Something I haven’t yet gone into much detail about here is my perspective on nutrition/health. It’s partly because, as a registered dietitian who has a pretty complicated relationship with food, that perspective is still being shaped, constantly stretched between competing passions for long term health and wellness vs. enjoyment of life through indulgence in its richness. And then don’t even get me started in the other, more un-glamorous desires- the one to look good, to feel thin enough, but then also the one to eat away my emotions. All of the emotions. I’d love to be able to say that, having studied nutrition and having worked in this field for the past 3 years, I’ve mastered the delicate balance between all of these things and arrived at some magical place of contentment with who I am while also having the self-control to eat only one cookie. But- and I say this with great humility- I am constantly realizing that all the head knowledge I’ve gained since I decided, as a teenager with a borderline eating disorder, to pursue nutrition knowledge has for the most part not translated into apple-a-day perfection.
Like many, I have good phases and bad phases. In the good phases, I realize that eating well- lots of fresh produce, moderate grains (always whole), lean proteins- is actually the most enjoyable way to eat, not only because I feel physiologically better but also because the natural flavors are so rich! I’m a firm believer in enjoying food as nourishment for both body and soul, and I do think it’s absolutely possible to achieve this as a lifestyle.
I made these burritos for a hike I did out in the Berkshires with one of my dearest friends last month. I think they are appropriate for this post because they are packed with lean protein, fiber, vitamin A and also are quite tasty, if I do say so myself. The perfect balance of treating yoself right and loving it.
1 lb chicken breast, cut into chunks (about 1/2 inch cubes)
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes, any variety (I used jewel yams)
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 15oz can black beans, low sodium
~5 leaves kale, torn into bite sized pieces
1 clove garlic
2oz goat cheese or sliced swiss cheese
8 whole wheat tortillas (8-inch)
Roast sweet potatoes
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Peel sweet potatoes, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt; toss to coat all the sweet potato pieces with oil and salt.
3. Put sheet in preheated oven and roast 15 minutes, flip pieces, then continue roasting an additional 10-15 minutes, until tender.
4. Remove from heat and set aside while preparing other ingredients.
Prepare the chicken:
1. Mix olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper in a small bowl or jar.
2. Slice onion into thin half moon crescents. Place onion and chicken chunks into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or glass bowl. Pour marinade mixture over and stir/toss to coat.
3. Let chicken and onions marinate for at least 30 minutes (preferably overnight!)
4. Heat a large skillet pan on medium heat with ~1 T olive oil. Place marinated chicken/onion mixture into pan and saute on medium heat ~5-7 minutes, then reduce heat to low, cover pan, and let chicken continue cooking until no longer pink in the middle.
5. Turn off heat and set aside while assembling other ingredients.
Saute the kale:
1. Wash the torn kale, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and massage with hands to soften.
2. Mince 1 clove garlic.
3. Heat a medium sized skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Place garlic and kale in skillet, saute until kale is wilted.
Assemble the burritos:
1. Place cheese on tortilla, about 1 inch from the center. Heat tortilla/cheese in microwave for about 30 seconds, to allow cheese to start to melt.
2. Put 1/8 of the prepared chicken, kale, sweet potatoes, black beans on top of the cheese.
3. Roll burrito by folding in short edges of the tortilla, then rolling to wrap all of the contents.
4. Serve immediately, or wrap with foil/plastic wrap and keep in fridge or freezer (NOTE: best to allow burritos to cool to room temp before wrapping and freezing, as condensation can turn into freezer burn!). I would recommend also grilling burritos on a George Foreman grill/panini press prior to serving!