Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stuffed Spinach and Mozzarella Chicken

Well, it's official!  I'm finally able to run outdoors again!!!  (And yes, that statement, without a doubt, earns those 3 exclamation points; I'm that excited about it!)

For me, it's been many agonizing months off.  If you're a runner yourself, you most likely get where I'm coming from.  However, I'm sure that some of you non-runners might be thinking, 'I don't get it, what's the big deal?'  So here it is.....when I go for a run, that's my way to release stress or just escape from everything around me, at least for a little while.  And when I can actually go outside and run (meaning not on the treadmill where people can still get hold of me), I know that it's just me, my music, and the road, and I love that uninterrupted alone time.

Being able to get back to my routine means that I now have two things working for me again when it comes to the "health" area of my life.

1. I'm eating healthy
2. I'm able to workout like I want to and am feeling good

Is it just me, or does anyone else believe that there's something about being able to workout that makes you want to stick to eating healthy?  I know that many of my friends feel the same way, but does anyone else?  If so, here's a quick and healthy recipe that's high in protein and low in carbs.  The best part is, that it's also tasty and delicious!  Feel free to leave out the Italian bread crumbs if you want to (I left them off my pieces of chicken, but put them on Jeff's).

Without the bread crumbs, the nutrition looks something like this: 1 serving=1 piece
Cal: 140  carbs: 4 grams  fat: 5 grams  pro: 16 grams

Stuffed Spinach and Mozzarella Chicken

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (butterflied to make 6 pieces)
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs (optional)
6 TBSP. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4-5 oz. fresh baby spinach
1 garlic clove, minced
2-3 tsp. olive oil
½ cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
2 egg whites, beaten
Mozzarella cheese, shredded (just a little on each piece, I used about 1/2 a cup total)
Marinara sauce
Fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and spray the bottom of a baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

For the Chicken:
Butterfly the 3 original large pieces of chicken so that you’re now left with 6 thinner pieces.  After that, pound the pieces flatter, so that the surface area expands some more.  Place the bread crumbs and 3 TBSP. of Parmesan cheese into a shallow dish; set aside.  In another shallow dish, whisk together the egg whites.

For the Filling:
Chop the spinach into small pieces and place into a skillet with the olive oil and the garlic.  Sauté the ingredients together, over a medium heat, until the spinach leaves begin to wilt.

In a small bowl, add the ricotta cheese, the remaining Parmesan cheese, and the prepared spinach.  Now, stir the ingredients around until well combined.

To Prepare the Chicken:
Place a piece of chicken onto a flat work surface and add on a spoonful of the ricotta mixture.  Make sure to place it in the center of the chicken piece.  After that step is complete, roll up the chicken so that the edges meet and form a seam.  (A toothpick might be helpful to keep the chicken closed)  Now, dip the chicken in the egg whites and then roll in the bread crumbs.  (Remember, this step is optional.  If you would rather not have the bread crumbs, just skip this step.)  Once the chicken roll is ready, place it into the prepared baking dish and repeat the process with the remaining pieces.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Once the chicken is done baking, meaning that it looks a little brown on the top, and white in the middle, it’s time to remove the dish from the oven.  Add on some marinara sauce and a little mozzarella cheese and then place back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.  Once ready, remove from the oven and garnish with a little basil.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Pinch of Yum!


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