I thought I was quite clever using carrot ribbons as pasta with this easy to prepare, healthy weeknight meal. By lightly steaming the carrots they ended up with a texture that was not unlike flat noodles, so there was no need for refined carbohydrates. Although this meal is nothing fancy it does provide protein from the chicken and some fats from the olives, as well as fibre and sufficient carbohydrates from the beans, carrots and side salad. It was tasty, too.
I had quick scan of the scientific literature so see if I could find anything interesting to tell you about olives. Oleuopein is the molecule that gives unprocessed olives the characteristic bitter taste and is the most abundant phenolic compound in olive leaves, seed, pulp and peel of unripe olives (up to 14% of the dry weight) (1). A recent review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (which to be honest is a pretty average journal) entitled ‘Effects of the Olive-Derived Polyphenol Oleuropein on Human Health’ reported that oleuropein has been shown to counteract oxidative stress both in vitro using human cell lines and in vivo using animal models. Studies have also documented anti-inflammatory effects of oleuropein and have shown that oleuropein can reduce lipid accumulation in the liver of mice fed high fat diets. Furthermore, animal studies have revealed that oleuropein is an important neuroprotective polyphenol and may have potential in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (2). So eat up knowing that you are fueling your body with food that is potentially good for your health all around!
Tomato, olive and bean chicken with carrot pasta and a kale side salad with a paleo dressing
Makes 4 servings
1 chicken stock cube
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 brown onion
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon sage
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 400 gram tin of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup sliced black olives
1 400 gram red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tomato, sliced
1/3 red capsicum, diced
Paleo salad dressing
2 ½ tablespoons reduced fat coconut cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
Non-stick fry pan
Measuring cups and spoons
Microwave proof bowl
Small mixing bowl
- Crumble the stock cube into a non-stick fry pan along with ¼ cup water. Add the garlic and onion and cook on high for about 5 minutes. Add in the chicken, basil, oregano and sage and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked.
- Add in the vinegar, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, olives and kidney beans and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken (about 15 minutes), stirring periodically.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrots into long ribbons. Steam the carrot ribbons in the microwave for 2 minutes. Drain them well.
- Prepare the salad dressing by combining all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. To make the salad, tear the kale leaves into bite size pieces, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and massage with your hands until the leaves are completely covered with the oil. Place the kale onto the plate and top with the remaining salad ingredients.
- Serve the Tomato, olive and bean chicken over the carrot pasta with the side salad drizzled with salad dressing.
- Ghanbari R, Anwar F, Alkharfy KM, Gilani AH, & Saari N (2012) Valuable Nutrients and Functional Bioactives in Different Parts of Olive (Olea europaea L.)-A Review. International journal of molecular sciences 13(3):3291-3340.
- Barbaro B, et al. (2014) Effects of the olive-derived polyphenol oleuropein on human health. International journal of molecular sciences 15(10):18508-18524.