Monday, September 6, 2010

Start Cooking! Moroccan Chicken With Chickpeas

The first must have ingredient is plastic. Whether you plan to cook to eat healthier and better quality food, or for the convenience of coming home and having dinner ready, or simply to save some money, you’ll need to get yourself some plastic. Containers, that is. Cooking for one? It takes as much effort to make four dinners as it does one, so you may as well make multiples and store them. Cooking for two or more? Consider doubling the recipes posted and freeze in meal size batches.
It’s a strange time. Most teens and twenty and thirty something’s simply don’t know how to cook. Many were raised in homes where there simply wasn’t much cooking. That is, if you don’t consider microwaving frozen pizza or chicken nuggets as cooking. Others had the convenience of fast food and family restaurants at their doorstep, with little time to invest in shopping and cooking. Want to start a great business? Open a “teach the newlyweds to cook” center. It’s the perfect wedding gift, if the couple cares to wait that long!

I spend a lot of my time directing patients on how to get healthy, great tasting, balanced meals on the table. And I finally compiled a list of these menu ideas that met the criteria when my son moved into an apartment when studying abroad, ready to start cooking on his own for the first time.
The recipes and cooking tips are not designed for people with special dietary needs, yet all the recipes can be easily modified to accommodate your particular nutrition requirements. I know that many of you won’t approach a recipe unless you have clear instructions and know exactly what and how much is in it. So I have attempted to measure things as I’ve made them, and even photographed the process, since many of you may be more visual learners.

Please give me feedback! How was the recipe? How did it taste? Was it challenging or manageable? And do you like having this feature on the blog?

Thanks, and bon app├ętit!

Morrocan Chicken with Chickpeas

(Serves 5-6)*
Ingredients (in order of appearance):

Oil, canola, vegetable or olive, approx. 2-3 Tbsps. (just enough to help saute the onions)
Onion, 2 medium
Boneless chicken breast, 1.5 lbs.
Cumin, 2 Tbsps.
Cinnamon, 1 Tbsp., optional
Chickpeas, 2 cans, rinsed
Raisins, 1/2 cup
Prunes and/or dried cherries, 1/2 cup total
Frozen orange juice, 1/3 to 1/2 cup
Water (1 - 1.5 cups, depending on amount of OJ used)
Salt, to taste

What You'll Need:
Approximately 15 minutes of prep time
Approximately 50 mins or hanging around time while the food is cooking
A large skillet with sides
A sharp knife

So here goes!

1) Chop or slice the onion (take the skin off first, of course!). It doesn't matter the size of the pieces. Put the onion aside for a minute.

2) Cut up the chicken in largish bite size pieces. Trim off any fat or undesirable things.

3) Heat the pan with the oil--medium temperature should work. When it appears hot (you'll see some lines in the oil).

4) Add the onion, cooking until translucent (it looks like cooked, not raw onion, and it is not yet browned.) Should take a few minutes.

5) Add the chicken spreading it around the pan. Let it start to cook before trying to mix it (or it will stick). Then stir it to more evenly cook it. But don't worry about cooking it completely. You are just partially cooking it now, then simmering it in the pan after.

6) Sprinkle the cumin and cinnamon. Then mix.

7) Add chick peas, dried fruit and orange juice concentrate. Add the water and mix. Cover and simmer at a low to medium temperature. Cook for about 50 minutes.

8) Stir occasionally. Add salt to taste.

Yum! I love this served on Israeli couscous (takes only 10 minutes and adds great texture) along with a green vegetable. Leftovers freeze well. Please share your thoughts on the taste and the process. Was it manageable? Is this your first time cooking?

*For those of you using a meal plan--portioned to serve 6, this will count as 4 protein servings, 1 fat, 2 fruit and one grain.


  1. I'm making it for my family tomorrow. Looks so good. hey --I saw the recipe while going through blog archives and wanted to make it, but searching was hard --had to use "orange" to find it. I guess it's "Moroccan" instead of "Morrocan". Thanks for all of what you write. I've really found a goldmine in your blog!

  2. Thanks for pointing this out, Amara! When I've never been too systematic about the labeling, which doesn't help the search process. It's on my list to fix!
    BTW, my favorite restaurant when I was in college in Providence, RI was called Amara's! It's no longer there, but the name evokes memories of fabulous home baked breads and wonderful wholesome soups!