Recently, I set out on a new journey in life to take charge of my overall health and happiness, and there’s no better way to begin than with a diet overhaul. Now, when most people hear the word “healthy” they automatically assume it means depriving yourself of everything you love and replacing it with less-than-delicious alternatives… Not so!! And, with the help from a fabulous trip to Whole Foods Market for ingredients, I’m here to tell you how it can be done!
One of my absolute favorite comfort foods is breaded chicken parmesan with a heaping pile of pasta, but at roughly 700 calories per serving, it doesn’t exactly qualify as a healthy meal. I began by picking up a rotisserie chicken from the Prepared Foods section of the store. This is such a healthy & easy way to replace the breaded chicken! Their rotisserie chickens are so big that you only need to use half of it (deboned and cut into bite-sized pieces), freeing up the other half to use for another meal later!
Next, I grabbed everything I needed to make my own marinara sauce: 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 can of tomato paste, minced garlic, fresh basil, and an onion. If you’ve never made marinara sauce before, don’t fret! If I can do it, you can too… and you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before! Plus, when you make your own, you control exactly what goes in it resulting in a fresh, scrumptious sauce.
Lastly, the noodles… Did you know that one (very small) serving of spaghetti typically contains at least 200 calories? That’s before you ever even add anything to it! Yikes! Want to know a much better, truly delicious, and life-changing alternative?… “Zoodles!” Yep, that’s right. I’ve jumped on the “zoodle” bandwagon and I’m not getting off anytime soon! To replace that pesky high-calorie spaghetti, I grabbed 3 zucchinis (which, by the way, only contain about 33 calories each) and turned those babies into “zoodles” with my handy spiralizer. (If you don’t have one, you can pick one up at Whole Foods too!)
Truly, this chicken zoodle parm would be fabulous and filling just by itself, but I’m a big fan of side salads, so I decided to grab a few things to make one as well. Instead of a high-calorie caesar salad that would typically accompany an Italian dish, I opted for some fresh arugula. If you prefer spinach or a spring mix then that would work wonderfully as well. To top my greens, I also picked up a pint of fresh blueberries, coconut chips for a little crunch instead of croutons, and some strawberry balsamic dressing by Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value brand which only has 20 calories per serving! Amazing! (By the way, they have an incredible selection of low-calorie dressings, so you’ll definitely want to check them out as well!)
Lastly, dessert. The obvious choice for me was a nice little pint of Halo Top mint chip ice cream. At 240 calories for the entire pint, it was a no-brainer! The only thing that was difficult was choosing a flavor! I mean, do you see the incredible selection they have!? Have mercy. Thankfully, I knew this meal would be pretty filling and that I’d probably only be able to eat about a quarter of the pint, or else I might have opted for several pints.After serving this meal to my family, it was a clear home-run. My husband was in love with the way flavor of the rotisserie chicken paired so nicely with the marinara sauce, and my boys just slurped it down as if it were a regular bowl of spaghetti! I was just overjoyed that rather than consuming nearly 700 calories for the main course alone, the entire meal came in at just around 285 calories! That’s roughly 180 calories for a serving of chicken zoodle parm, 45 calories for a serving of salad, and 60 for ¼ of a pint of the ice cream. So, now that I’ve made your mouth water and drop, here’s the recipe for you to complete this healthy recipe swap with a little help from Whole Foods Market too:
Chicken Zoodle Parm
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup diced white onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
28 ounces diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
Fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 ½ tsp salt (add more to taste)
¼ tsp black pepper
⅛ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 large zucchini (spiralized)
½ rotisserie chicken, deboned & cut into bite-sized pieces
Grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- Place olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add onions and saute while stirring occasionally until soft translucent (about 5 minutes).
- Add garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt, pepper, & red pepper, stirring to combine. Allow it all to cook until it reaches a simmer.
- Cover and simmer, reducing heat to medium-low, for 15 minutes – or until the sauce has thickened.
- Season with more salt & pepper to taste.
- Add zucchini noodles and chicken and toss to evenly coat.
- Continuing cooking for 3-5 minutes until the noodles have softened.
- Remove from heat & serve with parmesan cheese on top.