If you listen to any Hollywood “body transformation” stories, one common theme you’ll hear is people being tired of eating “boiled chicken breast”. The thing about chicken breast is that it’s very low fat and has no carbs in it, so it’s almost all protein. The problem is that it doesn’t have much flavor has a tendency to dry out easily. Even if you’re on a relatively “low” protein diet for a fitness person (0.82 – 1g per pound of bodyweight, at 175 pounds, you’re still eating between 150 to 165 grams of protein daily.
That’s a lot of protein, and chicken breast is one of the easiest ways to get that protein, even if it’s not the most fun. This particular recipe makes boiled chicken delicious, moist, and easy to eat. I first learned about it in this particular form Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast, although the basic concept is quite common. Basically you’re making crockpot chicken breast, and then shredding it.
- 2 – 4 pounds chicken breast (if you use more, you’ll probably need more of the other ingredients)
- One jar of salsa (I usually use Trader Joes green tomatillo salsa, but feel free to experiment)
- Juice of 1-2 limes (if you want to up the ante, add the zest one of them)
- 1-8 garlic cloves
- Chili powder to taste (I usually do 2 tablespoons; Jack’s original recipe uses “taco seasoning”) (see instructions below for an easier method than making your own chili powder)
- Salt and Pepper to taste (I usually don’t use salt here, and add it to whatever I use the chicken with)
Chili powder the easy way
I used to make my own chili powder Altona Brown style. Now I just toss the component’s into the crockpot
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.
- As a bonus toss in some dried chile’s like Ancho and guajillo. (I do 2 of each)
- Optional: cayenne pepper or Chipotle
- Turn the crockpot on high.
- Dump the jar of salsa, lime juice, garlic cloves, and chili powder into a large crockpot. Stir together.
- Optional: Wait about 5-10 minutes until the mixture is hot
- Place your chicken breasts in the crockpot, and make sure they are coated with the mixture. One easy way to do this is to put them in upside down, and then flip them over.
- Cover with lid (very important; crockpots don’t work right if you forget this step)
- Wait 4 hours. Remove Lid.
- Remove the chicken from the crockpot and shred with two forks.
- Dump the rest of the liquid mixture on top of the chicken and mix until even.
- Done. Use as is or refrigerate for future use.
So what are the macros on this thing?
95% of the calories come from the chicken breast, so I completely ignore the calories from the salsa. A jar of Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde has about 110 calories in it, and you’re spreading it out over 3-4 pounds of chicken, but if you really want to track every calorie, knock yourself out. To figure out the calories
- Weigh the raw chicken. Let’s say it’s 1560 grams.
- Once the chicken is cooked, and you’ve added the liquid back in, weigh it again. Let’s says it’s 1740 grams.
- Divide the raw weight by the cooked weight, and you’ll get a decimal. In our case 1560/1740 = .8965 or round it to .9.
- WRITE DOWN THAT NUMBER!
- Now let’s say you want to use 400 grams of chicken breast for a recipe, just divide 400 by the number in step 3. 400/.9 = 444 grams. That’s how much of our final prepared product you should weight out to get 400 grams.
- Log 400 grams of raw chicken breast in MyFitnessPal (or whatever you use.)
So how do I use this stuff?
Use it like chicken. Eat it. But in case you’re imagination deprived, here’s a couple quick meals:
Shredded Chicken Bowl
This kind of mimics the main ingredients of a Chipotle Burrito bowl (minus the sour cream and corn). It has a huge amount of protein in it, and when you see this in the bowl, you’re going to think, “there’s no way I’m going to finish all that.” It’s a great first meal, because it’s high in protein with moderate carbs, and relatively low fat. It’ll provide a large proportion of your daily protein intake while leaving you tons of calories for the rest of your day. To reduce the carbs and calories you can leave out either the rice or the tortillas. If you want to up the fat a bit, use tortilla chips instead of tortillas.
Calories and Macros:
- Calories: 937
- Protein: 114 grams
- Carbohydrates 82 grams
- Fat 15 grams
- 400 grams of chicken breast (raw weight using the calculation technique above)
- 3/4 cup of cooked rice
- 1/2 cup of canned black beans
- One ounce of sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 small corn tortillas
Mix the first four ingredients together. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat along with the tortillas.
Shredded Chicken Omelet
This doesn’t really look like an omelet or taste like one, but it has egg in it, so…whatever. This is kind of the opposite of the recipe above. It’s got a relatively small amount of protein, almost no carb, and a decent amount of fat. You could reduce the fat by leaving the butter out, but why would you want to. It’s a great “small meal”. You could also leave out the butter and egg and use the mixture to make chicken and cheese quesadillas.
Calories and Macros:
- Calories: 456
- Protein: 49 grams
- Carbohydrates 2 grams
- Fat 28 grams
- 100 grams of chicken breast (raw weight using the calculation technique above)
- 10 grams of butter (I prefer Kerry Gold)
- 2 slices of reduced fat cheese (44 grams; I use Finlandia variety pack from Costco.)
- 2 eggs
Melt the butter in a pan over medium and cook the chicken until it begins to dry out a bit. (Personally I hit the chicken with some extra chili powder for extra flavor.) Place the 2 slices of cheese on top and wait until it melts. Use a spatula to mix the melted cheese through the chicken. Scramble two eggs in a glass along with some salt to taste. Pour the eggs over the chicken and immediately begin stirring the egg throughout the chicken so that’s it’s evenly dispersed. Turn the heat to low, and once the egg is mostly congealed, form a flat chicken/egg patty and allow to cook for about 30 seconds. Flip and allow the other side to cook to desired doneness. Serve.