When trying to maintain a healthy diet, it's a wonderful
thing to find a non-perishable food that you can keep on hand in your pantry
that can be used for a quick and nutritious dinner. One of my favorites
is canned chicken breast. It's versatile, low in fat, high in protein and
ready to eat!
Meal 1: Chicken salad sandwiches
Talk about quick! All you need to do is drain and flake
the chicken, add just enough mayonnaise to coat, seasonings to taste (I
like basil, onion powder, garlic powder), and chopped celery, halved grapes
or green olives if desired. Serve on bread, toast, tortilla, a 'light'
hamburger bun, a bagel, or whatever you like! I like to serve vegetarian
baked beans and a salad for side dishes.
Meal 2: Quick burritos
Simply place chicken, black or fat-free refried beans,
lowfat cheese and chopped cilantro (if you have some) in a reduced fat
tortilla. Heat in microwave. Top with salsa and light sour cream and enjoy.
[If you're cooking for a crowd, heat up ingredients separately and build
burritos all at once. Serve with fresh watermelon slices.
Meal 3: Chicken Pasta Salad
Simply boil pasta shells (or other pasta) according to
package directions. Drain and run under cold water until cool. Toss with
drained chicken breast, light mayonnaise, chopped veggies (red bell pepper,
onion, celery, carrots) or grapes, and seasonings. Eat immediately or chill
until ready to eat. Serve with whole grain rolls.
Meal 4: Chicken and Green Chili
Heat a nonstick skillet and spray with cooking spray.
Add tortillas, top with reduced fat cheese, chopped green chilies, drained
chicken breast, and another tortilla, spray with cooking spray. Cook, flipping
once, until both sides are lightly browned and cheese is melted. Optional:
Add sautéed bell peppers, onion and/or mushroom to quesadillas with
other ingredients. Serve with light sour cream, guacamole and salsa. Optional
side dish: Brown rice with chopped cilantro and lime juice.
Meal 5: Greek Chicken Salad
Start with a bowl of torn romaine lettuce. Add drained
and flaked chicken breast, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, a small amount
of chopped kalamata olives and feta cheese and dried basil. Toss with a
splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Optional side dish: Spray pita
wedges with cooking spray and sprinkle with garlic powder, broil until
This is just the beginning of ideas for using this convenient
meal-starter. Canned chicken, and also rotisserie chicken, can be used in most recipes calling for cooked chicken. Keep a few cans in your pantry
and you can whip up a healthy meal in minutes!
Erin Rogers, a work-at-home mom of two, is the founder
of Health-E-Meals.com, providing practical healthy living resources for
busy people and author of Healthy
Express Cookbook: 101 Fresh, Light & Quick Dinners. Visit her website
to sign up for the FREE newsletter, 'Dinners on the Double' - offering
a quick and healthy, no-recipe dinner idea each week. Other available services
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via email here.