Loving the BITE: Cashew-Encrusted Chicken

Bored with the same-old out-of-new-ideas dinner?  Let’s liven it up with a meal that’s company-worthy, compliments-guaranteed, and a change of pace from the usual grilled chicken.  Even better, it’s sure to benefit your heart, your arteries, your lungs, and your energy production – basically everything you need besides a bamboo bike to ride better, right (wink)?  Surely, you don’t need any more reasons to make:

Recipe of the week: Cashew-Encrusted Chicken

Ingredients:

  • Four 6-ounce Chicken Breasts or Thighs (organic, boneless & skinless)
  • 4 Tbsp any kind Flour
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • ½ Cups finely ground or chopped cashews (or Pecans or Macadamia nuts)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle 6 oz. chicken breast with salt & pepper, coat with flour, dip into beaten egg, and coat with ground nuts.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over med. heat. Cook chicken in oil until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Place in baking dish, bake 35-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

While chicken is baking, prepare ginger aioli by:  Combining Greek yogurt, lemon juice, mustard, and ground ginger.  Store in refrigerator.  Dollop over chicken to serve.

*If short on time (outcome not quite as fantastic, but close) – stir fry plain chicken (do not coat with nuts) in olive oil.  When almost cooked through, chop chicken into bite size piece using spatula.  Then, add salt/pepper and nuts.  Continue to stir-fry until cooked through, stirring ground nuts to coat chicken.  While chicken is cooking, prepare ginger aioli as above.

Comments on Cashews:

Nuts about cashews?  I am.  Great snack, awesome nut butter (just process with a small amount of peanut or olive oil in food processor until smooth), and tasty ingredient.  Although cashews do not receive the nutrition recognition of almonds and walnuts, they are absolutely a great source of nutrients and flavor.  I believe you simply can’t go wrong with nuts and cashews are no exception.  Here are the reasons I want to catch you with cashews:

1)  They are loaded with monounsaturated fats (MUFAs).  In fact, their specific MUFAs, the cleats and oleic acid (same as found in olive oil) are great for helping improve good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol.

2)  Antioxidants: The antioxidants found in cashews promote heart health and healthy cells – our cells constantly deal with oxidative stress, and we need all the antioxidants we can get!

3)  Copper: Few foods give us this essential mineral component of many enzymes that contribute to physiological processes such as iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin. Actually, for all you science buffs out there, copper is an essential component of the enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which is important in energy production and antioxidant defenses.

Better energy production?  Yes, please.

It’s also necessary for the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme involved in cross-linking collagen and elastin, both of which provide the ground substance and flexibility in blood vessels, bones and joints.  Remember, when you’re cycling, you want arteries that a healthy enough to accommodate the increased amounts of blood pulsing through your body.  Stiff arteries = increased blood pressure.

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