Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken with Feta

About 20 years ago, I decided that we should stop eating red meat. I had become more concerned about what Jack and I ate, and was reading various books and magazine articles about the benefits of healthy eating. Here’s the funny part—I was interested in this subject because I was getting older--- 30! :) Imagine...

In any case, we stopped eating red meat. It was difficult at first, and we occasionally “cheated” with a grilled hamburger at a picnic, or pot roast for Sunday dinner, but as we continued it became easier and easier to concentrate on eating more fish and poultry instead of any beef at all. In fact, a couple of years into this, we went out to dinner and Jack’s mouth started to water when our dining companions kept raving about the melt-in-your-mouth prime rib at this restaurant. So he ordered it and ate less than half of his meal, telling everyone that he was full and that it was a huge portion. Yes, it was, but the problem actually was that, to him, the meat tasted heavy and greasy. And he did not feel well for two days afterward (we gave the remaining meat in our “doggie bag” to our dog, who was incredibly grateful!). A few years after that, in autumn, I was craving pot roast. Made with carrots and mashed potatoes and gravy, I just could not get it out of my head. So I bought a piece of meat (I actually had to go online to find out the best cut since it had been so long), and prepared it. It was absolutely delicious and we dug in. Oh my, neither of us felt well for a couple of days afterward. I was bloated and felt sluggish and was a little depressed—the pot roast was so good!

That ended our occasional attempts at eating red meat. We were simply not "used to it" any longer.

An article in Nutrition Action (a health newsletter published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) in June 2009 only confirmed the reason why I omitted red meat from our diet. A joint study by the NIH and the AARP followed the diets of over a half-million people over a period of 10 years (through questionnaires). The results indicated that, within this 10 year period, those who ate the most red meat (about 5 ounces of red meat a day in a 2,000 calorie per day diet as opposed to those in the low end, who ate about 2/3 ounce of red meat per day on average) were roughly 30% more likely to die, and this was mostly the result of heart disease or cancer.

The entire study is fascinating. I didn’t know this when we started our red meat-less diet, but if we could possibly avoid, or reduce our risk of, heart disease and cancer (especially colorectal, but also prostrate and pancreatic), simply by eliminating red meat from our diet, well, why not? There are plenty of other food options out there!

Most recipes which call for beef or pork can be adapted to use chicken or turkey. Some are easier than others. For example, the following recipe was originally published in CuisineLite as Balsamic Steak with Fruit and Gorgonzola. All I did was to sub grilled chicken breast for the pan-fried tenderloin fillets and use reduced-fat feta cheese for the gorgonzola. One of my favorite summer salads contains grilled chicken, feta, and fresh strawberries, so I knew that this combination would be great. And it was quite good. Jack said that it was excellent.

This is such a quick recipe. Grill the chicken while you make the sauce and slice the strawberries—it couldn’t be easier. I wanted to serve Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley as a side, so that was started first (it takes 45 minutes to cook), and I also made green beans sautéed with garlic and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken with Feta

Servings : 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

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12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- (2 pieces)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon strawberry jam -- (rounded)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup sliced strawberries

2 tablespoons reduced fat feta cheese -- crumbled

Preheat grill. Spray chicken breasts with cooking spray and sprinkle with pepper. Cook until done.

While chicken cooks, pour vinegar into a small saucepan. Heat over a medium flame until it is reduced and thickened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the jam and set aside.

Place chicken on serving dish, sprinkle with salt, brush with balsamic glaze. Sprinkle strawberries and feta over top, drizzle with remaining glaze.


"adapted from CuisineLite"

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Per serving: 259 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (15% calories from fat); 43g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 104mg Cholesterol; 791mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 5 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 0 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates