mediterranean style diet incorporates lots of vegetables, heart healthy fats, nuts, lean meats and fish and flavorful spices to jazz up a dish and make it extra tasty. As a long-time lover of tomatoes and one who constantly looks for new ways to blend spices to make dishes extra flavorful, I much enjoy preparing meals that incorporate the Mediterranean principles. Recently I came across this recipe that fully embodies the characteristics of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and decided to give it a try.

Mediterranean Chicken with Tomatoes, Beans and Avocado Yogurt Sauce
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp sriracha chili sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
  • 4 chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs, deboned
  • 2- 15 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 pints fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl mix olive oil, garlic, paprika, coriander, oregano, cumin, curry powder, sriracha and salt until well blended.
  2. Heat a dash of oil in pan of medium-high heat. Rub each piece of chicken with approximately 2 tsp of the olive oil/spice mixture. Place chicken in pan and sauté for several minutes.Once lightly browned, place in large baking dish.
  3. Combine remaining oil/spice mixture in a large pan with beans, tomatoes, lemon slices and cilantro. Stir until evenly coated. Pour around chicken in baking dish and surround the chicken without covering. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in over for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

   4.  While chicken is cooking, prepare the Avocado Yogurt Sauce.

Avocado Yogurt Sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium avocado, ripe, smoothly mashed
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
    5. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Once the chicken is finished cooking, sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and allow to cool. Serve portions onto plates and top chicken/bean/tomato mixture with yogurt sauce.

Recipe Source: the Cafe Sucre Farine

Not only is this recipe delicious, it’s nutrition profile is so awesome it makes me want to giggle.
  • Olive oil is highly present in this recipe, providing lots of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Post-workout, olive oil can help control inflammation and promote recovery.
  • Tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant lycopene, which helps protect the body against damaging free-radicals and may also play a role in reducing the risk for certain cancers
  • The chicken breast is a great lean protein source providing the building blocks for muscle repair after a workout
  • Cannellini beans are a great protein and complex carbohydrate source that provides approximately 12g of fiber per cup which nearly half of the amount of fiber one needs in a day. These beans also provide about a third of your daily needs of iron, folate, magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium.
In my opinion, the cherry on top of this meal that pushes it to a whole new level of deliciousness is the yogurt sauce. I love the contrast of the spices in the chicken mixture with the cool citrus taste of the yogurt sauce. On top of it’s fantastic taste, this sauce provides even more healthy fats from the olive oil and avocado as well as gut-health-promoting probiotics and protein in the yogurt.

This is a great dish to have on long run day or a delicious conclusion to a day with an especially hard workout. It provides a full profile of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to promote full body health and recovery as well as complex carbohydrates for glycogen replenishment and plenty of protein for muscle building and repair. Satisfying and completely nutritious, you can’t beat that. But even on a regular day, I guarantee your guests will be praising you with complements if you serve them this recipe; it’s absolutely delicious, the spices and the yogurt sauce perfect complement each other with the chicken. You’ll find it satisfying, warming and refreshing all at the same time. Best of all it will leave you feeling complete because it’s a well-rounded, healthy meal.

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