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Easy, Low-Calorie Chicken Meals for the Family

by Kate Bradley, studioD

You want your family to enjoy the taste and protein benefits of chicken, but you need to keep the meal low-calorie and healthful. While fast-food restaurants would have you believe otherwise, it is possible to prepare chicken dishes that both taste good and are good for your family. Stick to non-fried chicken with filling, nutritious sides to create a delicious and healthful chicken meal your family will request often.

Chicken with Veggies

Pairing chicken with vegetables means your family gets a one-two punch of protein, vitamins and minerals in the same meal. Bake chicken breasts and serve them with sauteed zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Drizzle on light creamy ranch dressing for a zesty finish. Or brush chicken thighs with a sweet barbecue sauce and coat in low-calorie bread crumbs. Bake until they're crispy and serve with a baked sweet potato. Add apple butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon. If you're in the mood for a little Southwest zing, saute chicken chunks with a dash of powdered Southwest dressing and seasoning mix, corn, black beans and zucchini. A little salsa on top completes the picture.

Chicken on Bread

Stick to whole grains and you can pair chicken with bread for a healthy meal. Spread low-calorie tomato paste on whole wheat pizza dough. Top it with chunks of boiled chicken and chopped raw veggies. Bake it and enjoy. Or mix shredded chicken with barbecue or wing sauce and put it on a whole wheat bun. Serve it with raw celery and carrots with light ranch dressing for dipping. Or make chicken toast: lightly coat half a French bread roll with olive oil spread, basil, chives and chopped chicken. Bake it until slightly brown and sprinkle with low-fat cheese.

Chicken with Pasta or Rice

Pasta and rice are cheap staples that cook quickly and are easy to prepare. Try chicken breasts marinated in orange juice and coated with coriander, cinnamon, paprika and ginger atop a bed of yellow rice. Or, combine fusilli or cavatappi pasta with shredded chicken, white kidney beans, salt, pepper, chopped garlic and a little chicken broth. Warm it slightly and drizzle with olive oil. If you're pressed for time, season chicken breasts with a packet of dry dressing and seasoning mix and bake them with couscous and seasonal veggies. The flavorful seasoning will add zest to an otherwise plain dish.

Chicken Soups and Chili

All you need to start a chicken soup is a chicken bouillon cube or a can of chicken broth. Add noodles and veggies for a traditional chicken noodle soup or corn, black beans, tomatoes, celery, zucchini and powdered spicy ranch dressing mix for a Southwest chicken soup. Or try Italian wedding soup and substitute chicken chunks for the traditional sausage. For chicken chili, simply brown the chicken and combine it with chicken broth, cumin, white kidney beans, onions, peppers, oregano, garlic and white pepper. Cook it slowly for best results and enjoy a healthy, hearty meal.

About the Author

Kate Bradley began writing professionally in 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and a minor in German from Berry College in Rome, Ga; TEFL/TESOL certification from ITC International in Prague; and a Master of Arts in integrated global communication from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images