Eating healthy is a goal many people share, but it's hard, right? Not only is it difficult to find healthy meals, but so often these so-called healthy meals are full of ingredients you've never heard of. And even if you find recipes with ingredients you know and enjoy, they're often so devoid of balance that you're still starving after eating.
But eating healthy doesn't mean depriving yourself of filling foods you enjoy. Healthy eating is about balance, portion control and replacing unhealthy ingredients with healthier alternatives.
This cilantro lime chicken zoodles dish is a great example of a healthier meal. It substitutes traditional pasta for zucchini noodles (zoodles), dramatically cutting down on carbs and boosting your veggie intake. And with the flavorful chicken, you won't be hungry after eating.
But if your family isn't used to lighter dishes, they may feel something is lacking. That's where the homemade tortilla strips come in handy. While these aren't terribly healthy, they're better than most store-bought options (both in flavor and nutritional content) and add a great textural element to the dish.
2-3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 jalapeño, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Homemade Baked Tortilla Strips
6 corn tortillas
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
Homemade Baked Tortilla Strip preparation
- Cut the corn tortillas into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Place individually on a cookie sheet.
- Mix together the oil, chili powder, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, salt and cumin. Use a brush to lightly coat the tortilla strips with this mixture.
- Bake in a 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the tortilla strips become crisp.
- Remove the tortilla strips from the tray and allow to completely cool.
Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles preparation
- Cut off both ends of each zucchini. Cradle the zucchini in one hand and use a julienne peeler to make zucchini noodles. After a few strokes you will reach the seeds and the peeling will sound different. This means it's time to turn and repeat on another side. Continue until the zucchini has been peeled, leaving you with a plate full of zucchini noodles. Throw away the core with seeds.
- Heat a skillet with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil on high heat. Saute the garlic and jalapeño for about a minute. Add the chicken and continue to saute. When the chicken is close to being cooked through, add the salt, cumin and black pepper.
- Remove the chicken, garlic and jalapeños onto a plate and set aside. Be careful not to remove the juices, as you will use them in the next step.
- Place the zucchini noodles in the skillet and saute for about 2 minutes, mixing the zucchini noodles well. (NOTE: if there is not enough juice left from the previous step, you may need to add a little vegetable oil).
- Remove from heat and stir in the chicken, garlic and jalapeños. Finish it off with the cilantro lime juice. Top with the homemade baked tortilla strips.
This dish is so flavorful that my wife didn't add salt. Not once. This is a miracle since she adds salt to everything. The zoodles are light, yet filling. They have a texture very similar to traditional pasta and it's hard to notice you're even eating a veggie.
If you don't own a julienne peeler, you can accomplish a similar effect with a grater, vegetable peeler or a knife, but the julienne peeler makes it so much faster, and with better noodle consistency. And if you love this dish as much as my family did, it's definitely worth purchasing the peeler. Happy Zoodling!