Thursday, November 14, 2013

Balance Your Life's Crispy Cornflake Crusted Chicken Parmigiana

This semester, I have been interning at Tufts' Department of Health Education. One of my main responsibilities is to oversee Balance Your Life (BYL) programming, which includes fitness classes, speaker events, dining hall kitchen tours, nutrition workshops, and cooking classes all for college students. About once a month, BYL hosts a cooking class that is held in one of the Tufts dormitory common kitchens. A pair of e-board members would volunteer their time to teach healthy recipes and basic nutrition information to fellow undergraduate peers. 

This class' theme was using whole foods. We focused on using simple basic whole ingredients to produce healthy familiar recipes. On the menu:
  • Baked whole wheat olive oil drizzled pita chips
  • Guacamole
  • Cornflake Crusted Chicken Parmigiana
  • Whole wheat pasta with crushed tomato sauce
  • Apple and pear honey lime yogurt salad 
Yes, all those recipes tasted just as wonderful as they sound, but today I will only focus on the chicken. Because we were using raw meat in class, there was also a short lesson on food safety.. so of course best practices to avoid cross contamination were observed. Students had the opportunity to help prepare each of the recipes, ask questions about nutrition, and finally get to sample their own creations. There's no better way to spend a study break on a week night. 

If you are interested in any of the other nutritious recipes, feel free to email or leave me a message. 

Crispy Cornflake Crusted Chicken Parmigiana (serves 8-10)
2 lb skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 cup cornflakes, grinded into crumbs
½ cup parmesan 
1 cup low fat milk
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried Italian spices (oregano, basil, etc.)
4 oz  (½ bag) shredded mozzarella
1 large can (28oz) crushed tomatoes, no salt 
6 tbs olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a shallow bowl, combine the cornflakes, parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.
3. Place the milk in another shallow bowl. Coat each chicken breast with the cornflake mixture, then the milk, then again with the cornflake mixture.
4. Transfer the coated chicken to an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
5. Bake the chicken until cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. 
6. In the meantime, prepare the sauce by heating the olive oil with the can of crushed tomatoes.
7. Once the tomato sauce is bubbling, add salt, pepper, and spices to taste. Turn heat to low and set aside.
8. At the twenty minute mark, remove chicken from the oven and ladle on a spoonful of tomato sauce and sprinkle on mozzarella cheese. Bake for another 5-10 minutes.
9. While waiting for the cheese to melt and the chicken to finish, scoop the pasta into the remaining tomato sauce and mix well.

✓ lean protein
✓ vegetable
✓ calcium
✓ low sodium
✓ monounsaturated fats

- Serve with whole wheat penne pasta and/or a vegetable such as olive oil sauteed broccoli or a romaine lettuce salad. 
- For a vegetarian option, replace chicken with firm tofu, and coat with egg instead of milk. 
- Skip the tomato sauce and mozzarella, and you have delicious crispy chicken fingers. 
When making the sauce, feel free to incorporate vegetables such as fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, or onions. These will add more flavor and nutrients to your meal.

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