Loving the BITE: Grilled Grapefruit Chicken
Right smack-dab in the middle of winter, when the produce section of your local grocery store seems a little drab and your cycling cleats feel a little frozen, you can still find a wonderful in-season fruit that will fight free radicals, reduce cholesterol, and reduce your cellular inflammation. And, if you embrace its sweet tartness, rather than fight, it may become your winter go-to fruit. In fact, its Latin name, Citrus paradise, refers to its wonderfully paradise-ish flavor. This week, we’re highlighting one of my absolute favorite fruits: the humble Grapefruit.
Recipe of the Week: Grilled Grapefruit Chicken
- 2 pink grapefruits
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon organic honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
First, prepare the grapefruits. Juice one grapefruit into a liquid measure. Peel the second grapefruit and do your best to remove all the white pith from it, exposing the flesh of the fruit. Use a knife if needed. Then, chop the segments into ½” pieces.
Place the wedges grapefruits in a medium sauté pan.
Pour the grapefruit juice into a bowl. To it, add the sugar and honey. Whisk to combine. Pour half of this mixture into the sauté pan with the grapefruit wedges and leave half in the bowl.
To the remaining half of grapefruit juice mixture in the bowl, add the oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk to combine and pour into a plastic bag. Add the chicken, seal and toss a bit before resting on the counter for 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t allow to set longer than 30 minutes as the acid in the grapefruit juice will “cook” the chicken and ruin it.
Meanwhile, bring the grapefruit wedge mixture to a simmer. Cook until liquid is reduced and slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
Heat a grill pan to medium high and brush lightly with oil. Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and shake off the excess marinade. Place the smooth-side down on the grill and cook 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and cook 2 minutes more. Remove to a serving plate and pour the grapefruit sauce over the top.
You’ve heard of the grapefruit diet, right? Eat grapefruits and lose weight. And of course, most cyclists wouldn’t mind losing fat and improving strength to weight ratio. But, is it science or quackery? Is there something magic to the grapefruit? Well, you can rest assured that I’m certainly NOT recommending you eat nothing but grapefruits. But, it may help to add them. Here’s some food for thought:
Grapefruits, specifically red ones, can lower bad cholesterol and promote heart health. In fact, Israeli researchers found that a daily red grapefruit could lower “bad” LDL cholesterol by 20.3% in just 30 days. And, they also lowered triglycerides by 17.2%. It might be the pectin fiber, the antioxidants, or most likely, the whole-food combination of nutrients that grapefruits offer.
Grapefruits support the immune system with high levels of vitamin C. More than one study has suggested that vitamin C is a cold fighter. The less you’re sick this winter, the more you can get out on your bike. And, as an antioxidant, Vitamin C works to reduce artery plagues, oxidative stress, and inflammation.
Grapefruits, like tomatoes, contain our old friend lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid nutrient that fights free radicals and may have anti-cancer properties. What’s more, grapefruits also provide limonoids, phytonutrients that inhibit tumor formation and promote more circulation of glutathione, a detoxifying enzyme and antioxidant.
And, weight loss: It’s true…reputable studies have shown that grapefruits can aide weight loss. When grapefruits (1/2 large) are added to a normal meal, or better yet, replace part of a normal meal, they’ve been shown to increase weight loss in study participants. Grapefruits tend to decrease insulin spikes after meals; and, when our bodies pump out insulin in response to food, they often store more fat than they would with a lesser insulin spike. If added to a good cycling training regimen that helps you continue to build strength, you could be riding stronger and lighter with the help of some grapefruits.
One warning for anyone on medications: Compounds in grapefruits do increase the levels of specific medications such as statins in the bloodstream. For anyone taking statins or another med that interacts with grapefruits, levels can become harmful. So, please know your medications, risk factors, interactions, and discuss with your doctor if you are unsure.
Bonus Recipe: Wake-me-up Citrus Smoothie
In blender or food processor, mix: 1 medium peeled orange or grapefruit, ½ cup fresh or frozen berries, 4 oz. cup plain organic yogurt (dairy, Greek, soy, etc), 1 Tablespoon Chia seeds or flaxseeds, 1 cup spinach, 1 scoop undenatured whey protein powder (15-20 grams), and Stevia or organic honey to taste. Heat (to liquefy) and add ½ Tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil to smoothie. Process until smooth.
(~400 calories, 42 gm carbs, 10 gm fiber, 25 gm protein)
This week, try a new snack. Put down the knife. Don’t slice & sugar it. Instead, peel and re-acclimate your taste buds to equating grapefruits as naturally sweet. Eat raw and whole and enjoy all the benefits of this paradise-flavored fruit as you lose any extra fat and ride strong and light.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.