Challenger School

Chicken with Spinach & Apple


Apples and spinach are at their seasonal peak, abundant at farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Quick and easy, kid-friendly meals that are delicious and nutritious are key this time of year, and this recipe fits the bill.

This month, we combine apples, spinach and chicken in one-pan cooking. Searing chicken first enhances flavor and produces moist, tender bites. Seasoning with mustard gives the chicken a deeper, earthier flavor, which contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the apples.

Adding fruit to main dishes is becoming more popular because they add a nutritional boost and more flavor and texture. The tart quality of the Granny Smith apples balances the sweetness of the red apples. Apple cider is the perfect acidic liquid to pull together the flavors of garlic, mustard, apple and chicken.

Tossing in spinach at the end of cooking lets it just wilt while keeping its bright green color and nutrients. Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with fiber, vitamins K, A, C, folate, iron, magnesium and many health-promoting carotenoids including beta-carotene, leutin, and zeaxanthin. It is purported that in the 1930s, United States spinach growers credited the cartoon character Popeye the sailor man with a 33 percent increase in consumption.

Popeye knew the power of spinach, I’m strong to the finich, cause I eats me spinach… and apples.

Chicken with Spinach & Apple

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 (4-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
2/3 cup apple cider
1 medium granny smith apple, sliced lengthwise 1/8-inch
1 medium red apple, sliced lengthwise 1/8-inch (e.g., Gala, Fuji or Pink Lady)
8 cups packed fresh baby spinach

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sear chicken, cooking 6-7 minutes on each side until browned. Remove chicken and let sit a few minutes. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces, cover and set aside to keep warm.

To skillet, add garlic, mustard and cider and stir to combine well. Add apple slices and reduce heat to medium. Let simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring often.

Return chicken to skillet. Stir occasionally as sauce thickens, about 4-5 minutes.

Add spinach to skillet. Stir until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 257 calories, 9 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 17 g carbohydrate, 28 g protein,  3 g dietary fiber, 139 mg sodium.


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