Diet Hacks: Citrus-Herb Marinade

When I cook my chicken for the week’s snacking and lunching, I often use this easy marinade.  It’s got enough flavor to really perk up the chicken, but the flavors are neutral enough to use any leftover chicken for other dishes or for lettuce wraps with various toppings.  This will work well with pork tenderloin as well.  Just about any fresh herb will work here (great use of leftover herbs), but my favorite combo is fresh basil and oregano.

Citrus-Herb Marinade

1 cup orange juice (bottled is fine)
2 limes, juiced
fresh herbs, few sprigs, leaves chopped
glug of olive oil
kosher salt (3/4 tsp per pound of meat)
black pepper or red chile flakes, to taste

Mix in a large freezer-duty Ziploc, add chicken, squeeze air out of bag, place on a dish, and refrigerate overnight. Lift chicken out of marinade before cooking. Discard remainder of marinade.

Diet Hack: Chicken Tenders for Protein Snacks

Chicken tenders make quick, lean protein snacks. No trimming and dirty cutting board needed (may depend on brand; Buddy’s from HEB need no help), marinate or season, roast on a foil-lined baking sheet (makes dish-washing  easy) at 375 for 10 minutes or until done (165F internal).  I eat these cold out of the fridge with my fingers and even take them on the go in a wee cooler and eat them while I drive. Can do the same with breasts, which are cheaper, but the tenders stay really moist and tender, are very forgiving if overcooked, and don’t require slicing or even a fork — they go straight from oven to storage container to mouth.  If you do go for chicken breasts, slice them before putting in the fridge so that they are still grab-n-go.

Diet Hack: Cold Roasted Green Beans

A great sub for salty, carby snacks. Buy a bag of pre-trimmed haricot verts , toss onto a foil-lined, rimmed sheet pan. (foil = no dish washing) Toss with oil, dried herbs or spices, kosher salt, pepper, sliced shallot if you’ve got it, spread to one layer (up to 2 lbs per full size pan) .  425F for 15 minutes, take out while still crunchy but starting to brown at ends.  Cool, taste for salt. Serve hot or eat leftovers cold. I like them quite salty and to eat them with my fingers to appease my taste for pretzels and potato chips.  Spice ideas: lemon pepper, dried basil, herbs de provence, aleppo pepper, szichuan pepper, red chile flakes.

Diet Hack: Emergency Protein

Protein snacks and very quick meals are hard to come by.  Instead of constantly grabbing quick carbs,  I make an “emergency protein” that gets me through the week. Any veggies banging around the bin (today it’s small diced butternut, onion, garlic, jalapeno, red bell, some end-of-its-life kale), saute till soft, add ground meat of choice, tons of (Penzey’s or good quality) curry powder, dried basil, salt. I wrap it in lettuce leaves or pile on a bed of baby spinach. Great way to use up lingering produce as the curry works with almost everything and ties random flavors together nicely. Not elegant, but tasty, easy, economical, and healthy.