Did you know that chicken is now the most popular animal protein served at the American table and that beef is no longer king?

The chicken revolution is not limited to the USA. According to a 2014 report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), chicken is projected to become the most popular meat in the world.

Raising beef uses ten times more resources than poultry resulting in a substantial cost advantage for chicken. When combined with its mild taste and consistent texture, chicken is a winner in the animal protein arena. Keep in mind that shifting to a plant-based diet does the most good for your health, pocket and the planet!

All chicken is not equal. Even though I choose a mostly plant-based diet, when family or guests request poultry, I buy organic.

Organic poultry must be fed an organic diet (grown without pesticides), receive no antibiotics and be given access to the outdoors. In my opinion, organic poultry has a more natural flavor because of its more wholesome diet, better life and safer handling practices.

In contrast, conventional (non-organic) chicken that is labeled natural is often plumped up with injections of salt water, flavor, texture-enhancing chemicals and even byproducts of other animals during processing. The term natural doesn’t mean much. When paying by the pound, you may be spending 30 percent of the chicken’s total weight on an injected saline cocktail.

According to my book, Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy, it’s best to buy a whole organic chicken because it’s less processed and less expensive than buying parts. However, if you’re just preparing dinner for one or two, chicken breasts may be more practical. The breast meat (white meat) without skin also has the least amount of fat and calories and is known as the athlete’s choice for lean animal protein.

If you are bored with grilled or sautéed chicken breasts, why not pound, stuff and roll the breasts to create variation in texture and flavor? This recipe stuffed with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs makes for an easy and interesting weeknight meal. Serve it with steamed seasonal vegetables and a whole grain like brown rice, faro or barley. You can freeze the leftovers.

stuffed chicken breasts

Layne’s Parmesan Herbed Stuffed Chicken Breasts

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • Juice (about 1/4 cup) from 1 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 8 wooden toothpicks

Soak toothpicks in water and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line a large baking dish with foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Place each chicken breast in the center of a plastic food storage bag or between 2 large sheets of waxed paper. Pound out the chicken from the center – outward using a heavy-bottomed skillet or mallet. Place the breasts on the baking sheet. Season both sides with oregano, lemon juice and pepper. Evenly drizzle the olive oil on the top. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Evenly divide the Parmesan-parsley mixture and place on top of each pounded breast.

Roll up the breasts tightly and secure each with two toothpicks.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes – until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Serves 4 to 6.

Nutrition Facts per serving based on 6 servings (140 grams): 168 calories, 5.14 grams fat, 142 mg sodium, 2 grams carbohydrate, 27 grams protein.

For more nutritious and delicious recipes with a practical approach to a healthy and wholesome diet, pick up a copy of my award-winning diet lifestyle and cookbook: Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy.

Bon Appetit!

Thank you to Brittany Modell (RD2B) for testing this recipe.