Gettin’ My Health On with Swiss Chard, Quinoa & Roast Chicken

Healthy Dinner: Swiss Chard with Onions & Mushrooms, Quinoa and Roast Chicken

Healthy Dinner: Swiss Chard with Onions & Mushrooms, Quinoa and Roast Chicken

My birthday came and went the last weekend of February with an abundance of good food. The whole weekend was an eating frenzy, first with dinner at Sunda, then Farmerie 58, and finally Hugo’s Frog Bar, not to mention the cookie cake my mom made. It’s no wonder I spent the entire last week afraid to get on the scale, and I just know that damn bridesmaid dress is no closer to zipping than it was a month ago.

I’m not going to get all whiny about this (I know you don’t want to read all that, even though it would be awfully cathartic for me…), but I am going to tell you how I finally took action today with a super healthy dinner that will last me at least three meals. It was roast chicken, quinoa and Swiss chard with onions and mushrooms. And despite being incredible healthy (whole grains, low-fat, high-fiber, protein, etc.) it was incredibly delicious and filling.

Separate Swiss chard leaves and stems

Separate Swiss chard leaves and stems

The roast chicken was the easiest part, something I actually made earlier in the day and then reheated in the microwave with the rest of the meal. I bought a split chicken from the grocery store (still on the bone to retain moisture but cooks faster than a whole chicken) and seasoned it liberally with salt and pepper, then rubbed in a bit of lemon juice and olive oil. The chicken was roasted in a 350F oven skin-side up for 40 minutes (until it reached an internal temperature of 170F). I let the chicken cool to room temperature, then covered and refrigerated it. When it was time for dinner I removed the skin and sliced the chicken meat, then reheated it in the microwave. the chicken remained extremely moist and flavorful without overpowering the other dishes.

Next is the quinoa, a whole grain I’ve been reading a lot about but haven’t used much. It’s considered a “health-building grain” that is high in protein, and is light and fluffy once cooked with a bit of a nutty taste. I prepared it with very few ingredients but did take a few minutes to toast the grains in order to bring out more of the nutty flavor.

Rinse quinoa

Rinse quinoa very well

Finally, the showpiece of the meal: Swiss chard with onions and mushrooms. This was the highlight, an easy dish that’s a little time-consuming but oh, so worth it.

I bought one bunch of Swiss chard that happened to be a mixture of the red and green varieties. Swiss chard is a mild and slightly rough leafy green, and the stems benefit from a long cooking time. The leaves, once diced, can be added at the end and then folded in as they wilt, similar to spinach.

Add Swiss chard leaves

Add Swiss chard leaves

Swiss chard is also one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat: high in fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C.

So, how did I feel after my healthy, nutritious dinner? Surprisingly good, and very full. And don’t tell anyone, but I did sneak a very small piece of chocolate for dessert. A girl’s gotta have some sense of adventure… right?

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Chicken with Garlic Cloves & Bacon, plus a favorite cooking tip

Chicken with garlic cloves and bacon

Many years ago I discovered a recipe for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, a fairly traditional dish of 8-cut chicken braised with whole blanched garlic cloves. Every time I make this dish I make a few changes (including never actually counting the garlic cloves), this time though I think I finally got it just right by adding a little bacon, one of my favorite tricks.

Blanching garlic Blanched garlic and thyme

Bacon is a diverse ingredient in which a little can go a long way, plus it can be very economical if you buy it by the slice at the meat counter in your grocery store. Just one piece can add texture and smokiness to a dish, and also adds fat so that you can cut back on or even eliminate the use of oil or butter.

Browning bacon Browning garlic

With this dish, redubbed Chicken with Garlic Cloves & Bacon, it did all three. I first diced the bacon and sauteed it over medium-high heat until the bacon was crispy and the fat had been rendered (meaning the fat had turned to liquid and separated from the meat). Then I removed the bacon from the pot, leaving the fat behind, to which I added a bit of olive oil and then the chicken pieces to brown. The crispy bacon bits were then used as a garnish. It’s truly amazing how much effect you can get from just one piece of bacon in a dish meant to serve four people.

Chicken in pot

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