Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MUFA'S and Rice Stuffed Balsamic Chicken

MUFA is my new mantra.

And what you ask is a MUFA? Well first let me tell you that a MUFA is the remedy to the most dreaded, obscene, frightening thing that can happen to a woman - BELLY FAT.

Who among us hasn't fought the battle of the bulge at some point in our lives? And worse than just the way Belly Fat makes us look and feel, doctors now tell us that it is the most dangerous kind of fat to carry around. Belly Fat increases our odds of contracting heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Geez. And I just thought it looked bad.

But wait - science AND food (the very thing that got us into this mess) to the rescue. In the form of MUFA's. Otherwise known as monounsaturated fatty acids, MUFA'S are the good fats found in some oils, olives, nuts and seeds, avocados and dark chocolate (alleluia)

The latest nutritional information suggests that by eliminating bad fats and adding a MUFA (good fat) at every meal, you will flatten your belly and loose weight. To test this theory I am currently following The Flat Belly Diet by Rodale Press. I am just ending the first phase of the diet, which is a four day "cleanse". The next 28 days I will be following the guidelines of the book by eating four 400 calorie meals a day and including a MUFA in each of these meals.

A cook on a diet is not a pretty sight. I love to cook freely, testing my original recipes, shopping for new ingredients and tweaking old menu plans. With that said, I am determined to make every one of these meals healthy, delicious, beautiful and easy to make and I will use all my skills, knowledge and available cookery tricks to accomplish this. My judge and fellow diet traveller is TBHITW. I told you he was the best, he is willing to eat along with me for 28 days. All in the name of my kitchen research and good health (and yes, love).

Care to follow along on this journey?

Rice Stuffed Balsamic Chicken (serves 4) - approximately 400 calories

1 cup brown rice (prepared with 1/2 water and 1/2 low salt vegetable broth - yield 2 cups prepared
4 Tablespoons almonds, toasted and chopped
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon parsley, minced
A few grinds freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare rice according to package directions using 1/2 water and 1/2 vegetable broth. When cooked, stir in almonds, garlic, parsley and pepper. Set aside.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Cut a pocket deep into each chicken breast and spoon about 1/2 cup rice into each cavity. If needed, skew with a tooth pick to seal.
Preheat oven to 400.
Heat oil in an oven proof saute pan and brown the chicken on the top (smooth side) about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Turn chicken over and place in oven. If you don't have an oven proof saute pan, spray a rimmed cookie sheet with nonstick spray and place chicken raw side down on cookie sheet. Either way, bake for 20-30 minutes or until rice reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees.

While the chicken is cooking, place 1 cup balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a high simmer. Continue to simmer until vinegar is reduced and reaches the syrup stage. Remove from heat.

When chicken is cooked through, slice each breast in 6 to 8 slices. Distribute among 4 plates and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Divide the remaining rice among 4 plates.

Serve with simple steamed squash, green beans, mushrooms or carrots.

A Cook's Notes: The MUFA in this meal is from the almonds and olive oil. Each serving is about 4 ounces of chicken, 1/2 cup of rice and 1 cup of steamed vegetables. If you want some additional flavor on your vegetables, spritz with fresh lemon juice or orange juice. Steamed carrots sprinkled with a little ginger and a spritz of orange juice is a family favorite. Also notice I did not add any salt to the meal. The balsamic vinegar, while having 0% sodium adds a "salty" flavor really kicking up the chicken.

Tomorrow: Breakfast for a busy Friday.


  1. Just the other day, I read of someone ELSE putting balsamic vinegar on their chicken and I was all like, "What?! Why have I not thought of that?" And just because I can't touch meat, I would probably make the chicken without stuffing it with rice and rather serve it on the side, but this looks good all around.

    That, and my brother makes flavored vinegars with herbs from his garden, so I bet one of those would be awesome, too.

  2. Yummmmy! On day 6 of my cleanse I get to have chicken, brown rice and steamed zucchini so I will definitely use this recipe as olive oil consumption is encouraged throughout!

    Thanks for posting this! I made the BEST steamed Tilapia last night (whether it was REALLY that good or if I was just starving will have to be up to other people to test, I'm afraid ; )

  3. That sounds so good. Winter is a great time to do this..... but winter is my time of using up whatever is in the freezer..... We aren't heavy in the cash flow department this time of year. Today I "found" a smoked turkey carcass. I brought it to a boil and deboned it. It had a surprising amount of breast meat on it. I put the meat in the water and added a chicken buillion cube with a tad (maybe one serving) of leftover creamed corn and the same amount of green beans and one diced potato. It was actually very good with a smokey flavor. Hubby had cheese on top of his....I ate mine naked.

  4. Kathy -

    That sounds good! Cooking with what you have on hand and creating something new is really what cooking is all about! Creamy, smoky, chunks of potatoes and green beans.. yum!

    Next time though, gently simmer that carcass instead of boiling it. You can use the simmered water in your soup as it will be a flavorful broth. Boiling brings out the white scum (protein from the bone) and makes the broth bitter and unusable. - A Good Cook Tip.

  5. I do the almonds and the dark chocolate--I've probably eaten my quota for all of January. Now if I could just cut out the bad fats....

  6. This chicken with the rice stuffing sounds wonderful! I love balsamic vinegar and will definitely give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Josh and I have a almond/flax smoothie once a day. If we don't get around to doing that, we just eat a handful of almonds or we put flax powder in our orange juice!

    I had the bulge in my baby fat years in high school... Eeew...

    I wonder if I could stuff some tofu with rice and top it with balsamic vinegar..!?

    When one freezes tofu and then thaws it, it has a very similar texture to chicken.

  8. They are good for us and delicious! Win-win there!

  9. Marguerite - we really enjoyed it!

    Phoebe - I am having a peach / soy smoothie with a Tablespoon of flaxseed oil in it right now!

    Debbie - YES! I'm a believer!

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Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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