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Nice and Easy Does It

January 12, 2010

By Brianne Harrison

After a full day of work and an hour at the gym, what I want for dinner is something fast, healthy, and satisfying. With that in mind, I opened the fridge last night and contemplated my options. The pork chops weren’t completely thawed yet, so I went to plan b: leftover roast chicken.

Protein decided, I reached for one of my favorite, most versatile pantry staples: whole-wheat pasta. A few leaves of fresh spinach, a lemon, and some capers rounded out the dish, which was done in less than 15 minutes with little fuss and very little mess to clean up. Want to try it out? Here’s the recipe:

Weeknight Pasta
Serves 2

1 C cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 C fresh spinach (or ¼ cup cooked or frozen. If frozen, thaw before cooking).
Juice of ½ lemon
1 to 1 ½ tsp capers
½ lb whole wheat pasta of your choice (I used regular spaghetti)
salt

Boil pasta according to package instructions and drain.

While pasta is boiling, add about 1 tsp olive oil to a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the olive oil is warm, add the spinach and chicken and sauté for about 2 min, until spinach is wilted and chicken warmed through.

Add the lemon juice and capers to the spinach and chicken. Saute for another 30 seconds or so. Taste, and add a bit of salt if the dish needs seasoning (it might not, since capers tend to be a bit salty). Keeping the skillet over medium heat, add the drained pasta and toss over heat for another 30 seconds.

Weeknight pasta with chicken? Done.

Healthy Roundup: Lean meat? Check. Whole grains? Check. Leafy green? Check.
Plus: Capers contain Quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid which may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Spinach is high in vitamins A (which is an antioxidant that can help protect your heart) and K (which helps prevent osteoporosis), as well as manganese and folate, while remaining low in calories. Spinach also has at least 13 different flavonoid compounds that function as antioxidants and have cancer-fighting properties. Olive oil can help protect you against heart disease and certain cancers. Lemons, naturally, are high in vitamin C, an immune system booster—not a bad thing to have during flu season!

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