quick & easy pesto chicken skillet (ketofriendly)

I remember when I first time tried pesto many years ago, I bought small jar in the shop and prepared with fried chicken and pasta. Smelled weird and tasted awful, even my dog didn’t want to try it, even though she loved pasta 😉 It tasted terrible and for the next few years I didn’t eat any more pesto. Until I started working in the restaurant over five years ago and I learned how to make homemade pesto. It was way better that the one I remembered. Simply delicious! Made with pine nuts, fresh basil and garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Just loved it! So if you ever tried store bought pesto, and you didn’t like it, try to make it yourself.

You can use pine nuts, but cashews or sunflower seeds (pine nuts 13g of carbs in 100g, sunflower seeds 20g of carbs, cashews 30g of carbs) will also work great. I used sunflower seeds as pine nuts are pretty expensive, and sunflower seeds work good as well. I use quite a lot of garlic, but the amounts in the recipe are not obligatory, so take it more as a guide. You should get a thick green paste, you can spread nicely over the chicken. Pesto is very universal, you can add it to pasta or rice if use them in your kitchen. You can mix it with fried or oven baked veggies, or spread over the sandwich.

In this recipe, mixed with double cream, gives delicious creamy and aromatic sauce. If you have a food processor or chopper you can prepare pesto in seconds, so preparation of whole dish won’t take longer than 30 minutes. I served it with pan fried courgette and mushrooms – very quick and easy.

Scroll down for more quick & easy chicken skillet recipes.

quick & easy pesto chicken skillet (ketofriendly)

NOTE: my measuring cup is regular 250ml glass

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g chicken thighs
  • 1-2 tbsp clarified butter or coconut oil
  • about 300ml double cream
  • about 2 handfuls of fresh basil
  • about ⅓-½ cup sunflower seeds (but you can also use pine nuts or cashews)
  • parmesan cheese (I used about 1-2 tablespoons of grated parmesan)
  • good pinch of coarse pepper
  • about ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • for decoration: few cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves

DIRECTIONS

Start with pesto. I If you have a food processor or this special chopping container you can connect with blender, just pop in all the ingredients and blend until smooth (sunflower seeds or nuts, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, coarse pepper, olive oil, pinch of salt, 2-3 garlic cloves). Amounts in the recipe are approximate, so if you feel like your pesto needs more pepper, basil or you like it to be more cheesy, adjust the amounts to your taste. I like a lot of garlic, 3 cloves is a lot, so you can start with 1 or 2. As you can see on the photos I had enough of pesto to put on the chicken, plus about 3 tablespoons for later (you can store pesto in the fridge in closed container for about 3 days).

My chopper is broken so what I’ve used was a blender and coffee grinder. I’ve used coffee grinder to blend sunflower seeds, blender to blend olive oil and fresh basil together and garlic press to smash garlic cloves. I have finely grated parmesan, so all I needed to do is to combine all the ingredients together to a paste: grounded sunflower seeds, olive oil and basil paste, garlic, parmesan cheese, coarse pepper and small pinch of salt.

Heat large skillet adding 1-2 tablespoons of clarified butter or coconut oil. Fry chicken thighs on both sides until golden on a quite large heat. And then season with salt on both sides. Add cream and lower the heat, it should only gently simmer. Spread generous amount of pesto on each piece of chicken, also add 2-3 teaspoons to cream sauce. Place couple cherry tomatoes and let it simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes. Place some fresh basil leaves before serving.

Serve with addition of your choice – on my plate courgette fried with mushrooms with some clarified butter, slightly salted with natural rock salt.

More quick & easy chicken skillet meals:

keto chicken korma

Since I’m back at work, I have less time for cooking and experimenting. At least one good thing of being furlough, is that you have plenty time for cooking, eating and trying for new recipes. Now I’m back to my old routine, looking for quick and healthy dinners and meals I can prepare in the morning, dump into my slow cooker and enjoy after coming back from work.

Recently I’ve discovered korma spice blend in my local eco shop, and I’ve already almost emptied it. I’m not the biggest fan of Indian spices, but this one is fantastic. There’s plenty of cinnamon in it, so it not only gives amazing aroma, but also a lot of sweetness. I’ve balanced it with couple spoons of tomato passata, it also gives it a bit more colour to the sauce. I’ve used double cream to make it very creamy, but coconut milk would work even better. For finish use some chopped fresh coriander, which gives this specific flavour. And of course quite a lot of fresh garlic, natural antibiotic and fresh ginger for extra warming effect. Ginger and garlic it’s a great combo for upcoming Autumn and Winter. Especially this year, our bodies needs an extra care and awareness. So it’s good to always have on hand fresh garlic cloves, ginger and when you feel like cold or runny nose is on their way to catch you, you can just finely chop large garlic clove (or use a garlic press) and mix it for example with cottage cheese or natural yoghurt and have this mixture once a day. To make a ginger tea, chop some fresh ginger and boil for about 5 minutes. Drink it while it’s warm but not boiling hot. It will warm you up from the inside on a colder days.

To make korma chicken, you won’t need more than 30 minutes. Remember to find good quality chicken, from local butcher or farmers market. You can serve it with bunch of cooked or fresh veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or leafy greens.

If you can’t find korma seasoning, you can make your own blend using: ground coriander, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, ground cardamom, clove and chilli powder.

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keto chicken korma

INGREDIENTS for two portions + leftovers:

  • 500g chicken thighs
  • 350ml double cream (or a can of coconut milk for no dairy option)
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • about an inch (2.5cm) of fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter
  • about 3 tsp korma blend spice
  • pinch of coarse pepper
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • about 3 tbsp tomato passata (or 1 tbsp tomato paste)
  • fresh coriander for finish

DIRECTIONS

Chop the chicken in smaller pieces, do the same with onion.

Heat a large skillet adding 2 tablespoons of clarified butter. Toss the chicken and fry on a high heat until it gets golden. Then add some salt and chopped onion. Fry for another couple minutes, so it also gets slightly browned.

Slice or use a garlic press, also finely chop a piece of ginger, and add to skillet. Lower the heat and add all the spices. Give it a good stir so the spices goes everywhere. Add double cream or coconut milk, about 3 tablespoons of passata, and simmer on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

You should get thick, creamy and aromatic sauce. Just check if it’s salty enough, also if you like it a bit more spicy, sprinkle some chilli flakes on top. To finish sprinkle some fresh chopped coriander.

Serve hot with some fresh o cooked veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, or some salad leaves.

Enjoy!

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keto tandoori chicken, prawn & courgette skillet

Another quick and easy recipe from the chicken series, you’ll prepare in less than 30 minutes. That’s another one, that my partner keep asking about, even though he doesn’t like courgette.

In this simple, one skillet option all you need is just toss each ingredient one by one, fry for a while a here you have – full of flavour keto tandoori chicken and prawn, courgette skillet. I love one pot meals – easy to make and there’s not many dishes you need to wash afterwards.

I like using already cooked and peeled prawns. I’m not the best with seafood, we mainly eat only small prawns (sometimes I buy frozen seafood cocktail). But if you’re good with it, you can easily take some fancy king prawns and arrange them nicely on top of the meal.

Also tandoori is one of my favourite spice blends: paprika, coriander, garlic, chilli, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cumin – this mix gives a strong, rich flavour enhancing the taste of each ingredient in the same time. These spices warm your body and improve digestion. If you don’t have tandoori seasoning, but your spice cupboard is full of different spices, you can try make your own tandoori blend.

If you’d like to buy a ready made tandoori seasoning, always have a look at the ingredients list. Tandoori is known from it’s beautiful red colour, originally red chilli peppers provided this colour. While modern blends sometimes use red dye (E129) to enhance the red colour. Synthetic Red no. 40 is derived from either coal or petroleum byproducts. Natural food dye is made from cochineal, specifically the female, a species of insect (the insects are sun-dried, crushed, and dunked in an acidic alcohol solution to produce carminic acid, the pigment that eventually becomes carmine or cochineal extract, depending on processing). Synthetic Red No. 40 contain benzidene, a human and animal carcinogen permitted in low, presumably safe levels in dyes. If you’re interested in more informations about this subject, take a look on two articles I’ve linked below.

Anyway, whatever you buy, it’s always good to check the label and see what the manufacturer decided to add to a product, that potentially does not arouse suspicion and supposed to be natural. Sometimes you can be surprised what’s inside. I don’t want you to be paranoid though, but it’s good to know what you decide to put in your mouth. I’m afraid that if we would like to buy only 100% natural products, we would die starving. So lets keep the common sense, guys!

keto tandoori chicken, prawn & courgette skillet

INGREDIENTS:

  • 350g chicken thighs
  • 300g cooked and peeled prawns
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • 3 tsp medium tandoori spice blend
  • 2 medium courgettes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves

DIRECTIONS

Dice chicken in smaller pieces. Rinse courgettes and dice them in half slices. Slice onion lengthwise and slice 2 large garlic cloves.

Heat the large skillet, adding 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Toss the chicken, sprinkle with some salt and fry until golden. Add prawns and tandoori spice blend, fry for 2-3 minutes. Next add sliced onion, courgettes and garlic, sprinkle with some more salt. Fry until courgettes will be ready.

Serve hot with side salad (in my case easy white cabbage salad) or other depending of your choice.

Enjoy!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957945/

https://www.livescience.com/36292-red-food-dye-bugs-cochineal-carmine.html

keto creamy paprika chicken skillet

Another recipe from quick and easy chicken series. Today we have delicate, creamy paprika chicken breasts skillet served with crispy toasted almond flakes. Soft sweet paprika flavour, nothing too intensive or too spicy. For more intensive paprika flavour add two teaspoons of sweet paprika, for more gentle one teaspoon will be enough. For the creamy sauce you can use coconut milk like I did (to make it dairy free), or you can use double cream – it will make a delicious creamy texture. Creamy chicken is topped with toasted almond flakes, that goes really good with its gentle flavour and also adds some crisp and crunchiness to that dish.

This dish it’s a great keto dinner option, you can prepare in less than 30 minutes. You can serve it with bunch of steamed veggies, some salad or if you don’t mind carbs or grains – with rice or couscous.

If you’re interested in more recipes from quick & easy chicken series, here’s couple more of them:

So let’s jump to today’s recipe for creamy chicken skillet.

keto creamy paprika chicken skillet

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 400ml coconut milk (thick one from a can) fromthe fridge.
  • handful of almond flakes
  • 1-2 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • pinch of lemon pepper
  • natural rock salt
  • slice of clarified butter (or coconut oil)

DIRECTIONS

First of all, place your coconut milk in the fridge, so the creamy part will solidify and water will remain on the bottom of the can. We want to use only the thick part of it. You can also use milk from the cupboard but it will take more time to evaporate.

Slice your chicken breasts lengthwise, so you get thinner cutlets. Sprinkle with some salt on each side.

Heat a skillet adding slice of clarified butter or some coconut oil (I recommend adding clarified butter, because regular one will burn). When fat is hot place chicken breasts and fry until golden, on a quite high heat.

When chicken is browned, lower the heat and add 1-2 teaspoons of sweet paprika powder. 1 teaspoon for more gentle, 2 teaspoons for more intensive paprika flavour. I used two teaspoons. Give it not longer than 30 seconds, so that the paprika won’t burn (if it burns it will get bitter) and add thick, creamy part of coconut milk. Sprinkle with pinch of lemon pepper, and tiny bit of salt. Give it a good stir and simmer on a small heat, for 10 minutes. If you feel like the sauce is to thick, add a bit of coconut water from the can.

In the meantime, on a separate frying pan, toss a handful of almond flakes and toast them slightly to get golden and crisp. It will literally take a minute. Remove them from the pan and place in a small bowl.

Serve your creamy chicken with addition of your choice: cooked veggies, salad, rice or couscous, sprinkled with crispy toasted almonds.

Enjoy!

quick creamy chicken skillet with greens #nodairy

These days shopping is difficult sometimes. I do my preparations: make a meal plan, for a week or even two, write a shopping list, take a trip to the supermarket, spend couple of minutes queuing outside keeping social distance and when I’m finally in, I discover that one third of items from my list is not available. OK, my meal plan is kind of ruined if I can’t buy key ingredients. In this case I buy whatever is left and edible for us hoping that I’ll manage to figure out how to transfer this in a new meal plan.

Actually when I think about this right now, that was my way of grocery shopping before keto. Since we started keto I always had a plan. But before diet I used to do my grocery shopping very spontaneously, and after shopping I was thinking “OK, what can I cook with that?”.

And that’s how this dish came out. I bought some stuff, mixed it with other stuff I already had, and there you go! No dairy creamy chicken skillet with greens. It was supposed to be keto friendly, but as kale wasn’t available and I didn’t want to add spinach because I eat tons of it already, I finished with Edamame soya beans that was the last lonely pack in the freezer. There you go Edamame, you’re going with me!

If you want to keep it keto friendly instead of soya beans add kale, spinach or broccoli. Although I think Edamame soya beans goes really good with this dish. I’m a big fan of broad beans, and Edamame are very similar to them.

Edamame beans are whole, immature soya beans, and they have beautiful green colour, different than regular soya beans, which are typically light brown, tan or beige. Even though soybeans (and its products) has many health benefits, shouldn’t be overdose by some people. For people with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease can be harmful. One of the concerns mentioned is that soya beans, and more precisely the goitrogens present in it, can adversely affect the thyroid, interfering with the absorption of the T4 hormone. It’s very important for vegans, who tends to eat a lot of soy products. Their content in the raw product differs significantly from the one undergoing the cooking or fermentation process. At 90 degrees irreversible inhibition of many goitrogens. Most of them evaporate with steam during cooking (which is why cooking cabbage vegetables and seeds of legumes should take place without a lid). Soaking dry soya beans is also a way to reduce goitrogens in the product. The anti-nutritional effects of goitrogenic compounds mainly apply to raw products. So as long as you eat soy in moderation you’re fine. As I always say moderation is the key – everything is for people, as long as you don’t exaggerate. If you add a handful or two to your meal is fine, but if you eat all pack as a snack your gut won’t be thankful (I know something about it, I was able to eat a kilogram pack of broad beans watching a movie).

So  going back to our dish, even though Edamame are quite high in carbs (although they don’t raise blood sugar as other high carb veggies), they also have a lot of other nutrition: vitamin C, vitamin E, plenty of vitamin K, different vitamins B, lots of folate, large amounts of choline which according to this study might help reduce the inflammation that occurs when people have asthma. Other  study suggested that choline may help protect against the inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease. Deficiency of choline may increase the risk of liver disease, atherosclerosis, and possibly neurological disorders. They’re also full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese and copper. Also half cup of shelled Edamame gives you 9 grams fiber, about the same amount you’ll find in 4 slices of whole-wheat bread or 4 cups of steamed courgette.

Green beans are totally keto appropriate, have about 5g of carbohydrates in 150g of beans and similar nutrients as Edamame.

Together with some chicken, coconut milk and some spices made a delicious meal that you can prepare in less than 30 minutes. Just one more thing about coconut milk. Always check the label of coconut milk you buy. I’ve noticed that most of them contain only about 50% of coconut, and different emulsifiers and stabilizers like E412, E415, E435, E466, which we don’t want in our bodies. I found one that contains only: coconut extract (60%) and water. So always check the labels, maybe it will take some more time at the beginning, but you’ll make better choices. And eating better, you will feel better.

So now, lets go to the recipe.

chicken skillet with greens

no dairy creamy chicken skillet with greens

NOTE: for keto option swap beans for kale, spinach or broccoli.

INGREDIENTS (for 2 people):

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 handfuls edamame soya beans (or broad beans)
  • 2 handfuls green beans
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp clarified butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (or thinly chopped fresh if you have)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • natural rock salt
  • pinch of coarse pepper

DIRECTIONS

Dry chicken breasts with paper towel and slice in thinner portions. Try to make them all more or less the same thickness, so they cook evenly. You can also use mini chicken breast fillets – they will be also great for this dish.

Melt 1 tbsp of clarified butter in a large skillet. Higher the heat and place pieces of chicken. Fry until they get golden, add some salt and sprinkle with coarse pepper.

Add Edamame and green beans, shake your coconut milk can to get a smooth consistency and pour it to the skillet. Lower the heat, add the rest of spices: garlic granules and dried parsley. Stir and simmer for about 15 minutes. Do not cover the skillet, some water from coconut milk will evaporate, making the sauce smooth and creamy. Add some salt if needed and Voila! Your creamy chicken with greens is ready 🙂

green chicken skillet

30 minutes chicken