3 ways to cook flavourful and healthy chicken breast

With the growing number of burger places and steakhouses opening up all around Hong Kong, not only am I eating out at least 10 times a week, these dining out meals are getting increasingly oily. In an effort to extend my Make healthy Mondays a habit, I’ve been trying to dish out more healthy lunch meals for weekdays (2-3 per week), giving myself a little more burger-eating quota without gaining 100 pounds.

Meal preparation takes a huge amount of effort (3 hours on a Sunday afternoon), so I’ve come up with three different ways to make the same meat (chicken breast), in attempt to introduce some variety into my lunch boxes, without the effort of making something totally different every day.

Where to buy your herbs and spices

Herbs and spices are key to adding colour and flavour to meals (without adding unhealthy ingredients like sugar, salt or soy sauce). I recently discovered better quality spices from online store Regency Spices and found they are much more effective in flavouring up a piece of meat, compared with the ones found at supermarkets. They’re not more expensive either.

On that note, please avoid the herbs and spices from 759 store (阿信屋). They are super cheap (about HK$15 for a standard bottle) for a reason – they actually carry close to zero flavour.

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Paprika and garlic granules crusted chicken fillets with quinoa, pasta shells and tomatoes, topped with onions and shallots. Add some cheese to make it even yummier!

1. Paprika and garlic granules crusted (favourite)

For those who love garlicky food, the garlic granules from Regency Spices is perfect for marinating chicken breast. The breast meat is usually quite bland; smothering it with paprika and garlic granules achieves my favourite result for an exciting lunchbox. The granules act very much like garlic salt, except without the salt, which you wouldn’t want to add much of to your “healthy” lunch.

Use:

  • Tad of white pepper
  • Generous amount of paprika
  • Generous amount of garlic granules

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Put your chicken fillets/breasts in the oven at 160 degrees for 11-12 minutes (assuming your chicken is at room temperature to start with).

2. Cumin and black pepper

Carrying a very strong and distinct smell and taste, cumin is probably my favourite spice. I thought it was only meant for lamb, but turns out it’s a really great way to marinate chicken too. You can try mixing the cumin with garlic granules too, but since both have strong flavours, I like to keep the apart so that each flavour gets a chance to stand out once!

Use:

  • Tad of white pepper
  • Tad of paprika (I like to do that for layering and colour)
  • More-than-generous amount of cumin (until you can really smell it during the marinating process)
  • Good amount of black pepper

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But cumin is still most epic when used to marinate lamb chops!

3. Spicy masala and herbs

Adding spice to a lunchbox is definitely one effective way to introduce variety, while it’s also supposed to speed up your metabolism. I bought some masala powder from Thailand a while back and I think it’s meant to be used for curry, but turns out to be great with marinating chicken too.

Use:

  • Tad of white pepper
  • Good amount of paprika
  • Good amount of masala powder
  • Some chili flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • Mixed herbs

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Meal preparation is hard work!

I didn’t mention any specific measurements of the ingredients, but that’s because it really depends on how much meat you are cooking (as well as personal tastes). Please feel free to leave comments for any questions!

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