Light Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce is a healthy, easy weeknight meal that’s full on flavor and light on calories!
*Post and photos updated from the original published January 9, 2015
Now, I know you might have seen all of my December posts and think that I know nothing about healthy eating.
That’s not totally true.
There was a time in my life when I really cared about the nutritional value of what I was eating.
With time, and in the chaos that is the life of a working mom with a toddler and then a blog and a newborn, I stopped focusing so much on the numbers, and instead I focused more on moderation in general.
Now, I know you might have seen all of my December posts and think that I know nothing about moderation.
That’s also not totally true.
I have no qualms about enjoying truly decadent food. But I generally develop recipes and posts over a longer period of time than you see them pop up over here, and it’s usually pretty easy to find people to share with. I still try to find some balance with my eating habits.
At this point, it’s pretty easy for me to make healthy swaps in recipes without overthinking it too much. I don’t bother figuring out calorie counts and all that — I just make as many healthy substitutions as I can without sacrificing flavor too much.
But since it’s January, and everyone’s set on keeping their New Year’s resolutions for at least a few weeks this time, I thought I would do us both a favor (hey — I just had a baby!) and do a calorie count for some of my recipes that are coming up (provided my own New Year’s resolutions last that long!).
This was one of my favorite recipes that I found in the Better Homes and Gardens New Dieter’s Cookbook, back, you know, when I cared. I found in that cookbook that I didn’t have to work too hard to make healthier substitutions, because most of the recipes were in line with the kind of food I would make anyways.
I didn’t really use the recipe at all, to be honest. But I made the same kind of substitutions that the recipe calls for (swapping flour for panko, cream for milk and broth, etc.), and you would never really know that it’s actually a pretty healthy meal.
I love the combination of crispy chicken and creamy sauce in this recipe! Your calorie count will depend largely on what you serve this chicken with, but here are a few ideas for you:
1 serving (about 6) roasted baby potatoes: 100-125 calories, depending on what you put on them
1 serving pasta: about 300 calories (pretty much across the board, regular or whole wheat)
1 medium baked potato: about 160 calories plus whatever you top it with (how about some of that sauce?!)
The chicken itself comes in at about 213 calories for one breast, with no sauce, and 346 for one breast with 1/4 of the sauce. The chicken breasts I used were pretty large, so you could definitely halve them and you’d still be getting a good serving!
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp seasoning salt
- a pinch of pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- ⅛ cup margarine (or butter)
- ⅛ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup milk (1%)
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- ¼ tsp basil pesto (or swap for fresh basil)
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
- In a shallow, square container combine panko through paprika.
- Dip chicken into crumb mixture, pressing down gently to make sure the crumbs adhere to the chicken. Flip the chicken and coat the other side in the crumbs. Place on baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the chicken (it should be lightly browned on the bottom). Bake another 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F and coating is lightly golden.
- While the chicken is baking, prepare the sauce. In a medium pan, melt the margarine. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in milk, broth, pesto and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened. Remove from heat and serve over chicken.