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This year for Valentine’s Day I challenged myself to see if I could come up with a 3-Course Meal, based on some of my favorite restaurant meals, but only “use” 750 calories. Why? Besides finding a new way to challenge myself in the kitchen and keep me busy, this challenge taught me that with a little fine tuning, we can tweak full-course meals to fit our diets and goals while not compromising on flavor & taste. Enjoy the video and the challenge…because YOU ARE NEXT!
Food is love – and cooking for your “boo thang” is a great way to show just how much you care.
Refreshing Watermelon, Arugula & Feta Salad with Homemade Citrus Vinaigrette
This is a very simple salad that I’ve always had success with so it’s pretty much a foolproof recipe. Great start to your date night.
Ingredients for 2 serving:
- 2 cups watermelon
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- Vinaigrette for 2 servings
- .5 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2/3 cup chopped red onion
- Juice from 2 clementine
- Sea salt & pepper to taste
- Chop up watermelon, red onion and feta cheese (if you are not using feta cheese crumble). I like to have thinly sliced red onion so I used a mandolin for cutting.
- In a bowl, add the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Add the freshly sliced red onion and allow it soak in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Assemble each salad individually. Add arugula, watermelon and feta. Drizzle the dressing over the salad with or without the red onions.
Total approximate calories without optional olive oil: ~121 calories.
Approximate macros without optional olive oil:
121 calories, 7g protein, 13g carbs, 5g fat, 1g fiber, 9g sugar
Healthier Version of Chicken Piccata
One of my absolute favorite Italian meals of all time is chicken piccata. I remember years ago discovering the awesomeness of this dish. Fresh out of college with a few bucks in my pocket, at least 3 times a week for lunch I’d go to this popular chain Italian restaurant and get chicken piccata. If you don’t know, it’s typically a savory, dish with chicken (or a protein) that has been coated, sautéed and smothered in a lemon and white wine sauce. As you can imagine, it is delicious and generally a favorite at meal time, but it is extremely high in saturated fats.
Here is a heart healthier version using coconut oil and almond flour. The white wine is an optional item in this dish and is technically not needed, but it does enhance the flavor and get as close to the original recipe as possible.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
- 1.5lb chicken breasts (about 4 thinly sliced chicken breasts)
- 1oz brown rice pasta
- 4 tbsp coconut flour
- 2.5 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
- Sea salt & pepper
- Boil pasta according to instructions. After it has finished cooking, rinse under warm water and set aside.
- Measure out about 4 small chicken breasts, roughly 6oz in size. Lightly pound with a fist or a mallet so they are thin. This is extremely important so that the chicken breasts will all have the same cooking time.
- Season each breast with a pinch of sea salt and pepper and about 1 tbsp coconut or almond flour. I used about ½ tbsp for each side.
- Set a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat and add about 2.5 tbsp coconut oil. I cannot stress enough the importance of using a nonstick skillet here. This will allow us to drastically reduce the amount of oil and butter like in the traditional recipe. So make sure you have a nonstick skillet.
- Once the coconut oil has melted, add the chicken breasts and cook until they are golden on each side. Careful not to let them burn. Depending on the heat of your skillet, this should take 2 – 3 minutes for each side.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. I recommend covering the breasts with foil to trap in the heat or setting the dish inside the microwave.
- Immediately add the garlic and capers to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat of the skillet to medium heat and add in 1/3 cup of low sodium chicken stock, 1/2 cup of dry white wine and 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over chicken.
- Garnish with parsley and freshly chopped lemons.
- Add pasta to the plate and place 1 chicken breast on the pasta and drizzle a little of the sauce in over it.
Approximate total calories for 1 of 4 servings without pasta: 328 calories
With the additional ½ cup pasta you add about 105 more calories >> 433 calories. For a lower carb version you can make raw zucchini noodles.
Approximate macros for 1 of 4 chicken breasts without choice of pasta:
328 calories, 41g protein, 15g carbs, 3g fat, 1g fiber, <1g sugar
Banana Raspberry Dark Chocolate Brownies
And what is Valentine’s without dark chocolate? I like and recommend Dark chocolate because of the health benefits. It’s rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants and much more, which is why many health officials have encouraged moderate, controlled daily consumption.
Brownies and are always a safe bet and the cool thing about making brownies is you can add your own twists and style to them. Be careful because small tweaks can dramatically affect the macronutrient and caloric makeup. Here is quick recipe for thick, delicious brownies.
Ingredients for 6 big brownies or 10 regular-sized brownie bites:
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup cacao powder (or dark chocolate, at least 67% cacao)
- 1 egg
- 2 dates (optional for added sweetness)
- 1 tbsp almond milk
- 1 small zucchini (chopped)
- 2 medium ripe bananas (mashed)
- 3/4 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (optional but recommended)
- 2 tbsp red coloring from beet juice (optional)
- non-stick cooking spray
- Set oven to 350F.
- In a high-powered blender, add egg, zucchini, bananas, dates, coconut sugar and almond milk. I am using the Vitamix 5200. Pour the contents into a large bowl.
- Mix together all of the remaining dry ingredients – oat flour, baking soda, baking powder and cacao powder.
- Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and mix together with a spatula.
- Fold in the raspberries and add the 2 tbsp of optional beet food coloring. It is ok if the raspberries break apart.
- Add the chocolate chunks and mix together, using a folding motion.
- Spray a muffin pan with nonstick cooking or baking spray and evenly divide the mixture among the muffin molds.
- Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool a bit before removing from the mold.
Total calories for 1 of 6 muffins without additional chocolate chunks and dates: 191 calories
Approximate macros without additional chocolate chunks and dates:
191 calories, 6g protein, 39g carbs, 3g fat, 6g fiber, 17g sugar