There are some things I really love about where we live, and one of them is that there's a Lucky Super Market just a few blocks away. When it's a gorgeous day, we often walk as a family to the store to our shopping together, and with weather like we had this last weekend, it as the perfect time! I needed to pick up a few things because I had an idea for turning one of our favorite junk foods into a more heart healthy version, and tailgating in honor of the #TSM350 race up in Sonoma seemed like the perfect excuse! You can see our whole shopping excursion album here on G+.
One not-so-good snack that I love is jalapeno poppers. Deep fried cream cheese with the spicy kick of a pepper? What's not to love? Besides all that fat and calories, of course. We've been doing a lot of experimenting lately, in our efforts to eat healthier, and I really loved the idea of making these into something that wasn't quite so junky.
Rather than deny myself the deliciousness, I just made a few changes, and turned them into Grilled Chicken Jalapeno Poppers instead! Yum. Our version takes them from the 230 calorie per serving frozen ones, to about 175 calories (per 3 poppers). And since we added chicken instead of just cheese, so they could even be an entree, since the protein is there!
When you're choosing jalapenos for this, you'll want to pick the biggest ones you can, to really get the best bites (or should I say “pop”?) out of it.
The rest of the shopping list is pretty straightforward; one thing is to pick up neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese; it has about 30% fewer calories, and tastes pretty much the same. It takes incredibly little sacrifice to replace that ingredient without really sacrificing anything! I do not, however, recommend using reduced fat shredded cheese. It just doesn't melt as well as the regular stuff. But with the other calories we're savings, it's pretty much a wash in the end.
What you need:
- 10 jalapeno peppers, sliced lenghtwise, seeds and pith (the white stuff) scraped out
- Disposable gloves (I alwayse wear gloves when working with peppers! Have you ever wiped your eye after cutting jalapenos?)
- 1-1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 8 oz. neufchatel cheese
- 2/3 c. shredded cheese (Cheddar, or a mixed variety, your choice!) [ 1/3 for the filling, 1/3 for sprinkling on top]
- Mexican Seasoning
- Salt & Pepper
Season and cook the whole chicken breasts. We grilled them because we always grill whenever we can, and they're more delicious that way! Boiling works too, as does baking. We just used a little salt and pepper on our breasts before cooking.
While still warm, shred the chicken.
I'm hoping you've seen the Pinterest sensation that is the “Kitchen Aid chicken trick,” but in case you haven't, allow me to show you!
It totally works. That's about 30-40 seconds on medium speed. (And it's LIFECHANGING!)
So, shred your chicken. Leave it a little chunkier than you might think, because it'll shred more in the next step:
Add the Mexican seasoning and the cheeses, and turn the mixer back on. You want to be careful here, because it can turn into chicken paste pretty quickly if you let it!
Now your filling is ready to go into your peppers! I find using my gloved hands is the easiest, most efficient way to get this done… Just put a pinchful or so and pack it down. You can mound it up a little above the pepper's edges if you want, that's fine.
Now, if you're going somewhere with these babies, you can stop here. Take your shredded cheese with you, and top them right before you put them on the grill… makes the whole thing less messy and SUPER easy to transport!
Once you're near the grill, it's easy to sprinkle a little cheese on top and put them on a hot grill for 6-7 minutes.
The outsides of the peppers get charred, but that's part of what makes them DELICIOUS!
So next time you're craving these from your local quick service restaurant, you can throw these together instead!