Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chicken Souvlaki and how essential protein and carbs are


Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.  Protein is also essential for your muscles to help rebuild themselves and keep from hurting and cramping after a good workout.  Oh, and water.  Water is important for that as well.  And stretching.  Can’t forget that. 

Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a "macronutrient," meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. Vitamins and minerals, which are needed in only small quantities, are called "micronutrients." But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply.

But it is also important to have enough carbohydrates in with your protein.  I’ve learned balancing both is essential to not only to keeping your muscles strong, but also to help lose weight. 

Carbohydrates provide fuel for your body in the form of glucose or sugar. There are two types of carbohydrates -- simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, such as the ones found in candy, fruits and baked goods. Complex carbohydrates are starches found in beans, nuts, vegetables and whole grains.  You generally want to keep away from the simple carbs, but fresh fruits are simple carbs.  However, they contain vitamins and fiber too.  So sometimes it’s ok to have those simple carbs. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on giving up dessert anytime soon.  But I know that one cookie is enough, or half a slice compared to what everyone else is getting is ok.  It’s ok to have a little bit b/c in all honesty, more than that is just indulging myself a bit too much.  I don’t need to keep having more and more to remember that feeling of bliss on the first bite.  B/c really, is the second bite ever as good as the first?

I’ve become somewhat of a chicken fiend lately.  My ideal dinner (prior to a workout) is a grilled or broiled chicken breast, seasoned with some dried herbs and pepper, with a small side of brown rice and some roasted or steamed green veggies.  If I am eating later, after a workout, I usually nix the rice. 

So back to the chicken. It can get boring after a while.  Sure there are tons of other ways to get protein.  Eggs, nuts, tofu (not a big fan of that stuff, sorry!), soy, etc, etc, etc…

So b/c it can get boring and I still crave it a lot, we have to cook it differently, mostly because my family cannot stand having it over and over again…  haha.

This is one of my favorite chicken dishes, the simplicity of it is baffling considering how delicious it is. 


Chicken and rice is so common a dish…  but not this way. 

Souvlaki (or shish-ka-bob or brochette) is delicious, but a bit time consuming.  And easy.

Depending on how much you want, cut up the raw chicken breast into chunks.  Put them in a large bowl pour a bottle of a sweet red wine into the bowl, covering a quarter of the chicken.  We use a Greek wine called Mavrodaphne.  Then I add olive oil, lemon juice from 1-2 lemons (depending on how much chicken you have in the bowl), dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, black pepper, garlic powder and sea salt (not too much sea salt). 

Let it sit for a couple of hours, at least.  The longer you let it sit, the stronger the wine flavor will be.  I don’t mind it too much, but it can make the chicken taste dramatically different. 

Skewer the chicken chunks with different raw veggies.  Mom only likes onion, so mostly we do that, but I like to add red peppers and tomatoes too.  Alternate them of course, and keep it to four pieces of meat per skewer. 


Grill or broil them until they are completely done.  This will take different times for different sizes…  But if you are unsure, keep a meat thermometer with you to check the temp on the thicker pieces. 


The rice. So make rice like normal.  That’s the easy boring part.  But how we really love our rice is with sautéed onion. 

Chop an onion (or more, if you’re feeding a crowd) and sauté them with butter in a pan until they are browned. 


Then toss them into the cooked rice and mix as evenly as you can.  DSCF1969

And you have deliciousness.  If you are grilling, get some nice fresh corn on the cob and coat them with olive oil and sprinkle pepper and garlic powder around them. 


Grill them until you can see the kernels separate a bit and the outside is charred and yummy. 


So this is an especially yummy dinner for a nice spring day.  It’s about time spring got here to enjoy it!!!!


Ivy said...

I love making chicken souvlakia with vegetables. I make a different marinade but any kind of marinade makes the meat very tender and succulent.

AJ said...

Chicken Souvlaki sounds delicious and will try it this evening. We Italians do the same thing to our rice so of course it will accompany the chicken. Thanks a bunch from a person who does not enjoy much chicken but is looking forward to your recipe.

NikiTheo said...

You'll have to let me know how it is!!!

susan said...

love chicken cooked this way!