Food Facts

Roasted Red Pepper & Pesto Chicken Salad

A chicken salad with pesto and home roasted red peppers.  It's mayo-free and packed with flavor!

Friends, this chicken salad is so scrumptious. I wish I could hand you a sample through the screen!  I tested this recipe a few times because I couldn't get the chicken how I wanted it.  I quickly learned that if the chicken isn't cooked like you want it then the final product will not be exactly what you want.  However, once I mastered the basic chicken breasts, the rest of the recipe was a breeze!  You can learn how I perfected the chicken breast and find my recipe for fool-proof tender juicy chicken by clicking here!

After I determined the best way to cook my chicken I added just TWO simple ingredients and, voila!, a delicious, tender, flavor-packed chicken salad.  It's the perfect protein-packed AND flavor-packed lunch to keep you energized throughout your day. 

I love chicken salads like this because they are such an easy way to get my protein at lunch.  I especially appreciate this when I have had an intense resistance workout early in the morning before work.  Because our bodies can only utilize about 20 - 30 grams of protein at one time for muscle building and repair, it's important to have your protein present in not only the meal following your workout but also each meal and snack throughout the day (if you're trying to build or simply maintain muscle mass for your sport, personal goals, or general health and well-being).  This is a protein - packed recipe that does not disappoint!  It stays tender and moist throughout the week and it keeps its flavor while passing on the higher saturated fat mayonnaise common in so many chicken salads.  

This recipe usually gets me about 3 to 4 lunches, depending on how big I make my portions :).  I really do make this all the time and am super excited to share it with you today!  Make sure you read to the very end for ways to use this one recipe for a variety of deliciously simple meals throughout the week!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

ROASTED RED PEPPER & PESTO CHICKEN SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.75 pounds raw boneless skinless chicken breast (should make about 3 cups cooked shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon, cut into quarters
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 4 tablespoons jarred pesto

DIRECTIONS:

 1.  Prepare chicken by roasting according to my  Tender Juicy Oven - Baked Chicken Breasts  recipe.

1.  Prepare chicken by roasting according to my Tender Juicy Oven - Baked Chicken Breasts recipe.

 2.  While the chicken roasts, prepare your roasted red bell peppers by following the recipe in my   DIY Roasted Red Bell Pepper   post!

2.  While the chicken roasts, prepare your roasted red bell peppers by following the recipe in my DIY Roasted Red Bell Pepper post!

 3.  Once the chicken is cooked, allow to rest for about 5 minutes.  4.  Then, using two forks, shred the chicken to bite-size pieces.  The chicken should still be hot and should shred easily.

3.  Once the chicken is cooked, allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

4.  Then, using two forks, shred the chicken to bite-size pieces.  The chicken should still be hot and should shred easily.

 5.  Add the pesto to your warm chicken and toss to combine.  You want the chicken to still be warm so that it really absorbs all of the flavors in the pesto.  Mmmmmm :)

5.  Add the pesto to your warm chicken and toss to combine.  You want the chicken to still be warm so that it really absorbs all of the flavors in the pesto.  Mmmmmm :)

 6.  Add in your warm roasted red bell peppers and toss to combine until all ingredients are well incorporated.

6.  Add in your warm roasted red bell peppers and toss to combine until all ingredients are well incorporated.

 7.  Serve or store and enjoy!

7.  Serve or store and enjoy!

 

IDEAS FOR MIXING IT UP!

I love recipes that can be incorporated numerous ways to make a variety of dishes.  This recipe happens to be one of my favorites of these type of recipes.  Here are all different ways you can incorporate this chicken salad to keep dishes interesting, delicious and energizing throughout the week!

  • Serve it on its own with whole grain crackers and a side of fruit
  • Warm it up (or serve immediately after preparing) and serve it over penne pasta for dinner
  • Keep it cold and toss in bowtie pasta for a fun picnic lunch
  • Serve it over a bed of spinach and add small cubes of mozzarella cheese for a Spinach Chicken Salad
  • Pile it between two slices of your favorite bread, add a slice of mozzarella cheese or sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the top and place in a panini press (or press it in a skillet over the stove) for a warm Italian Pesto Chicken Panini

 

nutritio notes:

Chicken:  protein, vitamin B12

Pesto:  monounsaturated fats, vitamin E

Red Bell Pepper:  vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber

 

print the recipe

print recipe
Roasted Red Pepper & Pesto Chicken Salad
A CHICKEN SALAD WITH PESTO AND HOME ROASTED RED PEPPERS.  IT'S MAYO-FREE AND PACKED WITH FLAVOR!
Ingredients
  • 1.75 ounces (should make about 3 cups cooked shredded) Boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon Olive oil
  • 1/2 Fresh lemon (cut into quarters)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Pepper
  • 2 medium Red bell peppers
  • 4 tablespoons Jarred pesto
Instructions
1.  Prepare chicken by roasting according to my Tender Juicy Oven - Baked Chicken Breasts recipe.2.  While the chicken roasts, prepare your roasted red bell peppers by following the recipe in my DIY Roasted Red Bell Pepper post!3.  Once the chicken is cooked, allow to rest for about 5 minutes.4.  Then, using two forks, shred the chicken to bite-size pieces.  The chicken should still be hot and should shred easily.5.  Add the pesto to your warm chicken and toss to combine.  You want the chicken to still be warm so that it really absorbs all of the flavors in the pesto.  Mmmmmm :)6.  Add in your warm roasted red bell peppers and toss to combine until all ingredients are well incorporated.7.  Serve or store and enjoy!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: About 4.5 cups

 

 

Pesto Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauli side shot.JPG

Wow, it was a fast moving February, which I'm pretty sure is going to turn into a fast moving March!  Kyle and I accomplished a trip to Houston and a trip to Mexico City, Birthday celebrations for him, engagement celebrations for friends, a new Bible Study, lots of work travel for Kyle and tons of work checklists and Board meetings for me.  Wowzers.  And in one short week we are taking off to Israel!  Detailed meal planning has been at an all-time low and needless to say, my quick and simple favorites have really come to the rescue lately!

One fairly new quick and simple side that I want to share with you today, and that I have been making on the regular lately, is my Pesto Roasted Cauliflower.  If you have noticed in my posts, I have been making a lot of roasted cauliflower this year AND using lots of pesto (it is such a SIMPLE way to add a LOT of flavor!).  After basically making these two components a weekly constant, Kyle and I then went to grab a quick bite at Celebration and one of their vegetables of the day was a pesto roasted cauliflower.  Hello!?!?!  Why had I not thought of that?!

So, the next week pesto roasted cauliflower was absolutely on the menu.  I love this dish because it carries so much flavor on its own that you don't need to worry about having super flavor-packed fancy items to go with it.  I love this as a side to beef or pork tenderloin, chicken or salmon, or added into a bowl for lunch.  You could even chop it up finely and add to scrambled eggs in the morning.  Such a good prepped veggie to have around for the week.

So, here you go - my recipe for Pesto Roasted Cauliflower...

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

 

Pesto Roasted Cauliflower

IMG_4555.JPG

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small to medium head of cauliflower, chopped and rinsed (about 4 to 5 cups raw)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 - 2 teaspoons jarred pesto

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, drizzle cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat.
  3. Spread the cauliflower out evenly over the baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for about 20 minutes (see my first picture in this post for a visual).
  4. After 20 minutes, remove cauliflower from the oven, scoop the cauliflower into that same mixing bowl, add the pesto, and mix with a rubber spatula to coat the cauliflower evenly with pesto.
  5. Scoop the cauliflower back onto the baking sheet, place back in the oven and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until fork-tender and some of the smallest pieces are getting crispy.
  6. Remove baking sheet with cauliflower from the oven and allow to sit about 5 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for meals later in the week!

 

WHAT'S IN THIS?

Cauliflower provides a lot of VITAMIN C and FIBER

Vitamin C... helps strengthen the immune system and prevent infections

Fiber... great for a healthy digestive system, helps fill you up, can help lower cholesterol

 

PRINT THE RECIPE!

print recipe
Pesto Roasted Cauliflower
A simple side that packs tons of flavor. A great go-to any day or night of the week.
Ingredients
  • 1 small (or 4 - 5 cups raw) head of cauliflower, chopped & rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 - 2 teaspoons jarred pesto (or homemade)
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.2. In a large mixing bowl, drizzle cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat. 3. Spread the cauliflower out evenly over the baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for about 20 minutes.4. After 20 minutes, remove baking sheet from the oven, scoop the cauliflower into that same mixing bowl, add the pesto, and mix with a rubber spatula to coat the cauliflower evenly with pesto.5. Scoop the cauliflower back onto the baking sheet, place back in the oven and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until fork-tender and some of the smallest pieces are getting crispy.6. Remove baking sheet with cauliflower from the oven and allow to sit about 5 minutes.7. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for meals later in the week!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:

 

 

 

Taylored Pantry Top 10: GRAINS

This year I will be doing different segments on the blog.  There will be various recipes, which I will label as my "Kitchen Concoctions", both those that are crazy simple and those that are a bit more in depth, there will be nutrition information in my "Fun Food Facts" segments and there will be what I will call "Quick Picks", which will range from restaurant finds to grocery list picks.

TODAY, to kick things off, I'm going to introduce my first segment of Quick Picks that I'll be doing to kick of 2017, which I'm calling my Taylored Pantry Top 10's.  In 2016 one of my most frequent requests from clients, friends and busy moms and dads was, "Can you just send me a list of the things I should grab at the store to whip up something quick and healthy?".  Some people simply needed to know what to buy and then they could take it from there.  I realized that, for some, the thought alone of entering the grocery store was overwhelming and so was their biggest obstacle to getting healthy food choices in the home (and thus into work and school lunches).   So, I will be sharing with you a different Top 10 list each week for the next 4 to 5 weeks.  My hope is that it gives you ideas, information and understanding as you enter into this new year and makes it so that on days you are pressed for time, you can run into the store and quickly pick out items to get breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table or in the lunchbox that week!  

I will start my Taylored Pantry Top 10's with GRAINS These are the grains that I typically have on-hand in my pantry to help throw together a quick and healthier breakfast, lunch or dinner any day of the week.  I do not always have all 10 but I usually have about 4 or 5 and I switch it up to keep meals from getting monotonous.  These typically keep pretty well so that I can use them right away for a planned recipe or I can store them and pull them out when in a bind.  Also, please note, I am not working with any of the following brands; these are strictly my preferences based off of experience and label and ingredient reviews.  Other dietitians may have a different Top 10, but here is what has and continues to work for me and for clients that I have worked with in the past.

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

Taylored Pantry Top 10:  GRAINS  

Benefits of Grains:  Whole grains are a must for my pantry.  They add fiber, a little protein and complex carbohydrate, along with iron, folate, magnesium and a myriad of other nutrients.  They help keep me fueled for long days, help me recover after intense workouts, and keep me full for days I'm just feeling extra hungry.  Grab some grains and make them a part of your pantry....

  1. OLD FASHIONED ROLLED OATS
    •  Uses:  Oatmeal for breakfast or a snacks | include it in homemade granola bars | include it in homemade cookies | add to casseroles.       
    • My Picks:  I usually grab my oats from the bulk bin at the grocery store.  You can get as much or as little as you want and it is SUPER friendly on the wallet.
  2. WHOLE GRAIN CEREAL (maybe 2 varieties - 1 natural & 1 regular)      
    • Uses:  Easy breakfast served with low-fat milk or yogurt | throw it in a baggie for a snacks on the go | include it in a homemade trail mix.          
    • My Picks:  Barbara's brand Morning Oat Crunch (Original variety) & Spoonfuls (fiber + protein + lower sugar content = winning combo!).  I also love basic plain Cheerios and Quaker Oatmeal Squares (again, fiber + protein + lower in sugar)               
    • To Know:  Many times "Natural" cereals are low in iron because nothing is added to them / they are not fortified during processing (Example:  Quaker Oatmeal Squares contains about 90% daily iron needs while Barbara's Morning Oat Crunch only contains about 10%).  If iron is a concern for you, and your favorite cereals are labeled "natural" (which, be careful - that does NOT mean healthier), you may want to alternate between your favorite "natural" cereal and a regular cereal, mix the two, or switch over completely.  And don't forget to include a source of vitamin C with it (orange juice, strawberries, etc.) for optimal iron absorption!                                                                          
  3. WHOLE GRAIN BREAD    
    • Uses:  Toast in the morning | avocado toast any time :) | sandwiches for lunch or dinner | egg breakfast sandwiches | croutons for salads (once it is a little stale) | French toast | freeze it for later use!
    • My Picks:  I love the whole grain bread by Dave's Killer bread and Central Market's Chia & Flax Seed bread.  The hearty quality and all of the seeds in the bread give it a deep, hearty, nutty flavor when toasted, mmmmmm.     
    • To Know:  Make sure the first ingredient in the Ingredient List says "whole wheat" or "whole grain".  Don't just go off of what it says on the front of the package.                                                                 
  4. WHOLE WHEAT PITA OR FLATBREAD  
    • Uses:  So many possibilities!  Stuff the pita with your favorite sandwich fixings and wrap up for lunch at school, work or on the go | eat it cold or grill it in a panini press for a quick hot dinner sandwich | stuff with scrambled eggs & cheese for a quick breakfast on the go | cut into triangles, drizzle with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes for your own baked pita chips | use a whole pita as a pizza crust for individual pizzas and top with marinara and fun toppings before baking in the oven!                              
    • My Picks:  I really don't have a "go-to" for pita bread.  As long as "whole - wheat flour" is that first ingredient, I am good.  Regarding flatbreads & wraps I tend to like the Flat-out flatbread products.  They have a good texture, good flavor and they work well as wraps and flatbread (I use them for my turkey lime avocado wrap - recipe coming soon to the blog).
  5. QUINOA / BULGUR / BARLEY
    • Uses:  Morning hot cereal (quinoa) | the base of a cold lunch salad bowl | a complement to dinner (add in various ingredients like pine nuts, spinach & feta or sun dried tomatoes) | an ingredient in soups & stews.     
    • My Picks:  I also like to get these from the bulk bins at the grocery store.  I can get just what I need and it is usually more budget friendly.                                                                                                                    
  6. WHOLE GRAIN CRACKERS       
    • Uses: An easy snack | pair with peanut butter, hummus, or cheese | serve with soup | eat them on their own.    
    • My Picks:  I usually go for Kashi's 7 Grain crackers but I also like Crunchmaster's original crackers (which are gluten - free for those with a gluten allergy or sensitivity) and Mary's Gone Crackers.
  7. WHOLE WHEAT PENNE     
    • Uses:  An easy pasta night (play with the ingredients like marinara sauce or fresh roasted tomatoes & basil or a little lemon, olive oil and capers, yum!) | incorporate into macaroni & cheese | create a cold pasta salad.    
    • To Know:  Whole - wheat pasta can be tougher than white refined pasta.  Try to cook your whole - wheat pasta a bit longer to better reach your desired texture.
  8. POPCORN
    • Uses:  Great snack any time | buy it plain and add your own flavors like grated Parmesan, cinnamon, chili powder, etc. | 3 cups = 1 serving so you get a lot more per serving than a snack of potato chips!
  9. LOWER SUGAR GRANOLA CERAL 
    • Uses:  Easy topping for yogurt in the morning or afternoon snack | topping for ice cream or frozen yogurt (yep, I said ice cream!) | add into unsweetened cereal for a little bite of sweetness.
    • My Picks:  My favorite store-bought is KIND Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seed and I also love making my own when I have time either using the recipe a friend of mine gave me or using the Pumpkin Spice Granola recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte
    • To Know:  a lot of granolas are higher in sugar and are more calorie dense.  I found this one to be a good compromise between nutrition and taste.  But as with all granolas, remember to watch your portions.  Serving sizes are typically smaller for granola than the average dry cereal.
  10. WHOLE GRAIN FROZEN WAFFLES            
    •  Uses:  Fun breakfast for kids ( and adults), you can top with nut butter, fruit, yogurt, or honey.  In a youth (grades K - 5) nutrition & fitness program I have been involved in over the last 3 to 4 years, one of the recipes the kids make is called a "wafflewich".  It is a regular whole - wheat waffle topped with vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and then topped with another waffle (if desired) to create a waffle sandwich.  The kids love it - it has been a hit every year!

A Trick or a Treat? Decoding the Sugar in Your Foods

         ALL OF THESE ITEMS CONTAIN SUGAR                     WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?!?!

      ALL OF THESE ITEMS CONTAIN SUGAR    

               WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?!?!

There is so much talk out there about sugars - what sugar is "good" and what sugar is "bad".  You have so-called "professionals" telling you not to eat fruit because it contains too much sugar, but then at the same time advising people to juice so that they can cleanse their bodies.  What?  This does not match up.  Then I hear people say that they can't have sugar but they can add tablespoon upon tablespoon of agave nectar to their tea, cookies, or mixed drinks because it's "natural"... hello!  It is all still sugar!

My purpose in this post is to help give you the facts so that you can go out and make your own decisions.  Below is a little breakdown with hopefully enough facts to improve understanding, avoid confusion and give you the info you need to make those sweet decisions on your own....

WHAT IS SUGAR?

Sugars are a composition of carbohydrates, called monosaccharides or disaccharides, in foods.  These can be found naturally in the foods that we eat or they can be added to foods during the manufacturing process to increase sweetness and / or texture.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF SUGAR?

Monosaccharides are:  fructose, glucose & galactose

Disaccharides are a combination of two of these monosaccharides.  They include:

  • sucrose (fructose + glucose) 
  • lactose (glucose + galactose) 
  • maltose (glucose + glucose).

SO WHAT FOODS CONTAIN SUGAR?

  • Milk & yogurt (lactose)
  • Fruits (fructose)
  • Vegetables 
  • Table sugar, honey, agave nectar, raw sugar, syrup (sucrose)
  • Sweets & treats (sucrose)

WHAT MAKES SOME FOODS WITH SUGAR OK AND SOME NOT OK?

It is the added sugars, those added to a product during processing or added at the table, of which we need to be careful (not those naturally found in your apple, bell pepper, and milk).  These are the sugars that health professionals warn against because they can increase our risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, among other conditions.  Those sugars incorporated in fruits, milk, and yogurt are not the ones we need to be as wary of because these sugars are paired with fiber, water, and numerous other nutrients and so do not have the same negative health effects as those in nutrient - void sweets and treats.  Therefore, we should be cautious of added sugars, those that appear in food and beverages in addition to the naturally occurring sugars in the item.

WHAT ARE THE RECOMMENDED ADDED SUGAR INTAKES?

  • The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 10% of your daily calories from added sugar (based off of a 2000 calorie diet, this is about 200 calories per day OR 50 grams of sugar per day OR 12 teaspoons of sugar per day)
  • The American Heart Association recommends:
    • Max of 6 teaspoons (25 grams) added sugar per day for women
    • Max of 9 teaspoons (37 grams) added sugar per day for men

 

HOW DO I KNOW IF A FOOD CONTAINS ADDED SUGAR? 

1.  Be on the lookout for the following words to pinpoint any added sugar in your meals & snacks:

  • Words that contain "sugar"
    • brown sugar, confectioner's powdered sugar, invert sugar, raw sugar, white sugar, granulated sugar
  • Words that contain "nectar"
    • agave nectar, peach nectar, pear nectar, fruit nectar, etc.
  • Words that contain "syrup"
    • corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup
  • Words ending with"-ose"
    • dextrose, fructose, anhydrous dextrose, lactose, crystal dextrose, maltose
  • Caramel, cane juice / evaporated cane juice / cane juice crystals, fruit juice, honey, molasses, sweet sorghum

2.  Look at the labels!  In the near future food labels will start to include a new "Added Sugar" category.  Take a look to see how many extra grams of sugar you are getting in your meal or snack.

WHEN IN DOUBT:

  • Stick with fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Choose milk and when choosing yogurts aim for varieties that don't creep too much over 12 grams of sugar per serving (which comes from the milk and yogurt's carbohydrate, lactose).  Grams over 12 are probably coming from added sugars.
  • Stick with minimally processed snack foods (I try to keep sugar grams per serving to single digits when looking at cereals, granola bars, and snack crackers)

While this article only touches the surface of sugars and carbohydrates, I hope it helps provide a bit more understanding.  Please always feel free to comment or email with questions!

Happy Fueling!

- Taylor