Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Yummy Energy-Boosting, Protein-Packed, Low-Carb Smoothie

I am in love with this smoothie I made.  I don't have a pic of it, because I am halfway through the glass already, and it doesn't look really pretty.  I'll have to take one next time I make it--but here's the recipe (this makes 2 smoothies):

1 bottle of Atkins Vanilla low-carb shake (2 grams carbs, 15 grams protein)
1/2 cup frozen Berry Medley Blend from Wal-Mart, No Sugar Added (6 grams carbs)
1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek Yogurt--NOT fat-free! 2% or 4% (4 grams carbs, 3 grams protein)
1 or 2 good handfuls of fresh baby spinach (1 carb, if that, 1 gram protein)

That's it, believe it or not.  I just use a little bullet smoothie maker for this.

You absolutely CANNOT taste the spinach.  I am serious!

This is a serious energy booster.  Drink this sucker and go for a good long walk.  We'll find out how filling it is.  It's definitely a low-calorie, low-carb protein boost for your day. :-)  Even Matt liked it--so you know that says something!

No yoga this morning. I am thinking about going for a walk, though. Mountain Cedar is killing everyone and though I am not really allergic like some folks, I do get affected.  Mostly a light but steady headache, a little bit of a sore throat (like I've been yelling all day).  Two days ago we had the highest Mountain Cedar pollen count in about 10 years--it was just over 26K ppm.  That's pretty insane.
In any case, I've made a commitment to be active in some way each day, so here I go...but first I must tell you about my Low-Carb Meyer Lemon Chicken that I made last night for dinner.  I took photos of the steps involved...but...it was so good, and we were so hungry, that I actually did not take a photo of my plate.  It looked so pretty, too.  I did however take a photo of one of the leftover pieces, and I put some sauce on it so you can see that at least I made an attempt at closure. LOL.  Because you can't go around posting pics of all the steps and then NOT have a final photo!  That's just not right. ;-)

This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light.  We have a Meyer lemon tree that gave us 11 lemons this year (it would have been 16, had it not been for our lawn service knocking several off with a weed whacker).  The two things to remember with Meyer lemon trees, aside from the obvious:

1. Once it fruits, your bounty usually more than doubles each year until tree maturity.  Last year, we had 3-4 viable lemons.

2. Many small, baby lemons from the flower buds will drop off.  This is normal.  It's sort of self-thinning in that regard.  This year, we had probably 20 tiny green baby lemons, no bigger than the size of my pinky fingernail, drop off.  This actually puts the remaining energy from the plant into the stronger lemons and allows them to grow to larger sizes.  So don't panic if you see all your little tiny lemons falling off!  As long as you see that some are maturing, you're all good.

The only real change to this recipe I make is that I do not dredge the chicken in flour.  I do, however, make a small cornstarch slurry at the end to help thicken the sauce. I also DOUBLE this recipe, so we can have leftovers!

Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata 

4 thin-cut chicken breasts (I get them at WalMart, see photo for brand)
1/3 c. juice from Meyer lemons (about 3 large lemons)
1/3 c. chicken broth
2 T. butter, divided
1 T. coconut, safflower, or grapeseed oil (for high-heat cooking)
1/2 c. white wine (not dry--try a table white, Sauvignon Blanc, etc) 
kosher salt
fresh-ground pepper
flat-leaf parsley for garnish, rough chop
Slurry (1 T. cornstarch, 1 T. cold water, stirred)

look at that beautiful Meyer lemon juice! 

This is the brand of chicken that I buy at Walmart.

Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of waxed paper or saran wrap.  Use a tenderizer or rubber mallet to whack the chicken down to about 1/4" thickness.  This is why I buy the thin cut breasts--it makes this SO much easier to do!  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.  

In a large skillet, put 1 T. of butter and 1 T. oil.  Bring to a medium-high heat.  Place chicken (do not overcrowd, you will have to do this in stages) in pan.  Cook 2 minutes on one side, 1 minute on the other side.  

Take out of skillet and set on dish, cover with foil loosely.  Now cook the rest of the chicken the same way.

When chicken is finished, put in wine.  It will sizzle and steam intensely.  Deglaze pan by scraping all those luscious bits off the bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. When it has reduced to just about zero, add chicken broth.  Let come to a boil and lower heat to medium, reducing to about half.  Add lemon juice.  Add slurry.  

Bring back to a simmer, then serve chicken with sauce on top.  Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley.

Yeah, it's kind of a sad pic.  Better late than never?

We served ours with a lovely salad of baby greens, parmesan, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.  We also had steamed broccoli.  It was so tasty.  There's really nothing in the world like eating something that you grew yourself.  It's very satisfying! 

Okay, off for my walk now. 

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