Kait's Meal of the Month: Almond Crusted Chicken

October 19, 2012 | Kait Fortunato

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Editor's Note: Tired of reading why it's important to eat healthy and what your diet should consist of? If you're a STACK reader, you know by now that certain foods are better than others; but how do you actually apply that knowledge to your daily eating habits?

We are pleased to announce a solution. Each month STACK Expert and sports dietitian Kait Fortunato will provide a recipe to STACK athletes right out of her own kitchenEach recipe will be accompanied by a catalog of its benefits to athletes and Fortunato's advice about the best time to consume it. All of the recipes are healthy, quick and easy to prepare and, best of all, great-tasting. 

Almond Crusted Chicken Breasts

Athletes' food choices can be dull and boring. How many times can you eat boneless, skinless chicken breast and a side of broccoli? Get inspired. Try some new recipes, like this unique twist on a classic breaded favorite.

One night, after a quick glance at my pantry revealed a small amount of whole-wheat breadcrumbs, I decided to mix them with sliced almonds. The result was a nice crunchy coating to the usual plain chicken breasts.

Ingredients (serves four):

  • Four chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced almonds (save 1/4-cup for topping)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 egg whites
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Prepare a pan with cooking spray
  • Mix breadcrumbs with 1-1/4 cups of sliced almonds
  • Season mixture with garlic powder, red pepper, salt and pepper
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites together
  • Dip chicken breasts in egg batter, then evenly coat them with almond/breadcrumb mix and place in pan
  • Be careful of cross contamination: discard any leftover breadcrumb/almond mix and be sure to wash your hands and your countertop
  • Bake chicken in the oven for about 25 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165F
  • While the chicken is cooking, toast the rest of the almonds on the stovetop by heating a pan with a drizzle of olive oil over low heat

Serve the chicken over a bed of cooked spinach with a serving of tomato sauce for dipping.

Nutrition Facts (2 chicken breasts):

  • Calories: 605
  • Protein: 57 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 20 grams
  • Fat: 29 grams (mostly good fats from the almonds)
  • Sodium: 398 mg
  • Fiber: 6 grams

Benefits to Athletes

The addition of almonds gives this recipe a serving of healthy fats to keep you full and provide long-lasting energy. Plus, omega-3 fats help lower triglycerides and cholesterol and reduce inflammation, lessening joint aches and pains. (Read about Healthy vs. Unhealthy Fats.)

Chicken is one of the leanest sources of protein and a healthy choice for athletes to meet their daily requirements. It's also a good source of B vitamins (niacin and B6), which help with energy production. The whole grains in the whole-wheat breadcrumbs provide fiber and unrefined carbohydrates—excellent for regulating blood sugars. Although the recipe contains only a small amount of garlic, its health advantages are quite large. Known for its cardiovascular benefits, such as reducing cholesterol and triglycerides, garlic also protects blood cells and blood vessels from inflammatory and oxidative stress. (Read more on vampires' worst nightmare here.)

Bottom line: the recipe offers both low glycemic carbohydrates and low cholesterol with plenty of protein and healthy fats. Paired with high GI post-workout carbs, it would be great either as a recovery meal soon after a workout or a dinner choice on recovery days. All in all, a perfect way to spice up boring chicken breasts with added health benefits. And the crunch from the almonds makes this dish tasty and satisfying.

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
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