Lightened up? What the what? Are you on the right blog? Seriously, I’m asking you cause I’m really not sure myself.
I don’t DO lightened up. Don’t get me wrong, I like eating healthy and all. I’m on a huge Kombucha kick right now and although I originally thought this fermented tea drink would make me gag, I’ve actually been chugging it daily. I eat protein bars and Greek yogurt for snacks and drink like 6 travel mugs of green tea a day. So I do consider myself a fairly healthy eater.
However, what I don’t DO is lighten up classic dishes. I wouldn’t dare sub in low fat milk in a recipe that calls for cream. I don’t use margarine because, come on, that’s sacrilege right there. And above all, I would never, ever, use sweeteners that contain aspartame or any other man made sweetener for that matter. I won’t get into the whole thing and I know that there are a lot of people that use those sweeteners for health reasons like diabetes etc. However I have read many recent studies that show that the chemicals in the sweeteners are really bad for us. I also think they taste yucky!
I am of the belief that everything is about balance. If you ate a double cheeseburger for lunch then, no, you probably shouldn’t eat a massive bowl of pasta for dinner, but if you ate a salad for lunch, then heck, dig into the pasta later that night. I don’t deprive myself of any single food, I just try to eat it in moderation if it’s low in nutritional value or high in calories.
That being said, I do often lighten up the method of cooking. As opposed to removing/substituting specific ingredients from a recipe, I usually just change up the cooking process. For example, the main reason this recipe is lightened up is that I baked the chicken instead of pan fried it. I used panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs so you still get the super crunchy outside, but since it is baked, it is much less greasy! I also used chicken thighs which have a lot more flavor than chicken breasts, so you aren’t missing the rich fried taste.
See it’s all about balance!
Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan
6 bone in & skin on, chicken thighs
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp water
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
Non stick oil spray
3 cups of your favorite marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1 lb uncooked pasta (I used linguine)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack (about the same size of the baking rack) on top of it.
Using paper towels, dry the chicken all over. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
In 3 shallow bowls, place the flour in one bowl, the egg and water in the second bowl and the panko in the last bowl. Season both the flour and the egg mixture with salt and pepper.
Start by dipping the chicken thigh into the flour, and then the egg mixture and lastly into the panko. Once fully breaded, place on the baking rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken thighs. Once all the chicken is coated. Just give each piece a quick spray with the oil spray.
Bake the chicken at 350 for 45 minutes, until completely cooked through.
In the meantime, get your water boiling for your pasta as well as heat your marinara sauce in a wide pan over medium low heat. Once the chicken is finished, remove from the oven and get your pasta cooking as per the package directions. Add the chicken to the marinara sauce, leaving the heat on medium low, just allowing the bottom of the chicken pieces to touch the sauce so the top stays crispy. Top each piece with a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan and cover the pan with the lid.
By the time the pasta is finished, the cheese should be melted completely onto the chicken. Serve the chicken and sauce over the cooked pasta.