I'm sure I've mentioned before that chicken's not really my thing. Many of the recipes on this blog are vegetarian because that's how I prefer to eat ninety percent of the time. But I've always relied on dairy for much of my protein. Cottage cheese on my salad makes me so happy. Mac and cheese has me at hello. And a grilled cheese sandwich has me in heaven. The problem? Except for yogurt, dairy triggers my IBS (hello, lactose intolerance!). I've always known this, but my love for cheese was stronger than my IBS pain. However, after doing the elimination diet, I'm much more in tune with what my body does and doesn't like. I've also been having a flair up of the headaches and fatigue that made me decide to do the diet in the first place. Because of this, I'm realizing that my body needs to be treated with a lot more kindness than I've given it. After years of bingeing and eating foods that weren't helping my digestion (like gluten and lots of sugar), I'm trying as hard as I can not to be tempted by the Dunkin Donuts commercials (Can you tell I'm watching TV while I write this?) and to give my body what it needs.
Unfortunately what my body wants and what my brain wants are not always the same thing. My brain wants carbs and sugar. My body's crying out for more vegetables and protein. I feel best when I include a small amount of carbs and protein in each meal, but lately it's been too many carbs, not enough protein. Part of the reason for that is that I haven't adjusted yet to not eating dairy for my protein fix. I'm still having plain yogurt, and I love chickpeas, but other sources of protein are hard for me to get in. I used to love eating nuts, but I realized they were making my headaches worse, so I'm avoiding them now. I grew up on tofu, but I haven't enjoyed it lately. And for whatever reason, while I can eat most other food until there's no tomorrow, I'm easily turned off by seafood, chicken, and turkey. Beef? Well, I was never turned onto that in the first place. I harbor a secret love for pork, but since I also always wanted a pet pig, I won't buy it (which doesn't mean I won't occasionally eat it if it's in front of me). So the dilemma? Come up with more vegetarian sources of protein or learn how to cook chicken so that I like it. What's the best way to make me like meat? Smother it in gravy! So that's what I did. While I might not love meat so much, I do love gravy and I happened to have some homemade chicken broth left over from my roasted chicken last week (again, attempting to get that protein in). While I'll admit that I'm still not sold on chicken, I am sold on this meal (especially the gravy). The gravy is perfect ladled over your favorite vegetables and it's the kind of meal that will make meat lovers (like my boyfriend) go for seconds.
Balsamic Chicken With Sweet Mushroom Gravy
4 4-oz. organic free range chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 lb. sliced baby bella mushrooms
4 prunes, diced
2 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1-2 Tbsp. sweet white rice flour (You can use regular flour if you're not gluten free)
black pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add chicken breasts and saute 3 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate.
- Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute lightly. If the garlic looks like it's going to burn, add a tablespoon of the chicken broth.
- Add the prunes, balsamic vinegar, chicken broth and bay leaf and whisk briefly.
- Add the chicken breasts. Turn heat to low and simmer with a cover on for approximately 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Turn the chicken breasts halfway through for even cooking.
- Take the chicken out and arrange on plates.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and whisk in the rice flour, allowing the liquid to come to a simmer. Keep simmering, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens into a gravy. Ladle over the chicken. Add pepper if desired.
What's your favorite way to get your protein in? Do you have a chicken recipe that you love and think I should try? What are your favorite vegetarian sources of protein?
This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays and Real Food Wednesdays.