I’ve been looking into the best ingredients for weight loss. Losing weight is not just about what you eat but, of course, this plays an important role. It’s not just the number of calories, however, as some foods have certain properties that actually help us to lose weight in other ways.
I was excited to find out that chiles are one of the best foods for weight loss. This is great as they are a potent anti-inflammatory too. The same capsaicin that provides the heat, and which has been shown to help arthritis sufferers, can also help with weight loss.
Early studies have shown that just a sprinkle of cayenne pepper can help to burn fat faster and also suppress the appetite for fatty, salty and sweet foods. In this recipe, I’ve suggested mixing the dried chiles into the sun-dried tomato stuffing, but you could sprinkle some dried chiles over everything if you love the burn.
Sun-dried tomatoes are one of those ingredients that I see as almost a cheat. They are so good that they make any meal taste great.
As you might have noticed if you’ve ever left tomatoes out on a hot day, their high water content means they deteriorate rapidly. Drying them removes water, intensifying the savory flavor, not only preserving the flesh, but also the goodness within too.
Sun-dried tomatoes are packed full of nutrients, but perhaps the most significant for our purposes are the antioxidants. Vitamins A and C are particularly prominent. These vitamins help to neutralize free radicals, which cause harm to the body and contribute to diseases like arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
Try to find good quality sun-dried tomatoes that are not swimming in oil. If you have a surplus of tomatoes, they can be dried in the oven. Cut them in half and lay them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with a little salt and ground black pepper and some olive oil and honey to taste. Dry them in an oven set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is ideal for drying them without cooking them. They will take around 4 hours, but it will be worth the wait.
I generally advise people to avoid dairy, as it can be a cause for inflammation but I included a little cheese in this recipe for two reasons.
First, I believe when trying to lose weight, we shouldn’t be starving or torturing ourselves by suddenly cutting out all our favorite foods. In moderation, a little treat can be a good way of sticking to a diet longer, whereas it would take willpower of steel to stick to any diet if we never allowed ourselves an indulgence. The soft cheese adds a creaminess that will help the filling to ooze deliciously out of the chicken breast.
The second reason is, a recent study found that probiotics in cheese can help with inflammation. Mice fed Swiss cheese were found to have a reduction in acute colitis. Now, this is only a preliminary trial on mice, but it was enough of an excuse for me to include a little cheese in this recipe. Make sure it is probiotic, however, if you want to experience the benefits.
As always, leafy greens are fantastically good for us, so I have paired the chicken with some lightly cooked cabbage. Try not to overcook the cabbage as it will lose its flavor and beneficial properties. I suggest just wilting it in a pan, then adding a squeeze of fresh lemon and a little olive oil, salt and black pepper. The cabbage will retain its color, crunch and flavor as well as its goodness. Aside from their anti-inflammatory properties, cabbages are also high in fiber, but low in calories, so they are a great way to bulk up a meal and feel fuller, without taking in too many calories.
The potatoes provide balance to the meal, and carbohydrates, which will make you feel fuller for longer. However, if you are on a low-carb diet, replace the potatoes with more cabbage or other fresh vegetables. This method for cooking cabbage is so delicious, you might not even notice.
Chicken breast is very lean and ideal for weight loss but, because of this, they have a tendency to dry out if you’re not careful. A terrific way to get around this is to poach the chicken breasts. Once they are stuffed, roll them up tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a pan of water, just off the boil. An ideal temperature is slightly less than 200F. This method will cook the chicken breasts through in about 15 minutes, with the low temperature and moist environment keeping them tender and juicy.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1/2 cup probiotic soft cheese
- 1 lemon
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 cabbage, leaves separated and washed
- 1 handful parsley
- Salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Prepare the stuffing and stuff the chicken breasts. They can be stuffed a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator to save time if needed. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a blender and blend until the desired consistency. You can go smooth or keep it chunky if you prefer. Add the chile powder and fold through the soft cheese. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and a little salt if needed, depending on the saltiness of your sun-dried tomatoes. The mixture should be quite firm and dry.
- Place the chicken breast on a chopping board and slice horizontally into the side, creating a cavity. Then stuff making sure not to overfill the chicken breasts.
- Roll the breasts tightly in plastic wrap, use plenty to get a tight roll, making it as evenly sized as possible along its length. Tie the ends with string or rolled up the plastic wrap.
- Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes, add to a pot with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Once they are soft and falling apart slightly remove them from the water.
- You can use the same water to poach the chicken breasts. Try to keep the water at just under boiling point and place the stuffed breasts in the water for 15 minutes.
- Remove them and pierce them to make sure the juices run clear.
- Place a pan on high heat. Add the cabbage leaves and 1/2 cup of water. Place a lid on the pan and let the cabbage wilt for about a minute. Keep checking the cabbage, once it is just softened but retaining its color and crunch, take the pan off the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and black pepper to taste.
- Mix the cooked potatoes with a little olive oil — you could use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes — plus salt, black pepper and chopped parsley.
- Pile all the elements up on your plate and enjoy your guilt-free meal.
Total time: 50 minutes Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
If you want to know what foods will help you shape up and shed inches while providing natural cure to illnesses, then check out the Best Foods That Rapidly Slim & Heal in 7 Days program.