Lightened-up Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan is a classic Italian dish that sounds healthy right?! I mean, it has chicken, which is a lean meat, and uses marinara sauce instead of high-fat cream sauce. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case when out to eat at restaurants. Olive Garden’s chicken parmesan, for example, houses 1,050 calories and 52 grams of fat for one dinner serving! This is nearly half of one’s daily requirements in just one meal and doesn’t even include the unlimited breadsticks, salad and beverage of choice.

Why? Well, most restaurants heavily coat their chicken in bread crumbs and then deep fry it. This cooking method adds A TON of additional fat and calories to an otherwise healthy protein source. In addition, portion sizes when dining out are unnecessarily large.

Never fear, I’ve created a lightened-up version that is super easy to make. How? I lightly coat the chicken in homemade bread crumbs and bake it instead of frying. I think this homemade recipe tastes even better than the restaurant varieties I’ve tried. I tested it out on my dad who almost always orders chicken parm when we go out for Italian food. Even he agrees, and he’s a pretty tough critic when it comes to “healthy” versions of his favorite dishes. Try it out, you won’t be sorry!

Lightened-up Chicken Parmesan

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 thin chicken breasts                       1 egg, beaten
2 pieces bread*                                   ¾ C shredded mozzarella
½ T. Italian seasoning                      1 bag pasta
1 t. garlic powder                                1-24 oz. jar marinara sauce
1 T. Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.) Heat oven to 3750 F
2.) Cook pasta according to package, lightly grease a casserole dish for the chicken
3.) Toast bread slices and then put in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs are formed
4.) Get out two shallow bowls: in one put beaten egg, in the other put bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and parmesan cheese
5.) Dredge chicken in egg, then bread crumb mixture and place in baking dish
6.) Bake 20 minutes. Once chicken is cooked through, spoon half of the marinara sauce on and top with mozzarella cheese. Place chicken back in the oven until cheese has melted
7.) Drain pasta and add the other half of the marinara sauce
8.) Serve chicken beside or on top of the noodles and sauce and enjoy!

*Can substitute 1/2 C pre-made breadcrumbs for homemade

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Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I am sharing a recipe that doubles as both a dessert and high-energy snack. I first found this recipe here and adapted it to create my own version. Thanks to the natural sweetness of the ripe banana, this cookie contains very little added sugar. I use agave nectar when I make these cookies, which is a liquid sweetener that comes from the agave plant found in Mexico and South Africa. Agave contains the same calorie and sugar content as other sweeteners but is 1-2 times sweeter than classic table sugar. As a result, oftentimes less agave nectar is needed in recipes compared to traditional sucrose, which naturally reduces the sugar and calorie content of dishes.

This is a one bowl, one pan recipe and takes only a half hour total to make. It’s also a great way to use up any over-ripe bananas you might have on hand. I not only eat these plain, but also topped with peanut butter or crumbled on top of my Greek yogurt for a snack. They are super moist, chewy and just sweet enough to enjoy at any time during the day. Enjoy!

Makes 8-12 cookies

Ingredients:
½ C oat flour (or whole wheat)*                             ¼ C milk
1 C oats                                                                         ½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking powder                                               1 large, ripe banana
½ tsp. baking soda                                                    1/3 C chocolate chips
¼ tsp. cinnamon                                                        ¼ C walnuts
1 Tbs. ground flaxseed                                               pinch of salt
¼ C agave nectar (or honey)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until batter is blended evenly. Portion cookies on a greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. Cool, then enjoy!

*You can purchase oat flour at the store or make your own by putting whole oats into a food processor and grinding them up until they reach a fine powder. 1 cup of whole oats makes approximately ½ cup oat flour.

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