Baked Pesto Chicken.

Thinly sliced chicken breasts are baked with my lightened-up pesto, then topped with mozzarella cheese! Few ingredients, lots of flavor.

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Last week I shared with you my homemade lightened-up, nut-free basil pesto. One of our favorite ways to use it is on top of chicken! Chicken breast alone doesn’t have much flavor, but the pesto takes care of that little problem. Top it with mozzarella or parmesan cheese and you have a delicious (and easy!) weeknight dinner. If your pesto is already made, you can certainly have this on the table within 30 minutes.

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I served this with a kale chickpea salad (recipe coming soon!), but it is great with just about anything you can think of: pasta, roasted veggies, a big green salad, couscous–whatever you’ve got, it’ll probably work! Leftovers can be reheated as-is, transformed into a sandwich, or cut into bite sized pieces and added to a salad. Get creative!

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This is arguably one of my husband’s favorite dishes, and I love it because it’s so simple to prepare! The lightened-up pesto tricks you into feeling like you’re really indulging, but you’re really not. It clocks in at just under 160 calories, only 6 grams of fat, and a whopping 27 grams of protein!

Baked Pesto Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 thinly sliced chicken breasts, about 1 lb
  • 4 tsp lighter basil pesto
  • 4 tbsp reduced fat mozzarella cheese (parmesan could work well too)
  • salt and pepper

1). Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides before placing them in the baking dish.

2). Carefully spread about a teaspoon of the basil pesto on each chicken breast. Top with 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

Servings: 4. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 159 Fat: 6g Carbs: 1g Protein: 27g Points+: 4

Recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

Lightened-up Homemade Basil Pesto (Nut-Free!)

 All the bright, bold flavors of traditional pesto, but without all the calories! This basil pesto is easy, quick, and versatile.

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Pesto.
So vibrantly green. Slightly salty. Fragrant. Rich. It’s great on sandwiches (like this pesto chicken panini), on pasta, on baked chicken, or even mixed in to rice! That last one is a brand new discovery that I am really excited about. Brown rice alone is bland, but mix in a little pesto and ta-da! Bursting with flavor!

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3 summers ago I planted my first basil plant and successfully kept it alive for several months. This year I decided to plant 2 basil plants, knowing plenty of homemade pesto could be in our future.

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That time is here! My husband and I both love pesto, but the traditional recipes are calorie-laden due to lots of olive oil, nuts, and cheese. So, I went on a hunt for a lighter pesto. Same great flavors, just a little healthier! The biggest difference between this recipe and most others is the absence of pine nuts. Typically either pine nuts or walnuts are used, but not here! Don’t worry, you won’t miss them.

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From start to finish, this whole process probably takes less than 5 minutes (thanks food processor!). Add the basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to your food processor and then slowly add in your olive oil. If I have enough basil in my garden, I’ll double the recipe to have on hand or freeze for use during the winter months.

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Lightened-Up Homemade Basil Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 5 tbsp EVOO
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1). Place the basil leaves, garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper in the food processor. Process until smooth. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the 5 tablespoons of olive oil until smooth. Store in a sealed container in the fridge or freeze for future use.

Servings: 10 servings of 1 tbsp each. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 86 Carbs: .8g Fat: 8.3g Protein: 2.3g Fiber: 0.3g Points+:2 
Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/07/skinny-basil-pesto.html