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DINING HALL CREATIONS: The chicken breast (part 1)

Oh, the underappreciated chicken breast. A bastion of reliability in a forever changing array of dining hall offerings, it sits in Dewick or Carmichael waiting for someone to notice it among the likes of burgers, sausage, and the day’s specials.

Okay, melodrama aside, Tufts’ chicken breast provides a unique opportunity for the amateur gourmet and hungry freshman alike. Nutritionally speaking, it’s one of the best sources of protein you can find at a dining hall – Dewick’s is 133 calories, 4g fat, 0g carbs, and 23.5 grams of protein; Carmichael’s larger size is 211 calories, 6.8g fat, and an impressive 35.2g  of protein–half of the nationally-recommended amount.

From a food perspective, chicken also offers a lot of options – in salads, sandwiches, wraps, and on its own. Chicken breasts are a great way to add some protein to your meal. Here are a few suggestions:

If you’re looking at the salad bar, give the cold julienne chicken a miss and cut up your own–the packaged chicken strips they offer have as much sodium in a single strip as an entire hot chicken breast.

Here are three tasty and filling chicken breast salad combinations. The best part is that the ingredients will be around in whenever you want them:

CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD

This makes a great lunch, providing plenty of filling protein and that rich Caesar salad taste without a crazy number of calories.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • 2 cups lettuce, romaine if available
  • A lemon (can be found by the coffee/tea)
  • Optional:
  • Additional salad fixings, such as onions or mushrooms
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, diced up
  • Bleu or feta Cheese

For the dressing:

  • You can use either the bottled Caesar, or for a low-fat version, a vinaigrette.

Directions:

  1. Cut the chicken breast into thin strips and drizzle lemon juice over the chicken. If you are using a hard-boiled egg, dice it. Put the salad in a salad bowl and grab a second bowl. Add the proteins to the salad.
  2. Pour desired amount of dressing in the second bowl (adding it to salad bowl may cause the salad to mix irregularly). Shake well so that the dressing and ingredients mix thoroughly and enjoy.

Nutrition (for 2 chicken breasts, Dewick version, and a hardboiled egg, with two tablespoons Caesar dressing): 427 calories, 22g fat, 3g carbs, 52g protein, 545mg sodium.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN PEANUT SALAD

If you love peanut butter, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the thick peanut butter dressing’s combination of sweet and sour.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • Lettuce, mesclun if available
  • bean sprouts

Optional:

  • julienned green pepper
  • 4-6 tofu cubes
  • carrot strips

For the dressing:

  • Two tablespoons natural peanut butter (found near the spreads in Dewick in its own container). Two tablespoons is enough to spread on a slice of bread. You can use a regular peanut butter as well, but it will be saltier.
  • Hot water (found near the coffee)
  • Soy sauce, to taste
  • Sriracha, if you want a spicy dressing

Directions:

Take two salad bowls. In one, add the salad mix. Bean sprouts, carrots, and peppers are recommended additions for a more varied salad. You can also add nuts or onions. Tofu adds texture and protein and is also recommended. In the second bowl, add peanut butter, soy sauce, and hot water together until the mixture becomes a thick liquid. Add additional soy sauce and/or sriracha to taste. Dice the chicken breast into thin strips and add to the second bowl, covering well in the dressing. Combine contents of the two bowls and shake well to mix.

Nutrition (with Tofu and Carrots added): 371 calories, 20g fat (14g healthy nut fats), 11g carbs, 36g protein, 720mg sodium.

SOUTHWESTERN CHICKEN SALAD

This spicy, meaty salad is a great source of protein and flavor; you can easily turn this into a burrito by just replacing the salad mix.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato slices
  • Kidney beans
  • Onions
  • Green pepper

Optional:

  • Shredded white cheddar
  • Pickled peppers (found with the salsa)
  • Black beans (found with vegetarian food)

For the dressing:

  • Salsa
  • Tabasco (optional)

Directions:

Take two salad bowls and mix the components well by shaking. Add salsa. Cut the chicken breasts into chunks and combine in the second bowl with beans and tabasco (if desired) to taste. Add to the salad mix and shake very well (so the beans, peppers, and tomatoes mix thoroughly). Top with sour cream and/or guacamole if desired.

Nutrition: 476 calories, 18g fat, 19g carbs, 60g protein, 810mg sodium

Stay tuned for more dining hall creations next week!

-Edmund Brennan

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Thanks for the ideas. I sometimes use the chicken breast in quesadillas with spinach, mushrooms, muenster cheese, and lemon–just throw it on the panini press for 2 minutes per side–tastes great, realtively healthy, easy to make, and fun to eat 🙂

    November 13, 2012

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