Maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean abstaining from your favorite Latin dishes; instead, it’s about making practical choices about the foods you love. Case in point: we should all eat more chicken instead of carne guisada and bistec. Chicken – especially skinless, white meat chicken – has less cholesterol and saturated fat than red meat, which, if consumed daily, has been associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer. The American Heart Association recommends that diners opt for chicken, fish and beans over red meat and as it turns out, choosing chicken can go a long way when it comes to heart health. Today, we bring you three delicious chicken recipes that utilize Latin flavors in classic favorites like empanadas and hearty stews, making them a healthy option for dinner any night of the week. So go ahead: pass the ropa vieja!
Chicken ropa vieja
Cuban ropa vieja is traditionally made with skirt steak and simmered over low heat with plenty of onions and peppers until it’s fork-tender. Our version has the same, full-bodied flavors but uses lean chicken breast instead of red meat. For an added boost of nutrition, serve it over brown rice instead of white.
2 large chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
1 qt low sodium chicken stock
1 T olive oil
1 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can low sodium tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 T white wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1. Place the chicken breasts into a medium pot and pour chicken stock over them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until breasts are completely done. Remove the breasts from the stock and place on a cutting board. Allow to cool until you can comfortably handle the meat with your fingers. (Reserve the stock for another use.)
2. Once the chicken is cooled, remove the skin and bones. With your fingers, shred the chicken along the grain so that you have long, fine slivers of meat. Set these aside.
3. In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat for a full minute. Add the peppers and onions and sauté until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the shredded chicken and stir to combine.
4. Add the tomato sauce, sherry, vinegar and bay leaf and stir to combine. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Remove the bay leaf, and serve over brown rice. Makes 4 servings.
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