Oh, what a wonderful, snowy Christmas weekend we had here in Atlanta. I enjoyed so much food and cheer with friends that I spent all day Sunday just reflecting on the loveliness of it all. Hopefully, you felt the joy of the season as well. I took a few days away from the computer, but now I’m ready to catch you up to speed. I want to take you all the way back to the Thursday before the holiday really started. Back to the second bird in the bush…you know what I mean.
A long time friend of mine has been going through some soul-searching, and I wanted to feed her soul and her belly with something delicious. She also has trouble digesting specific foods, including milk and nuts. So, I prepared a meal with simple ingredients and nourishing power: Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken Breast with Mashed Butternut Squash and Sauteed Zucchini and Spinach.
I marinated the chicken breasts, bones still in tact, in lemon, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper. It stayed in the marinade overnight, giving the flavors time to penetrate the meat.
I roasted the bird with the skin on, helping the chicken stay nice and juicy. You can always choose to take the skin off after cooking if you want to save on the calories. (I’m not gonna lie- I am a sucker for crispy skin every time.) Just like with a holiday turkey, the skin protects the meat from the heat and adds to the level of moisture and tenderness your finished fowl will maintain.
I drizzled a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top and cooked it in a 375 degree oven until the juices ran clear and it looked like this:
When I think of nourishing foods that require very little manipulation, butternut squash is at the top of my list. It’s one of those magical cold weather crops that warms you from the inside out. It has many healing effects, loads of vitamins, fiber, and beta-carotene. Good for your body and your soul.
All I did was scoop out the seeds and make a spiced butter (one Tablespoon of butter for the whole squash) using paprika, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. The paprika contributes a little smoky surprise to a veggie that is sometimes taken too far to the sweet side for my liking. Then, I simply roasted it in the oven until it was fork tender, which took about an hour.
When the squash was cool enough, I scooped out the flesh and mashed it lightly in a bowl. No extra seasoning or cream or butter was required. The squash was just right.
The last part of this light meal included fresh spinach and zucchini. Both are lovely in their own right, but I only had half of a zucchini, so I combined the two together to make it work.
One clove of garlic and a couple minutes in the pan tranformed these vegetables into a perfect side dish. The crunch of the zucchini played well against the gently wilted spinach and added texture to the plate.
Light, rustic, flavorful, and nourishing. Exactly what I hoped this meal would be. And my friend was full and smiling in the end.
Nowadays, lots of people have food allergies or intolerances. I perceive those as challenges rather than limitations. In my research, I have found many businesses offering “canned” menus that may not work well for people with specific food needs. Plan to Plate embraces each client’s food preferences, goals, and requirements. Customizing every menu affords clients the opportunity to cook and enjoy a multitude of dishes that suit their needs and please their taste buds too!
Diverse food needs can be met without being boring or repetitive. I will continue to search for interesting ways to complement fresh ingredients with bright flavors while respecting and celebrating the foods themselves and the folks who are hungry for goodness.