Cashew-Pecan Crusted Chicken

I know I left you with a teaser last week, letting you know that I’ve been plotting, (buahahaha!) working on my devilish laugh, (it’s coming along nicely) and preparing for some new additions to my blog.  I guess the laugh part didn’t make it to last week’s post – but that’s of relatively low importance anyway.

What is important is how much you’re going to love this crusted chicken.  It’s so important that you should probably stop all plans to make whatever you were making for dinner and make this instead.  Ya hear?  The pecan-cashew-cracker crust made with a special blend of seasonings and the kick-glass-bottled marinade are just too delicious.  They combine to make really moist inside with a crunchy (slightly sweet and salty) outside.  And I’m really pretty pleased with the way it fits into my diet.  Lots of protein, some healthy fats, and a few healthy carbs.  Besides, it’s quick and easy, and you probably already have all the ingredients already.  So why not?

Alright, now.  Rather than let you go another day in the dark, I’ll let you in on my plans.  Unless, of course, you’re currently on the South Pole… then I’m afraid it will be dark all day for the rest of your winter.  Also, don’t be in the South Pole.  Come to my house.  There’s food and warmth here.

Well, either way, the special additions I am working on have to do with the self-training plan I have been developing for myself.  My goal for the last year or so has been to develop more strength and a more toned, defined physique.  You know – put that personal training background to use. 

Mostly, it was just to see if I could find the willpower to go with the knowledge, but I figured the muscle tone would be a bonus.  It ended up being largely a secondary priority for the last year, behind writing this blog, a new job as the activities director at LA Fitness, and eating the nummy baked goods I made for my blog.  (Seriously though, I could go crazy with this banana bread, or these almond-apricot cakelets!)

Finally, I’m pushing the plan up the cue like it was Phineas and Ferb on Netflix, and I’m making it a priority.  My deadline is in October, and I’m taking this blog along for the journey.  Don’t worry, there’s no Mount Doom at the end.  It can only get better from here. 

I think that’s all you’ll get from me at the moment, aside from the fact that this Cashew-Pecan Crusted Chicken, along with the delicious Super Sweet Potatoes (soon to follow) fits in with my meal plan nicely (also soon to follow).  I’m going to be including the basic nutritional deets for your own planning pleasure.  Do enjoy!

Cashew-Pecan Crusted Chicken

About 2 lb. chicken breasts cutlets (can be substituted for abominable snowman if living in the SP)

Marinade:

1/3 c. Greek yogurt

2 T. lemon juice

½ c. almond milk

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. each: ground black pepper, garlic, onion powder

Crust:

1 c. raw pecan halves

1 c. whole raw cashews

About 14 plain Triscuit Original Thin Crisps (or another 100% whole grain gluten-free cracker)

½ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. chili powder

1 ½ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. dried rosemary

For dipping: ½ c. agave syrup (I prefer the 5-calorie agave-stevia blends when I can find them)

4 – 24 hours ahead of time, put the chicken cutlets in a sealable freezer bag with all the marinade ingredients.  Seal tightly and massage the ingredients together before placing in a bowl in the refrigerator.

Just before you’re ready to bread the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Make the crust by crushing the pecans, cashews, and crackers (and following seasonings) in a food processor to make a coarse crumb.  Transfer the mixture to a wide rimmed bowl. 

Fill a small bowl with ½ c. agave and place the bowl with the chicken cutlets next to it.

Dip the chicken in the agave and then in the crust mixture to coat, and transfer to a cooking-sprayed baking pan (I often like to put aluminum foil down first to cut down on mess on weeknights.)  Leave a little space in between each piece.

Bake the chicken 15 minutes, or until a test piece (cut open to check) is cooked all the way through.

If you want to freeze the chicken for easy future meals, allow them to cool for up to 20 minutes at room temperature before transferring to a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for a month or two.  Defrost by placing in the refrigerator overnight or straight in the microwave for eating right away.

Makes about ten 3-oz servings. 

Nutritional facts per serving:  244 calories; 16g carbs; 13g fat; 24g protein