I absolutely love zoodles! There I said it. Ever since I got that wonderful spiralizer attachment to my favorite kitchen item (a kitchen aid stand mixer) I have been spiralizing just about anything. Beets, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, and well…lots and lots of zucchini.
You know what else I love?! Sharing health and wellness within the community. As a dietitian, this has always been my passion, to promote balanced lifestyles, to learn how to enjoy all foods, to set health goals (not weight goals), to nourish our bodies instead of deprive, and to be positively happy with who we are and how we look.
This leads me to heart healthy month that takes place throughout February. So, what exactly does this mean? Besides getting to wear red (my favorite color) and jeans to work, challenge coworkers to increase their step count, and run/walk a 5k at the end of the month, it is helping bring awareness to every single person out there about taking care of their heart (and nutrition plays a huge role in that)… because, it’s the only one we have... and hey, we have to make sure its working well for when V-day comes around this month!
As a self-proclaimed foodie and wanna be chef, I’ve always had a passion for putting a healthy spin on indulgent recipes that we can enjoy daily (hence having a balanced lifestyle), because let’s face it, I am not resisting the day after V-day candy that’s going to be on super sale. So, as I was thinking of a recipe for heart healthy month, my love, zoodles came to mind! I also had some chicken and marinara sauce on hand, so chicken parmesan is what’s for dinner! (the heart healthy version, that is)
Here’s the cast of characters:
Who doesn’t love simple recipes with minimal ingredients…not just me? Good!
So go ahead and gather up your ingredients. Then set up your breading station to get the chicken going.
Whisk the eggs so they are ready for coating.
Then go ahead and dip the chicken tenders in whole wheat flour, followed by the eggs and finally the bread crumb mixture… in that order. Yes, I mean it! Don’t go backwards, I promise ya it won’t work.
Lay ‘em on a non stick baking sheet, sprayed with oil, and place the sheet in your 400 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, let’s get to those zoodles, shall we?
If you don’t have a spiralizer, don’t fret, you can always buy zoodles ready to go from just about any store nowadays..promise I’m not the only one that loves them so much. However, if you are like me and tend to eat zoodles once..maybe 3-4 times a week (no, I don’t have a problem) then investing in a spiralizer is definitely the more economical route. Whichever way you choose, get those zoodles going!!
Ladies and gents..introducing my baby, my absolute favorite kitchen equipment of all time, my most prized possession, and the reason why I can zoodle my heart out!
I get a little carried away. When you get your zucchini in perfect noodle form, transfer it to a nonstick pan over medium heat.
I sprayed the pan with oil, added 2 tbsp of chopped garlic and a pinch of dried basil and oregano. Sauté for about 5 minutes to still allow the zoodles to maintain their texture.
Once 15 minutes are up, pull the chicken tenders out of the oven, spread 1 tbsp of your favorite low sodium marinara sauce on top of each tender, followed by a 1 tbsp of low-fat mozzarella cheese, then back in the oven the go for another 10-15 minutes.
Don’t these look amazing!! Crispy, saucy, cheesy... just all this goodness on a perfectly juicy chicken tender!
When everything is ready, just pile up the zoodles on the plate, top with some marinara sauce, then a couple of chicken strips, and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Confession: wish I had fresh basil on hand to sprinkle over the top…if you do, then go ahead and splurge.
P.S: Note that this meal had no added oil or salt. I love using herbs and seasonings in place of salt and that parmesan helps too. Promise you won’t miss it! This is a low carb meal so adding some whole wheat pasta noodles to these zoodles can add a good source of fuel for your body.
And here’s the final dish! In all it’s zoodle glory. I, as always, enjoyed every bite. Here’s to taking care of our hearts next month and every month after that.
· ¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs
· 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
· ½ teaspoon ground pepper
· Spray oil
· 1lb chicken cutlets
· ¾ cup low sodium marinara sauce
· ¾ cup low fat mozzarella cheese
· 4 zucchinis
· 2 eggs
· ½ cup whole wheat flour
· I tbsp chopped garlic
· ½ tsp. each dried basil and oregano
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Set up the dredging station. Place flour on one plate, crack eggs in a bowl, and Italian bread crumbs onto a plate.
3. Coat a sheet pan with spray oil.
4. Dredge each chicken cutlet in the flour, followed by eggs, and finally breadcrumbs and place on the sheet pan. Discard the rest of the breadcrumb mixture.
5. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes.
6. While the chicken bakes, spray a nonstick skillet with oil and heat on medium.
7. Add the zoodles, garlic, oregano, and basil and sauté for 5 minutes.
8. Remove the pan from the oven and spread 1 tablespoon of sauce and 1 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese on each chicken cutlet.
9. Place back in the oven and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until sauce is hot and cheese is melted.
10. Place zoodles on plate, topped with 1-2 tbsp of marinara sauce. Top with chicken and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
11. Serve hot and enjoy!
I absolutely love using this recipe for meal prep. Easily double or triple it and have enough for the next few days. Remember that you don’t have to reach for quick, high calorie foods when you’re hungry when you stay stocked up on nutritious meal options.
This is also a great make ahead recipe. Dredge the chicken, prep the zoodles, and place in oven whenever you’re ready for a delicious meal!
Christina Saliba, MS, RD, LD
Christina is a guest writer who works for Unidine at PRMC in Andrews, Texas. She created this recipe for our customers to highlight this month during Heart Health Month.
We will be partnering with PRMC more, including a complimentary shopping trip later this month! Stay tuned for more details.