Cook it light: Low-fat chicken, vegetables a healthful meal

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 31 2012 4:28 p.m. MST

Dear Jeanne: My sister made this the other day, and it tasted very good, but I felt that it could be improved nutritionally. What can you do to help, yet keep it the easy dish that it is?

Thank you.

— Carly, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Dear Carly: This was very good, but there was so much sauce that I thought I should add more chicken and some vegetables, and make more servings.

This isn't one of those recipes that you need all day to cook; you can make it in the slow cooker or cook it over low heat on the stove. I have replaced the dressing mix with my own seasonings, minus the salt, which substantially reduces the sodium.

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CROCK-POT ITALIAN CHICKEN

1 packet Italian dressing mix

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese

Sprinkle the dressing mix over the chicken in a crock-pot. Stir together the soup and cream cheese in a separate bowl, and pour the mixture over the chicken. Cook on low for 4 hours. Serve over pasta or rice.

Makes 4 servings.

LOW-FAT CREAMY CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

11/2 teaspoons onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian herbs

1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

2 cans reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms

1 package (16 ounces) frozen broccoli florets, thawed

1. Place the chicken pieces in the slow cooker and stir in the garlic, onion powder, celery seed, pepper and Italian herbs. In another bowl, combine the cream cheese and cream of mushroom soup. Stir into the chicken, cover and cook on low for 2 hours.

2. Add the mushrooms and cook another hour.

3. Add the broccoli and heat to serving temperature (about 15 minutes).

4. Serve over a brown-and-wild-rice mixture or whole-grain pasta.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original Recipe: 484 calories; 29 gm fat; 167 mg cholesterol; 1,497 mg sodium; 9 gm carbohydrates; 44 gm protein; trace of fiber. Revised Recipe: 353 calories; 13 gm fat; 120 mg cholesterol; 587 mg sodium; 15 gm carbohydrates; 43 gm protein; 4 gm fiber.

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