Weekday lunches can often be a bit of a challenge sometimes, but this recipe has become my go to for a quick, yet delicious concoction for a box lunch. It’s so simple that I often whip it up Monday morning before work if I ran out of time on Sunday. The ingredients fall into an extremely short list of chicken breasts (protein), sweet potatoes (carbs), broccoli (vegetables).
Eat to perform has become my motto as of late. While I had been skipping out on eating a lot of the carbs, I’ve slowly started adding the ‘healthy’ ones back in and its helping my performance in the gym. For a time, carbohydrates have been demonized, but they’re a great source of energy and an integral part of any nutrition plan that’s aimed at keeping performance at peak (or improving it). I’m also learning that starches are your best friend. Rice, potatoes, ripe bananas and oats are additions that I’ve added back in and making sure that I eat plenty of these in the evening to replenish muscle glycogen.
While I’m still committed to eating roughly 80% paleo, I will do my best to post recipes that stick with the paleo concept. For instance, this baked chicken, there really is nothing in this recipe that is not paleo and even the sweet potato is an allowed carbohydrate.
Now when it comes to the broccoli, I’m a fan of steaming them instead of boiling. For some reason they just don’t seem to get overcooked and still retain their texture versus becoming mushy.
And for me, baked chicken has a tendency to become dry in the oven and after searching for ideas in how best to cook them, I found that using parchment paper seems to work best. It’s a technique called ‘dry-poaching,’ and is incredibly simple.
So now that everything is cooked and ready to go, I just portion them out into separate containers for the week and lunch is served!
- 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 5 broccoli crowns
- 5 medium sweet potatoes
- 5 tablespoons grass-fed butter
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wrap sweet potatoes individually using aluminum foil, place on wire rack in preheated oven. Cook for 60 to 90 minutes depending on size.
- Place ¾ to 1 inch of water in a saucepan with a steamer and bring to a boil. (Note that is you don't have a steamer, you can simply put the broccoli directly into an inch of boiling water.) Add the broccoli to the steamer and cover; reduce heat to medium and let cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on size.
- Using a 13x9" baking dish, rub the pan and one side of the parchment paper with butter or olive oil; this prevents the chicken from sticking.
- Pat the chicken dry and rub with a little butter or olive oil, if desired. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any other favorite seasonings.
- Transfer to the baking dish: Place the chicken breasts in the baking dish, spaced slightly apart. You can also tuck herbs or lemon wedges around the chicken for extra flavor.
- Cover with the parchment: Lay the parchment, butter-side down, over the chicken. Tuck the edges into the pan and press the parchment down so that it's snug around the chicken. The chicken breasts should be completely covered with the parchment.
- Transfer the chicken to the oven until the chicken is completely opaque all the way through and registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Start checking after 20 minutes; total cooking time is usually 30 to 40 minutes, depending on size.
- Serve or place in separate containers, topping each sweet potato with a tablespoon of butter. Salt sweet potatoes and broccoli to taste.