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Julie Kelly's Blog

Some of you are scrambling to get into bathing suit and shorts-shape before Spring Break…so you’re probably really hungry right now.

The mistake many people make in attempting to lose weight is eliminating satiating food from our diet. We say to ourselves, “no meat, no carbs, no dairy. No wine (ok, I try that too, but to no avail).” But this approach is destined to fail for one main reason: we are starving.

Eating well – especially when we’re trying to drop a few pounds – must include healthy fats and proteins in order to feel full. Carbs are also important to eat in limited quantities since that’s where we derive long-term energy. If you are coupling weight loss with exercise, you must eat carbs.

This week’s recipe is a delicious compound salad perfect for family dinner or just to keep in the refrigerator to serve for lunch over a few days. It contains good fats in the form of eggs, olives and olive oil, protein like chicken and carbs in the form of garbanzo beans (they’re a protein, too).

Two techniques this week: One is pan-searing a chicken breast and the other is preparing a quick vinaigrette. Avoiding pre-made creamy salad dressings is a good idea if possible; once you test out a few easy vinaigrettes, you’ll want homemade all the time. The ratio for vinaigrette is one part acid (vinegar or olive juice in this recipe) and three parts oil such as olive or grapeseed. You can add a touch of Dijon mustard to help emulsify the dressing then season with salt and pepper.

Pan-searing chicken breasts is an extremely useful technique to learn and apply to many recipes. The first step is to use a meat tenderizer or even rolling pin to even out the chicken breast. This cut of chicken is notoriously uneven and leads to uneven cooking (usually overcooked). By taking a moment to pound down the breast until it’s uniform in thickness is key.

Heat your pan over medium high heat and add the cooking oil (either olive or grapeseed). Once the oil is thinned out, it’s hot enough. Add the chicken breasts and DO NOT MOVE them around the pan. Those of you who’ve taken my class probably hear this in your sleep. The chicken is not a newborn baby. You don’t need to stare at it. You don’t need to touch it to make sure it’s still breathing. Leave it alone for at least 3 minutes to get a good sear, check the side to see if the breast is turning white towards the middle then flip and repeat.

This is a good basic salad, but tweak to your preference. I really like to place the heated chicken and eggs over the chilled ingredients for both a crisp and warm bite.

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"Julie, I really enjoyed your class and took way more away than I ever thought I would. I never in a million years thought a cooking class would make me excited to try new things!! So my hat's off to you. You are a great teacher and the recipes are so good!" 

 

Susie C., Orland Park