lunchbox life: chicken, black bean, and brussels sprouts nachos

image1(13)Healthy nachos…oxymoron?

Not necessarily. I had two agendas with this week’s lunches: consume more protein and not in a boring way (chicken breast and broccoli). This is what I came up with, and after having it today, I’m digging it.

So, here’s the deal: everyone knows that when you go on vacation, you eat rich food, and not in small quantities. Then you return to the real world and feel like you need to detox. For me, this usually means bumping up lean protein and leafy greens, so I went looking in my refrigerator for inspiration. I had six boneless skinless chicken thighs and half of a package of brussels sprouts. I also had some enchilada sauce in my pantry. Enchiladas? Tacos? I’ve had several variations of those before. What about nachos? No, nachos are too unhealthy, I thought.

And then I decided to make it work. I went to the store, picked out some cilantro, black beans, and organic tortilla chips, and made a game plan. While the chicken thighs and enchilada sauce simmered away in the slow cooker, I devised a plan to count out an actual serving size of chips (for this package, it was 14 chips) for each day, then place the other ingredients in a separate container to mix together just before eating. The stewed chicken has tons of flavor from the enchilada sauce, and this and the cilantro flavor the other ingredients. You can use the chip to dip the chicken mixture, break up the chips and toss them in with the other ingredients, or heat the ingredients over the chips on a plate.

I know what you’re thinking–where’s the cheese?

You could certainly add some cheese here, but you really don’t need it. Again, my goal for the week was to reset my system from overindulging last week, so I thought I’d leave the cheese out…this one time.

Chicken, Black Bean, and Brussels Sprouts Nachos

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 19 oz. can enchilada sauce

1/2 lb. brussels sprouts

1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

56 corn tortilla chips, separated out into groups of 14

Cook the chicken thighs and enchilada sauce in a slow cooker for 4 hours on high (or you could bake them and shred the chicken). Thinly slice the brussels sprouts, disposing of the woodsy stems. In five bowls, set up your four quadrants: chicken, brussels, black beans, and cilantro. Pair each bowl with one set of chips.

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