Beat Chicken Breast Boredom

Chicken breast rules as king of lean proteins, and it can be an excellent part of your post-workout refuel routine. But it’s also easy to get tired of it. After all, the average American eats 55 pounds of chicken annually, which is more than any other meat. The good news is that it’s easy to jazz up. Here are some recipe ideas to beat chicken breast boredom.

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Your food processor or blender can be an awesome ally. Peanut sauce takes seconds to make, and it’s also good on steamed vegetables (broccoli, snow peas, etc.) and brown rice. You can also whir together avocado sauce or salsa for a fast taco night; serve with shredded or sliced chicken, warm corn tortillas (which are always whole-grain, by the way) and whatever else you’d like. Puree white beans or thawed frozen peas with a little seasoning, olive oil, and lemon for something mashed-potato-like on the side. If you’ve never tried Thai larb gai, it’s basically a pungent and much better version of what you might think of as lettuce wraps, with lots of fresh herbs; just finely mince some chicken breasts with a knife to replace the pork in this recipe, and you’re about ten minutes away from dinner.

If you don’t feel like lugging out a piece of equipment, Mark Bittman’s stir-fried chicken with creamed corn is a one-skillet wonder that only takes about twenty minutes. Or go the sandwich route and replace mayonnaise with store-bought hummus, chopped scallion, and lemon juice for a lower-fat, high-flavor take on chicken salad. Roasted chicken caesar salad (pictured above, from Bon Appetit) is a bit different, low-maintenance, and lighter than its namesake.

Nothing really beats marinating in terms of the work done versus amount of flavor. You just throw your chicken in a bag before you leave for work and let it soak up the goodness all day until you get home. Peruvian, balsamic, yogurt-honey, or Hawaiian are just a few health-conscious ideas.

If all else fails, raid your pantry before you cook: curry powder, paprika (regular or smoked), chili powder, and cumin all provide instant, nonfat spice power.

Finally, here’s a tip if you just feel like a plain old chicken breast: Pound it with a meat mallet to even thickness. This way it cooks evenly and quickly in the pan without drying out or staying raw in the middle. No meat mallet? No big deal. Use a rolling pin or heavy pan instead.

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