Gooey Polenta Stuffed Bell Peppers and Lemon Panko Chicken

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Jacob and I are both people who love to eat, and are always trying to cheat by eating healthier renditions of things we love. We definitely enjoy good food, and I enjoy the puzzle of making “good soul food” healthy and guilt-free.

My running magazine had a recipe for stuffed bell peppers involving veggies and feta. acob will sometimes see an image in a magazine and he’ll ask me to “make that.” So that is exactly what I did (well a variation of it). As Bethenny Frankel says “use what you’ve got” so I did just that–managing to pull together the meal with what we had in the house. I had no feta in the house but I was inspired to make my own rendition of their “runner pepper.”

Though I don’t think anyone will feel like running after eating my gooey polenta stuffed pepper, it sure does taste good. The damage to your skinny jeans are minimal.

We have some good staples at home now including this tool below–an amazing mini Cuisinart oven. You can do almost anything with this little guy. The broiler is my best friend allowing me to make a rendition of any fried soul food I want. If you don’t have a mini-oven I recommend you check this one out. It heats food faster than a large oven, and wastes less energy. It’s also easier to clean. Win win win!

Panko Crusted Lemon Chicken

This chicken recipe is highly kid-friendly. It’s finger food! The pieces tend to look like chicken fingers–but much more fancier (wink wink).

Here’s what you will need

2 servings chicken breast (very lean)
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 lemons
1 tablespoon brown grain mustard
1 tablespoon garlic aioli mustard (trader joe’s brand)
salt/pepper
1/2 cup egg whites
olive oil spray

I like to marinate the meat beforehand so you are making up for the fatty-less flavor. Anywhere between three hours to thirty minutes prior to cooking–before put your chicken in the fridge with the marinade. I use the juice of one lemon along with the brown grain and aioli garlic mustard. I coat the chicken and let it sit in the fridge in a tightly sealed container.

When I’m ready to make the chicken, I get out one low flat dish to pour egg whites in (egg beaters will do). I then prepare a second low flat dish with panko bread crumbs. I then dip the chicken breast in the egg white covering both sides, and then lay the chicken in the panko bread crumbs on both sides. I put a touch of salt (garlic salt fine too) and pepper and repeat for all of the chicken. I put all the chicken on a piece of olive oil sprayed (or pam) foil and put it into the oven on “broil.” Broil makes the chicken crispy on top. When the chicken is nice and brown I take it out. One adjustment you might make is only putting bread crumbs on the side not facing the foil. It doesn’t take away from the chicken and will prevent sogginess underneath the chicken on the foil. I juice the chicken with one half a lemon–all over–when finished for a little more zest. I serve these with mustard or even ketchup. They are delicious and replace chicken fingers any day.

Gooey Polenta Stuffed Bell Peppers

This dish is pure comfort food. It’s very filling, healthy and even Vegetarian friendly. Here’s what you will need:

polenta (cooked)
1/3 cup skim milk
Light parmesan cheese
lentils (cooked)
Italian Parsley (2 tablespoons chopped)
Basil (2 tablespoons chopped)
Mexican mixed cheese (light shredded)
2 bell peppers (yellow or red)
light margarine, butter or olive oil (1 tablespoon)

First thing you will do is to chop your herbs and pair them with your lentils. Set aside on a cutting board. Second take your polenta, break it down into a pan and cook it in some light margarine, butter or olive oil (we use Smart Balance Light). Then pour in your milk and stir over medium heat. Make sure not to burn your pan. If you like cheesy polenta add some light parmesan cheese. Cut your peppers in halves and clean out any seeds or insides. Add the polenta until the cup (pepper) is 2/3 full. Then add one layer of lentils + herbs. Lastly add one more layer of the gooey polenta, and top with your Mexican cheese. Broil in the oven if you want the cheese on top to be crisp. Let cool and serve.

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