Back in the day, weight loss programs touted plain boiled chicken as one of the healthiest things you could eat. Why? According to Livestrong boiling chicken keeps meat tender while limiting calorie intake. Completely plain, without the skin, is best. But for most people it’s an unappealing addition to any diet. And when we say diet, we’re talking about the consumption of nutrients for your body, not weight loss – although the latter will most likely come along with the former!
While we aren’t against tailoring your diet to whatever fits the needs of where you want to be image-wise, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy what you eat. We’ve come up with some alternatives to dishes that you might find served in some of your favorite restaurants or fast-food joints; but unlike them, if you make these dishes at home you won’t be mass producing, and can put a healthy twist on them.
1. Baked Chicken Nuggets
Popeyes, Zaxby’s, Chick-fil-a – there are plenty of quick stops you can make for some great fried chicken on the way home. And it’s tempting, especially because the food is so cheap and comforting!
But the downside to a lot of these popular restaurants is that they’re using deep fryers not just for the chicken, but for fries, mozzarella sticks, and other menu items.
It turns out baking is healthier than deep frying. When you fry food, you’re actually converting the starch in them to carcinogens, which can cause countless medical issues such as heart disease and cancer.
Baking food keeps the nutrients in and the harmful substances out. It also tastes just as good, and if you know what you’re doing you can get a nice crisp and crunch on whatever you’re making!
We suggest trying a twist on chicken nuggets. Instead of frying them in oil, bread them and throw them in the oven. Baking, if done well, retains more moisture in the meat as well, making for a tender and satisfying nugget.
2. Chicken Tacos
This one is pretty simple. We love tacos because they’re so versatile. Traditionally, tacos are a Mexican dish made up of a wheat or corn tortilla folded around a filling.
The best part is, the filling can be whatever you want it to be. Tacos are a great way to incorporate more veggies into your diet, especially when you start considering texture. Add some crunch or some spice with peppers!
Grilled chicken is a great way to add flavor to tacos, and it pairs nicely with savory and citrusy additions. Keep in mind, too, that you can vary your wraps these days. If corn and wheat aren’t healthy enough for you, try a tortilla made of a veggie puree. They’re available in most grocery stores and even come organic.
3. Balsamic chicken and veggies
Get bold flavor and crisp sides with this dish.
The best way to approach recipe is actually to bake everything after dressing it with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, sage, oregano, olive oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Choose root vegetables such as potatoes (sweet potatoes are a great alternative to the usual Idaho), carrots, beets – or add some asparagus.
Bake everything at 425 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through but not dry. And enjoy! The balsamic will add a bit of a bite and flavor to this dish without taking away from it.
4. Avocado chicken salad
Ever get that random craving for a chicken salad sandwich that seems to come out of nowhere?
It’s reminiscent of summer days, picnicking, and beach vacations.
Avocado chicken salad is a great way to make the traditional recipe healthy. In our version, the avocado works as a binder, eliminating the need for mayonnaise – which is high in fat and calories.
Use one ripe avocado for every cup of chopped chicken, and feel free to add apples, celery, onion, parsley, grapes, walnuts – whatever else makes this meal nostalgic and mouthwatering for you! To avoid additional calories, or for alternative options, make a wrap or look for whole grain breads that have great nutritional value.
When it comes to switching your normal diet up to try and be healthier, it doesn’t have to be an extreme and disappointing change. Most of the time eating healthier is as simple as switching out one ingredient for a similar, but more nutritious, option.
It’s also a way to get out there and try new things. Explore areas of the produce section that you’ve never set foot in before! Start slow if you need to, but don’t be afraid to ask people questions or do your own research when it comes to healthy alternatives.
Don’t just settle for boiled chicken.