Lean & Clean: Chicken Quinoa Chili

One of my biggest “secrets” to achieving my new lean & toned look is FOOD. Ever heard that abs start in the kitchen, not the gym? I jumped on that bandwagon and it has absolutely made all the difference for me. The Tone It Up nutrition plan is all about eating 5-6 clean meals a day, with special insight on when and when not to eat certain foods depending on the time of day. If I stray from my lean & clean eating, even for just a day or two, I instantly notice a not-so-nice change in my physique and energy level. And being a huge foodie, it can be very tempting! To keep me on track, I love searching for lean & clean meals that ACTUALLY taste good. Last night’s dinner was Chicken Quinoa Chili:

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I’m usually not a big fan of crockpot recipes. Sure, they “save you time”, but they rarely turn out. Why? They usually don’t allow the ingredients to develop the flavors they would had they been simmered over the stove or braised in the oven. However, when it comes to chili or soups, crockpots can be OK! The trick? Saute your veggies & aromatics before adding to the crockpot so they have a chance to sweat and build that yummy, home-cooked sabor.

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili
adapted from Sweet Treats and More
serves 4-6

  •   1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  •   1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (low sodium)
  •   1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes (low sodium)
  •   2 (16 oz) can black beans
  •   2.5 – 3 cup chicken stock (low sodium)
  •   1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  •   1/2 large onion, diced
  •   1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, diced (I did 2)
  •   1 Tbs coconut oil (or olive oil if you prefer)
  •   3 garlic cloves (Instead of chop, I grate mine on a microplane)
  •   1 1/2 tsp cumin
  •   1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  •   2 tsp tsp chili powder
  •   1 tsp salt
  •   2 large chicken breasts
  •   hot sauce, to taste
Combine the quinoa, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, black beans, and chicken stock in the slow cooker.
Meanwhile, in a medium pan, saute the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño with the oil, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, chili powder, and salt on medium high heat.  Cook until the vegetables have softened.  Stir mixture into slow cooker.
Nestle the chicken into the crockpot and cook on low 5-8 hours, until the chicken and quinoa are cooked through.  Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks, then return to the crockpot.  Serve with toppers like fresh cilantro, avocado or a dollop of nonfat plain greek yogurt (instead of sour cream!).
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