08 28 2014.

baked cajun chicken and spinach salad

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This week has been sort of a lull compared to my normal schedule. On a whim, I joined my mom and sister at a new spin class on Monday night. As I normally (yet unintentionally) do, I started out too hard and have rendered myself useless these past few days. I’m sore everywhere. I had to cut my run short on Tuesday because my quads were screaming at me and my poor, limping form was causing more harm than good. The four flights of stairs that I take every morning to get to my office have just about killed me. I’ve resorted to living room core work and dining room spinning. On the plus side, these seemingly quicker workouts have actually allowed me more time to cook real dinners.

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I’m not much of a meat eater – I only eat meat once or twice a week – but when I do eat meat, it’s usually chicken. I love the versatility of chicken. You can bake it, fry it, grill it, cook it in a crock-pot. You can shred it, serve it cold, eat it with vegetables, top it with marinara, dip it in bread crumbs.

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Chicken is so easy to cook and it’s so easy to switch up. I especially love popcorn chicken – or chicken with a crunch – but I’m not a big fan of fried foods, and neither is my body! But…you can have your chicken and eat it too. This chicken isn’t fried, it’s baked, and it’s still crunchy! I also serve it over a bed of spinach with some other healthy and crunchy veggies.

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This recipe makes roughly 4 servings (4 salads), depending on how much chicken you like in your salad.

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Baked Cajun Chicken and Spinach Salad

yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 4 chicken tenders (about 1 large chicken breast, sliced lengthwise into quarters)
  • 2 Tbsp. milk or almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • spinach
  • shredded carrots
  • cucumber, sliced
  • feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Beat the egg and milk together in one bowl. In a second bowl, mix the panko and Cajun seasoning.
  3. Cut your chicken tenders into small nugget-sized piece. (About 1-2 inches in diameter.) First dip the chicken into the egg mixture, then coat with the panko mixture. Place coated chicken on the baking sheet.
  4. Cook the chicken nuggets for 15 minutes, or until fully cooked. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. While waiting for the chicken to cook, prepare your salad. Assemble spinach, carrots, cucumber slices and feta cheese in a bowl. Add in extra ingredients if desired. Top with cooked chicken.
  6. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar on to each salad serving.

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