Having a Pilaf with Lora

Chicken Pilaf

 

Please excuse the name of this weeks blog.  It’s just whenever Neil asks me what we are having for tea and I tell him chicken pilaf, his response is usually along these lines.
“Lora, are you having a pilaf!?”

I am currently in a heavy training block, as the Road World Championships in South Africa are less than 3 weeks away.  When in a heavy training block i like to have a stockpile of simple, quick and nutritious meals at hand.  One of these meals is my chicken pilaf, which I made earlier this week.

It takes just 30 minutes to make the pilaf, using only one pan, making it quick to clean up after.  There are several variations to this dish, making it extremely adaptable.  The recipe serves 2 athletes, but can be easily doubled, tripled or halved depending on your needs.

This week I used the following ingredients:

  • Dash of coconut oil.
  • 1 garlic clove grated.
  • 1 onion chopped small.
  • 1 leek sliced.
  • 1 carrot peeled and chopped small.
  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts cut in to small chunks.
  • 125 g basmati rice.
  • 300 ml chicken stock.
  • Pinch of mixed dried herbs.
  • Half a pack of closed cup mushrooms cut small.
  • 100 g fresh spinach.

How to Cook:

  • fry the garlic, onion, carrot and leek in a large lidded saucepan over medium heat for approx 5 mins.
  • Add the chicken and mixed herbs to the pan and fry for another couple of mins, stirring as needed.
  • Add the stock and the rice to the pan, put the lid on and turn the heat down low, leaving for 10 minutes to gently simmer.
  • Add the mushrooms, give it a good stir, put the lid back on and leave it continuing to simmer for 5 more mins.
  • Finally, add the spinach and stir for 1 minute, until the leaves have wilted, then serve.

Why it’s so good for you.

Spinach is an extremely nutritious and versatile vegetable, and can be eaten both raw or cooked.  Because of it’s extremely high vitamin and mineral content, it is often referred to as a “superfood”.  Spinach is rich in iron, a mineral vital for the production of red blood cells and transporting oxygen around the body.  When exercising we need a good supply of oxygen to our muscles for them to work efficiently.  If we don’t, we get tired more quickly, therefore we need a good supply of iron in our diet.  Spinach can be easily incorporated in to most meals.  Simply add handfuls of the leaves to a pan towards the end of the cooking process of most pasta sauces, stews, rice dishes or stir fries.  Other iron rich foods include red meat, eggs, lentils, beans and nuts.

 

Other variations of my chicken pilaf I have made include:

  • Swap spinach for kale.  It just needs to be added to the pan at the same time as the mushrooms as it needs a little more cooking than spinach.  As kale is also classed as a dark green, leafy vegetable, it is another good source of iron.
  • Swap Carrot for peas, sweetcorn or both.  Again just add them to the pan towards the end of cooking, rather than at the beginning.
  • Swap rice for quinoa.  If you want to increase your protein intake then quinoa is a good option.  This is cooked in exactly the same way and tastes just as good.
If you do decide to give my chicken pilaf recipe a go then I hope you enjoy it and feel healthy for eating it after.

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