Tuscan Garlic Chicken

I can’t decide if I’m a competitive person or not. But I know I hate to be wrong…especially when it’s about nutrition.

When it comes to running, for instance, I’m not competitive. I view running as exercise, but maybe more so as a mental health session. When I play ice-hockey, I focus on 1) keeping up and not getting plowed by a gentlemen standing a head or more taller than me, 2) making good plays, passes, etc, and 3) getting a good workout. Winning is definitely not my main goal (this may be because of #1…see above).

But last night when I miss spoke about glycogen storage in class, my student quickly corrected me and I came home to research the matter. I consulted both my Facebook dietitian friends and my Twitter dietitian friends (and multiple resources). Flustered as I was, they were much quicker to an answer than I, and sadly for me, my answer was wrong. Upset with myself, I shot off an email to my students, as promised, admitting my mistake and spelling out the correct information.

As I wound down from the day, I was really upset with myself. Nutrition is one thing I hate being wrong about. I guess I’m competitive with MYSELF when it comes to “knowing it all” in the world of dietetics. Probably a tough pill to swallow when your memory lacks as much as mine.

What I do know, with 100% certainty, is that this dish was phenomenal. I made this for my two best college gal pals when they were in town a few weeks back, and they both really enjoyed it. Let me just say there were no leftovers! And the photos…well, we were hungry and perfected photos was not top priority at the time.

I did modify the recipe to cut out lots of fat (heavy cream) and added additional spinach. I also opted for whole wheat pasta to ramp up the fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

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Tuscan Garlic Chicken adapted from More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes and Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
5-4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp garlic (about 4-5 cloves), finely minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 tsp cornstarch
2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup (1 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
10 oz whole wheat fettuccine or linguine

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a shallow pie plate or similar dish, combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Dip each chicken piece in the flour mixture until both sides are well coated.

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until the oil is hot and shimmering. Carefully place the chicken breasts in the pan, cooking them for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are golden and browned but not cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken to a foil-lined, lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside and tent with foil until ready to use.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles, cooking until al dente. Also, wipe out the skillet with a couple paper towels and return it to medium heat, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and bell pepper, sauteing for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in one tablespoon flour and stir constantly while cooking for another minute. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. In a small liquid measure, whisk together the cornstarch and cream. Add the spinach, milk and cream mixture to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

When the pasta has finished cooking, drain and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with half of the cheese sauce. Place some of the coated pasta on each plate. Top with a breaded chicken breast and spoon some of the sauce over the top of the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately. Yield: 5 servings (~ 1 cup pasta with one chicken breast and 1/2 cup cream/spinach sauce).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 550 calories; 15.2 g. fat; 72 mg. cholesterol; 432 mg. sodium; 56.8 g. carbohydrate; 5.2 g. fiber; 44.2 g. protein

Result: Treat yourself to an Italian meal at home. This dish is creamy and rich, with not near the guilt of full-fat cream and alfredo sauces. While a bit heavy on the carbohydrate, this is a generous portion that could be reduced and served with a salad or vegetable side for those looking for something on the lighter side. Enjoy!

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Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a post on SODIUM. I’ve been becoming more aware of the increase in sodium come fall time with the increased usage of canned vegetables, canned beans, and other comfort foods. The post will include recommendations, tips, and my philosophy on how to manage higher sodium meals in a healthy diet.

Question: What pasta variety do you prefer? Enriched white? Whole grain/wheat? Brown rice? Buckwheat?

Off to campus…ciao!

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22 Comments

  1. October 4, 2011 / 6:28 am

    You lady are making me one happy girl. <3 this looks awesome.

  2. October 4, 2011 / 6:49 am

    I think your students probably appreciate more that you are willing to admit a mistake and correct yourself than think you’re a know it all. We learn things every day, even in our specialties :). Don’t beat yourself up!

  3. October 4, 2011 / 7:02 am

    I have a hard time admitting I’m wrong. Stubborness is a blessing and a curse. But at least now you know… right?

  4. October 4, 2011 / 7:08 am

    We all make mistakes every now and again and yeah, when it’s with regards to something we really care about, it feels pretty sucky but just remember that it really does happen to all of us! Plus…at least you can cook up a mean dinner to make up for it!

  5. October 4, 2011 / 8:32 am

    yum! to this dish Nicole! All those flavors go sooo well together! I bet fat free half and half would work too…cutting down the total fat content even more. 🙂

    I have to admit, I like the regular white flour pasta…sigh…but there are a few whole wheat varieties I find acceptable. Trader Joes whole wheat pasta is pretty good and priced pretty well. But there are some ww brands that are just awful. One thing for sure, all whole wheat pasta is not created equal.

    Don’t sweat it too much about being wrong….it’s when a professor or a teacher cannot admit they don’t know everything there is a problem. Learning is a dynamic process! I bet your students actually respect you more for admitting you were wrong..but now you do!

  6. October 4, 2011 / 8:33 am

    Ugh…I HATE when students correct you in class– especially when they’re right, ha!! Happens to the best of us, sometimes.

  7. October 4, 2011 / 11:22 am

    This sounds ah-mazing. Seriously, yum!

  8. October 4, 2011 / 11:50 am

    I know I’m a pretty competitive person… This girl doesn’t like losing! Looks like such a tasty dinner you made for your friends. I’m a whole wheat gal, 100%.

  9. October 4, 2011 / 12:02 pm

    Im ok with being wrong most of the time – which is new for me – but there are certain things I hate being corrected on, and will react like a child.

    Im a big fan of brown rice pasta. I didnt think I’d like it, but it may be my favorite.

  10. October 4, 2011 / 12:44 pm

    I’m so sorry you felt like that. It’s honestly hate for us to know everything. You sound like an excellent dietitian. But I know what you mean, you hate to be wrong when it comes to nutrition.
    This dish looks just amazing!!! Gonna bookmark this!!

  11. October 4, 2011 / 3:34 pm

    Don’t forget that you’re human 🙂 We all make a mistake here and there! Recipe looks awesome!

    • Nicole
      Author
      October 4, 2011 / 6:11 pm

      So true…thanks 🙂

  12. October 4, 2011 / 6:15 pm

    My favorite teachers/professors were the ones who, when they made a mistake, admitted it and cleared it up. Don’t beat yourself up 🙂

    Your pasta looks wonderful. My favorite variety is whole wheat- delicious and filling!

  13. October 4, 2011 / 9:47 pm

    Awww…don’t beat yourself up Nicole, we all make mistakes (or have what my husband calls “brain farts”) every now and then!! I WISH I had teachers who admitted if they got something wrong and corrected themselves. Sounds like you are a wonderful prof. Hope that pesky cold you talked about in your comment to me goes away VERY VERY soon!!! Take care!!!

  14. October 5, 2011 / 3:33 am

    This looks delicious! Now I’m craving Italian….

  15. October 9, 2011 / 4:03 pm

    I almost always use whole wheat.

  16. Rachel
    October 9, 2011 / 8:51 pm

    Made this tonight and it was delicious! Thanks for another great recipe!!

    • Nicole
      Author
      October 9, 2011 / 9:15 pm

      Glad you liked it!! 🙂 I trust your take…you’ve tried so many! 🙂

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