I bet you thought I forgot how to cook, right?
Well maybe not that extreme, but I’d guess you had visions of me choking down $5 pizzas instead of whipping up fast, healthy meals.
Well you wouldn’t have been too far off. I have been eating MORE than my share of pizza and restaurant food with our long vacation and Andy’s extended time off.
BUT there has still been plenty of clean cooking too!
I firmly believe in making good food choices, but also in not taking it all too seriously.
Eating organic isn’t going to save your soul.
Just like eating take-out isn’t going to ruin you.
So we have been doing a mix of things for the past few weeks…
Our vacation meals ranged from indulgent shrimp with cheese grits to nutrient rich green juice. (yes, we brought our juicer on vacation!)
Check out this iconic southern dish that I ROCKED during our first week away…
After a short season of feasting, it’s been nice to get back to a season of fasting.
Not fasting as in “no food” but fasting as in saying no to the super rich foods and saying yes to the food that will best fuel our bodies.
Enter this meal.
I, for one, am clinging tightly to the last days of summer. I want to get the most out of our bbq grill before the cold weather sets in.
I also don’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen when there is daylight to be chased!
This dinner is a wonderful light summer meal that comes together fast.
I was talking to my mom the other night after she’d been working all day and was facing the daunting task of making a healthy meal later than her normal dinner time.
Hunger + long cook time = cereal for dinner
She wanted to prepare broiled salmon (which cooks in mere minutes!) and steamed veggies (also cook up fast!) with sweet potato (which has to bake for an hour!) but it was too late to even think about baking a sweet potato.
These sweet potato rounds came to the rescue!
I let her know that we often eat sweet potatoes along with our quick cooking meat and veggies and the trick is to slice them up thin and broil them.
With a quick toss of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder, these sweet potatoes slices are laid out on a baking sheet and broiled for 10-15 minutes, turning once to make sure they don’t burn.
The chicken marinade can be put together the night before and the chicken can rest in it all night and day while you’re at work or with the kids – OR – if you don’t have all that time to plan ahead, just whip up the marinade as soon as you get home from work (or as early as you have time before eating) and let it sit for whatever time you have.
Obviously the longer the chicken sits in the flavor, the stronger the taste will be, but work with what you’ve got in terms of time!
But you’re really only 20 minutes away from eating a gorgeous, healthy meal like this!
- 2 very large chicken breasts or 4 small ones
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (3 for marinade & 1 for sweet potatoes)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed (aka minced. but don't use the crap in the jar!)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- salt & pepper to taste (a few dashes of each)
- 2 bunches asparagus
- 2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes
- garlic powder to taste (a few generous dashes)
- As early as the night before, in a shallow rectangular dish, mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the juice of two lemons (using the lemon juicer from my Eat.Clean.Quick. toolkit post makes this a cinch!)
- Peel 4 cloves of garlic (smashing them with the side of the blade of a wide knife makes this quick!) and put them through a garlic press (again from my Eat.Clean.Quick. toolkit post). Use the knife to scrape all the juicy garlic bits from the press into the dish.
- Whisk the marinade together with a fork and set aside.
- Prepare the chicken by slicing large breasts in half lengthwise to get 4 thin breast pieces. If you're using small breasts, they should be pounded into even thickness for optimum cooking. This can be done with the bottom of a small fry pan if you don't have a meat mallet. Cover the breasts with a sheet of wax or parchment paper first to keep things neat.
- Next, lay the chicken breasts into the marinade for as much time as you have. Be sure to flip them a few times to coat them well (see picture below).
- Put your marinading chicken into the fridge until you're ready to use it.
- At meal time, preheat your oven to broil (place top rack on the highest level) and prepare your potatoes.
- Scrub the sweet potatoes under cool water to remove any dirt or debris. Using a sharp knife, remove the hard ends and any unsightly blemishes.
- You can peel the potatoes at this point or leave the skin on. Depends on your preference! I removed the skins to appease my 3 year old.
- Slice each sweet potato into approximately ¼ inch slices. (see picture below and note my tiny cutting board! LOL)
- Put all slices into a medium mixing bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, a few dashes of salt, pepper and garlic powder until evenly coated.
- Spread oiled potato slices onto a large baking sheet in a single layer and set aside.
- Rinse and dry the asparagus and snap the woody end pieces off of each stalk. Put some water into the bottom of a pan and add asparagus to a steam basket (or just into the water if you don't have a steamer.
- Remove chicken breasts from marinade and grill until fully cooked, approximately 6 minutes on each side or until they feel firm when you press on them. If you don't have a grill or want to use it, you can broil them for the same amount of time.
- While chicken is cooking, add the potatoes to the oven and broil for 10-15 minutes or until soft and not overly browned.
- About 10 minutes before you're ready to eat, heat the asparagus pan over high heat. This will allow the water to come to a boil and steam the asparagus until they are tender-crisp.
- Let the chicken sit for 5 minutes while you plate the asparagus and potatoes. This will allow the juices to redistribute.
And don’t forget to…