As an avid home cook, I often rely on salt to boost and accentuate the flavors in my food. However, I’ve come to realize as I’ve gotten older that more and more people have to restrict sodium from their diet. More specifically, I was faced with this challenge when I helped care for my brother-in–law when he was suffering from an illness that required him to be on an extremely low sodium diet.
Since he was living with us, I had to create meals the whole family would enjoy. I soon learned that when you remove the salt you have to add something back and create flavor. I created a whole book of recipes that my whole family continues to enjoy. One of my favorites I am sharing with you today: Italian Stuffed Chicken Roulades.
And, here are a few tips I learned along the way to cut the sodium without the flavor. Here’s to healthier living!
- Rely on concentrated flavors — I love to reduce balsamic vinegar to create sauces with bold flavors. Look at salt-free sun-dried tomatoes for savory flavor and dried fruits.
- Preheat the oven — Roasting vegetables helps develop and concentrate flavors. After roasting, drizzle with melted unsalted Challenge Butter, fresh garlic and herbs. This is a great way to get anyone to eat their veggies!
- Herb it up — While there are many salt-free spice blends available, consider just adding dried herb blends. They add a nice punch of flavor! Dried herbs are best during cooking; fresh herbs are great for garnishes. The fragrant aromas add flavor and make food much more inviting!
- Embrace the broth — Poach or braise vegetables or meats in low or no salt broths seasoned with herbs and aromatic vegetables. This will keep food moist and full of flavor.
- Brown it — Take the time to brown meats and vegetables to develop flavor. Also consider cooking meats low and slow. This help flavors to penetrate the meat and boost the taste.
- Flavor from the inside out — Stuff meats full of flavor to create great meals. Low fat Challenge Cream Cheese is a great base for a filling. Just add savory vegetables and herbs, and stuff into chicken, beef or pork.
- Use good quality ingredients — Always use real butter, not margarine to sauté and add flavor. Use Challenge Butter as a base for a sauce to create a flavor packed dish.
- 3 cups mixed vegetables (your favorites such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions, carrots, green beans, zucchini, fennel), diced all the same size
- 1 cup shallots, diced
- ½ cup red bell peppers, diced
- 4 (large) garlic cloves, crushed and divided throughout
- 8 salt-free sun-dried tomatoes packed olive oil or 1/8 cup + 1-2 Tablespoon of the oil from container
- 4 ounces (½ package) Challenge Cream Cheese
- 1½ teaspoons dry Italian herbs
- 3 (6 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally (or you can purchase 6 thin cut breast fillets)
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons Challenge Spreadable Lite Butter flavored with Olive Oil
- ½ cup fresh diced basil leaves, divided
- ¼ cup diced fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a cooking sheet with non-stick foil. Add vegetables to pan and spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Place into oven and roast for 30-40 minutes or until edges of vegetables turn brown.
Let’s get started on the Italian Stuffed Chicken Roulades while the veggies are roasting. Spray a medium sauce pan with an olive oil cooking spray or 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add shallots and peppers over medium high heat and cook until they begin to soften. Add 2 cloves of garlic, sauté for a quick minute. Take pan off of heat, divide shallot mixture into two bowls. One bowl will be for the filling, the other will be reserved for the sauce.
Drain the sundried tomatoes. Add tomatoes to the bowl with shallots and peppers. Stir in cream cheese and Italian herbs.
Using a meat mallet, pound out chicken breasts to an even ¼ inch thickness. Cut breasts in half to create six pieces. If using store bought thin cut chicken, you are good to go! Divide cream cheese mixture lengthwise along the center of the chicken breasts. Roll chicken breasts, securing with a toothpick.
Place chicken roulades in a large non-stick skillet, coated with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil from the sun dried tomato jar. Over medium high heat brown all sides of chicken until they reach a beautiful golden brown. Add the remaining reserved cooked shallots and peppers, chicken broth and balsamic vinegar to the pan. Cover with lid, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. When chicken is done, remove from pan and let rest for 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, reduce sauce by half over medium heat. Mixture should be thick and bubbly when completed.
When veggies are roasted, remove from the oven. Combine the Challenge Spreadable Lite Butter flavored with Olive Oil, and the remaining 2 cloves of garlic in a large mixing bowl. Microwave for 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant. Mix in fresh herbs. Add roasted veggies to bowl. Toss vegetables to coat well.
To serve, cut chicken into ¼ inch slices. Divide the Roasted Vegetables among 6 dinner plates. Top with chicken slices. Drizzle Balsamic Pan Sauce over chicken slices, and sprinkle with fresh basil. Enjoy!
If you have leftovers, consider freezing them in freezer to microwave resealable containers to create your own TV Dinner. Great for when you are on the go!