This was the first chicken Parmesan recipe I ever tried and it is still my favorite! I hadn’t done a lot of cooking before college so during my early college days I spent a lot of time looking at different simple recipe books and trying new recipes. This is one I came across and although it is easy to make, it tastes like a chef made it.
2-4oz chicken breasts
1 egg, slightly beaten
¼ c bread crumbs
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup marinara sauce
¼ c shredded mozzarella cheese
½ tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Directions: Flatten chicken to ~1/4 inch even thickness. Dip in egg and then coat in bread crumbs. In skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Brown both sides of chicken in hot butter. Add marinara sauce. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Cover, and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
For this recipe, I always use chicken breast. We often overestimate our serving sizes so to give you an idea of how much a 4oz serving of chicken breast is, it is just bigger than a deck of cards or about the size of an average palm. In a 4oz portion of chicken breast, there is 26gm of protein and only about 1.5gm of fat. This is important because protein needs increase by about 25gm/d during pregnancy and it is best to spread your protein intake through the day with about 25-35gm of protein at each meal.
Spaghetti, especially whole-wheat spaghetti, provides an excellent source of carbohydrates. If you choose whole-wheat spaghetti you will also be getting additional fiber, vitamin E, zinc, and iron. If you don’t like the taste of whole-wheat pasta you can try making a half and half mixture of white spaghetti and whole-wheat spaghetti to see if that is better tolerated. Replacing some is better than having none.
For this recipe, you can either make your own marinara sauce or buy a premade bottled version. The base of any marinara sauce is tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of those foods that actually get most nutritious when they are cooked. Cooked tomatoes have significantly higher lycopene levels because as they are cooked, it becomes more bioavailable. So cooked tomato products, like those in marinara sauce, are actually the highest in lycopene content. Lycopene is a carotenoid with high antioxidant activity. Their anti-inflammatory properties are even more important during pregnancy as inflammation is linked to many health problems during pregnancy including preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
Mozzarella cheese can be made from part skim milk to whole milk so if you are worried about weight gain make sure to check the label and get a skim milk version. Cheese is a great source of calcium, which is often lacking in the American diet. In fact, just one ounce of mozzarella has 25% of the total recommended daily intake. Adequate calcium intake is crucial especially during pregnancy, as suboptimal consumption has been linked with an increased risk of preeclampsia and preterm labor. Mozzarella is also a great source of protein with 7gm of high-quality protein in every ounce serving.