This might be my favorite pasta dish to date. Hell, it might actually be my favorite main dish to date. (It’s seriously that good, guys.) As I mentioned in my Pad Thai recipe, I’ve been trying to come up with a healthier version of Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo for a VERY long time, and last night’s little kitchen escapade resulted in something that was finally blog-worthy. It was MORE than blog-worthy, and I’m damn proud of this one.
I’ve professed my love for Italian food before, and it’s definitely my favorite cuisine, but the heavier cream sauces have never settled well with me. My first job in high school was waiting tables at a local family-owned Italian restaurant, and any time I tried to eat anything with tons of cream/dairy, I’d end up curled into a ball in one of the booths with the absolute worst stomach pains. This dish had none of those after-effects, probably because I skipped on the heavy cream and left out the butter. Let me tell ya’ — the flavor was not any less amazing without these ingredients.
Not only is the flavor fan-freaking-tastic, but so is the proportion of macronutrients. I’ve referred to the 40/40/20 ratio of protein:carbs:fat before, and this dish is 42% carbs, 18% fat, and 39% protein. Plus, it’s under 500 calories. BOOM. Full of flavor definitely doesn’t have to mean full of calories, carbs, and crap!
Nutritional Overview (for 1/2 of recipe):
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 3oz. Tinkyada Brown Rice Fettucini Style Noodles (found at HEB, Whole Foods, etc.)
- 12oz. sliced chicken breast
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
- 2 tbsp fat-free Italian dressing (I used Kraft)
- 2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/3c sliced mushrooms
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced shallot
- 1/3c Cream of Chicken condensed soup (I used Pacific Natural Foods: found at HEB, Whole Foods, etc.)
- 1/3c fat-free Greek Yogurt (I used Fage)
- 1/3c reduced fat Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- Low-sodium Lawry’s seasoning salt, to taste (I used about 1.5 tsp)
- Crushed black pepper, to taste (I used about 1.5 tsp)
- Place your sliced chicken in a Ziploc. Add the Italian dressing, 1 tsp of red pepper, and basil to the bag and shake to coat chicken. Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (up to 8 hours)
- Cook your pasta noodles in a pot of boiling water until al dente (~10min.)
- Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat (I set mine to 7). Add the contents of your Ziploc bag (chicken and marinade) to the skillet and cook until chicken is done
- Add your mushrooms and decrease heat to low (2-3)
- As your noodles and chicken are cooking, heat the olive oil in a separate skillet over medium-high heat (6-7ish). Add the garlic and shallots. Cook until garlic is lightly brown (not burnt) and shallots are tender
- Add the cream of chicken soup and Greek yogurt. Stir well with a whisk to combine
- Add the Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp red pepper, almond milk, salt, and pepper and stir with your whisk until the sauce is evenly liquified
- Drain your noodles with a colander, then return to your pot. Add the chicken and your sauce. Stir several times to distribute the chicken and sauce evenly, then split into two bowls
- OPTIONAL: Top with fresh parsley. Not necessary, but it adds to the fancy factor.
Say “Screw You” to Your Scale
Last weekend, I went totally off course with my diet and exercise regimen. Well, scratch that — I wouldn’t say I was “off course” because I planned to take a little break from the gym and indulge in a few cocktails and restaurant fare, but it was 3 days completely out of my normal routine. My best friend and old college roommate came to visit from Friday-Sunday, and we had a weekend full of visiting friends, eating yummy food, and having good old-fashioned fun. I didn’t stress about it beforehand like I did with SXSW (win!), and I didn’t go way overboard to the point where I felt guilty about what I ate or drank.
I was pretty pumped about how healthily I was handling this little “health-nut hiatus” from a mental perspective. We even skipped the Saturday morning boot camp — something that I haven’t missed in MONTHS — and I wasn’t freaking out about it. All good news. By Sunday, I was excited to get back to my normal eating habits and exercise regimen, and I even did meal prep for a few friends again. By the time Monday morning rolled around, I got up early to lift before work (I’ve moved my hour-long weight session to mornings, for the most part) and hopped on the scale.
That damned thing told me I’d gained 5.5 pounds in 6 days. [Womp womp.]
For about 2 minutes, I was pissed off at myself. I started thinking about the martinis, the Tiff’s Treat cookies, and the fancy food I’d eaten over the weekend and began to regret the less-healthful choices in food that I’d made. I was telling myself that I shouldn’t have missed my Saturday workout (ONE workout) and that I’d essentially undone a month’s worth of work within one weekend. I started questioning my dedication to my health, and then… I stopped being crazy.
I realized how silly I sounded and told myself that if my pants still fit (which they did), the scale could go screw itself. I had a great weekend, and the numbers from that stupid little thing don’t have any connection to what I actually amount to. What matters is that I got up on Monday morning, ate a healthy breakfast, and got right back into the swing of things. I meant to take a break this weekend, and breaks are okay (actually, I think they’re pretty necessary).
Coincidentally, right after my battle with the scale, I came across this AMAZING article about weight fluctuation and what your weight (as recorded by the scale) actually means. The key takeaways: weight fluctuates due to glycogen stores, bloating, water retention/depletion from sodium intake, and/or dehydration. The number that you see one day might be completely different than the next. In my case, I stepped on the scale this morning and was right back to my pre-weekend weight. Just like that, in 48 hours, I was back down 5.5lbs. My clothes still felt the exact same as they did on Monday morning (and the week before).
The moral of this story is your scale is not the only true source of information on what your “weight” is or should be. Everything fluctuates. My favorite indicator of how I’m doing with nutrition and exercise is how my clothes fit. (Progress pictures come in at a close second.) The scale is definitely a benchmark, but anything less than 5-7 pounds isn’t something to freak out about. Two other fantastic metrics to track your success on are waist measurements and overall strength. If you’re losing inches and getting stronger, you’re probably on the right track. This handy little chart from the same article referenced above is SUPER helpful when trying to interpret what your weight, waist measurement, and strength actually means to your fitness progress, AND it has recommendations on what to do based on all of the key factors:
All that being said, don’t use the scale as your only indicator of how you’re doing with your weight loss/fitness goals. It ain’t always right, and it’ll probably change it’s tune tomorrow.