7/15/09

Chicken Fajita

As much as we all love a hot plate of cooked veggies, we all look forward to a piece of bread with a meal. What fun would PB&Jelly be if we served it on a spoon?
Many people believe that weight loss involves reducing carbs. Well, I think this was the old thinking and now many people (athletes primarily) are under the impression that bread, pasta, pizza, rice and potatoes, in high quantities, must be consumed on a daily basis in order to fuel and recover from workouts. While there is nothing wrong with carbs (prioritizing the 100% whole grain/high fiber ones) it is important that we consume healthy carbs, filled with nutrients which will improve the immune system, fuel workouts and keep us satisfied.
If I told you to just eat veggies or a salad for a meal, that would be quite boring. I would never say that because I don't do that and if I don't do it...I don't preach it. However, if I told you to add some protein to your veggies, now we are talking about a more balanced meal.
Veggies are often overlooked as quality carb-providing foods. It's easy to get a loaf of bread and feel carbo-loaded but if you eat a plate of cooked veggies for dinner, it just doesn't feel like a complete meal.
Before I give you the steps for your next carb-filled, healthy meal, I want to give some recommendations on picking out your wraps, bread and tortillas in the grocery.
1) Look for the lowest calorie option possible. Put those items in your cart.
2) Check the fiber content. If your product has at least 3 grams fiber, keep it. Put all other options away.
3) Check the first ingredient. If the product is enriched, put it away. If the first ingredient is along the lines of 100% whole wheat, keep it.
4) Look at prices. There is no point spending an extra dollar for something claimed to be "healthier". If you are choosing a package of spinach wraps for $4 because it has 4 grams of fiber, instead of the non-named brand package whole wheat wrap for $2 with 3grams of fiber, go with the cheaper item. If you stuff your wrap with fiber, you will never know you missed out on that 1gram of fiber.
5) Re-evaluate your choice. Think about your meal that you will serve with your wrap. Is it worth buying a large wrap with 180 calories if you are only putting in chicken and lettuce inside? that's a lot of wrap without a lot of fillers. If you choose a small wrap, is that going to be too small for your fillings and you find yourself eating more wrap than veggies and protein? In most cases, you are better off buying a higher calorie, large wrap, stuffing the wrap and then eating 1/3rd of it, rather than buying lower calorie, small wraps and eating 3-4 wraps because you want more and more fillings (ex. meat, veggies, rice, etc.)
These suggestions are just a guideline. It is up to you to make the healthy option. As I have mentioned in previous posts, never eliminate a food without finding a healthy solution. If you find yourself eating way too many 150 calorie cinnamon raisin english muffins, choose a 90 calorie cinnamon raisin loaf of bread. Maybe the products aren't whole grain but at least you are starting off your weight loss journey in the right direction by reducing 40 calories from 1 item, in your daily diet. Now think if you could do that with 10 items in your diet....400 calories lost in one day!

Chicken Fajitas
Tortilla/wrap/fajita of your choice (I found mine at Wal-mart. Surprisingly, the fat-free wraps had more fiber than the whole grain wraps..who knew??)
1/2 can bean mixture (in the picture below, this is one of my favorites. I always give it a rinse before I use it)
Veggies - mushrooms, onions, garlic, corn, green peppers, tomatoes
1/2 tube of Firm tofu (cut into small blocks)
1/2 box rice pilaf (opt for low sodium)
Chicken or veggie burger
1 tsbp. olive oil
Salsa
Shredded cheese

1. Start cooking rice according to the package.
2. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat. Pour 1 tbsp olive oil on pan.
3. Place chop veggies on skillet. If using frozen veggies (ex. corn, peppers, mushrooms) put those on the skillet first, then place the rest of the veggies.
4. Stir veggie mixture and place tofu in mixture. Stir and cover (covering the pan will help the veggies cook faster).
5. While veggies are cooking, prepare your piece of chicken (or microwave/cook veggie burger) to your liking. I prepared Karel's chicken with bread crumbs and lemon pepper w/ 1/2 tbsp olive oil on a separate non stick pan.
6. When veggies are finishing cooking (golden brown) turn off heat. Add salsa, stir and leave covered until chicken is finished cooking.
7. You may microwave your fajita or lightly toast it in a 400 degree oven for 1-2 minutes.
8. Start platting your fajita.
-Start with 1 fajita and sprinkle cheese
-Add your "meat" of choice (cut into pieces)
-Add a large spoonful of rice.
-Add veggie mixture.
-Attempt to close the fajita like a pro or just fold it in half and enjoy a messy, yet healthy meal :)
-Rather than going back for another fajita, serve a salad or the extra veggie mixture as a side to your first wrap.