BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes - The easiest of meals also happens to be hearty, healthy and endlessly adaptable.

This easy meal has just four main ingredients and is hearty, healthy and adaptable. Built-in portion control is an added bonus! 

 

 

Navigating the road to delicious, well-balanced nutrition can seem like an endless mission riddled with potholes and obstacles. So today’s nourishing recipe is paired with wisdom from a special guest, Nutritionist and Food Freedom expert, Nicole Hagen, who shares helpful insight and easy-to-implement strategies to keep us feeling and looking like our best self.

I first met Nicole when she was a college student, struggling with her own eating issues. She used her personal challenges as fuel to learn more and help others. Years later, Nicole is a sports nutritionist with LG Health, health coach and one of the smartest, most beautiful souls I know.

Nicole’s positive energy and can-do mentality is infectious. When she talks about food and health, I inevitably find myself wishing I could record her words and share them with my readers.

Well guess what? Today is the day!

Nicole is sharing her professional knowledge, unique perspective and a handful of helpful strategies as they relate to the concept of dieting. I will circle back when it’s time for the recipe, but for now, I’d like to introduce you to Nicole…

 

 

You didn’t fail the diet, the diet failed you.
by Nicole Hagen

It’s mid February. We’re nearly eight weeks into the New Year and, if you’re like most people, you’re feeling defeated because you’ve already failed your diet resolution. Whether your goal was to cut out carbs, eliminate sweets or to start calorie counting (again!), you’re already in need of a reboot.

Or maybe you’re thinking, “What’s the point? It never sticks anyway. Shouldn’t I be able to eat the food I like and enjoy my life!?”

My answer is a resounding, YES! But before you resign to give up entirely, let me ask you this question: What if you didn’t fail the diet. What if the diet failed you?

You saw a need for change, you set a goal, you rallied all your good intentions and picked a plan that you thought would get you there. Only it didn’t. And it left you feeling worse off than before.

Sound familiar?

In my 6+ years as a nutrition coach I’ve come to realize that it’s not the people who fail, it’s the programs we subscribe to. They’re rigid, full of restricting rules and advocate for a one-size-fits all approach.

But guess what? Your body, your needs, your preferences, your lifestyle is unique to you and only you. So doesn’t it make sense that the nutrition strategy you choose to help reach your goal is too?

5 Not-So-Secrets to Sustainable Fat Loss (i.e results that stick)

  1. Expand your all-or-nothing thinking: Good versus bad. Black versus white. On a diet versus off the wagon. All versus nothing. Life doesn’t happen in these binary constructs, and this mindset sets us up for disappointment. Instead of trying to execute a goal perfectly or to eat the best you possibly can, aim instead for “a little more, a little better”.
  2. Expect that failure is a part of the process: Instead of viewing failure as “falling off the wagon” or an automatic “go back to home” card, think of it as helpful feedback. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation? And how can I change my environment/behavior so it’s less likely to happen in the future?”
  3. Start small: Throw out the idea perpetuated by diet culture that a diet has to be a complete “eat this, not that” overhaul. Instead, start with one small change and you are guaranteed to be exponentially more successful. From there, grow your consistency before increasing in complexity.
  4. Accept that the perfect program can’t be found, but rather, the perfect program is created: Instead of trying to fit your unique body, needs, preferences and lifestyle into a rigid set of rules, create your own sustainable style of eating that allows you to enjoy what’s important to you while still seeing progress towards your goals.
  5. Find your support squad: Accountability ensures action. Find a friend, family member or coach who can check-in, offer support and act as a sounding board. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Clearly communicate what you need. Share your wins. Talk through your stumbling blocks.

 

Creating and navigating a nutrition strategy that works for you and your body amidst the myriad of quick fixes, fads and short-term solutions can be confusing. We’re not alone.

 

Nicole welcomes questions. Feel free to ask questions in the comment section below-she will answer them for us! I’ve also included her contact information below, as well as links to her coaching website and blog.  You can also follow Nicole on Facebook and Instagram.

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes - The easiest of meals also happens to be hearty, healthy and endlessly adaptable.

(This is Ann again. 😊) Given our mutual interest in health, nutrition and enjoying what we eat, Nicole and I talk a lot about food. The dessert lover in me has long appreciated Nicole’s realistic approach to eating: nothing is off limits and there should be no guilt.

We both know that half the battle to eating well is finding the time to cook. Excessive portions  and empty calories are far more prevalent-and often unintentional-when we eat on the fly.

Consequently, we can never have too many quick and easy recipes that are equal parts healthy and satisfying. All the better when those recipes are flexible, make use of leftovers and reheat well.

Enter BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. They call for just four main ingredients and provide serious fill factor thanks to a balance of complex carbs, lean protein and plenty of flavor.

Simple meal prep and portability make this recipe ideal for packed lunches or quick reheating at the end of a long day.

Some diets these days rule out dairy and potatoes or place BBQ sauce off limits. Yet all these things can play a role in a really healthy lifestyle. And if we forego the all-or-nothing approach to eating, we might ultimately achieve more of our health and fitness goals.

In other words (and borrowing from Nicole’s methodology), if we aren’t completely rigid in our thinking, maybe the diet won’t fail us!

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes - The easiest of meals also happens to be hearty, healthy and endlessly adaptable.

I’ve always liked this recipe because it’s a source of healthy carbs, contains lean, filling protein and is portion controlled. The less nutrient dense components (the sauce and the cheese) provide flavor that makes the eating experience enjoyable but are held to a reasonable level.

Nicole whole-heartedly agreed and said she especially liked that the recipe is “easy, convenient and super tasty.”

A welcome balance of sweet and savory makes sweet potatoes my top pick for the base of this meal. Of course, because sweet potatoes are the bane of my younger son’s existence….there is an alternative! ⇩

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes - The easiest of meals also happens to be hearty, healthy and endlessly adaptable.

What we like about BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes:

  • Short ingredient list
  • Recipe can be scaled for one person or a large family
  • All-in-one meal with a balance of protein, carbs and fat
  • Leftover chicken can be incorporated
  • Can be meal prepped for work lunches, quick dinners, etc.
  • And in Nicole’s words: “easy, convenient and super tasty!”

 

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes
Yield: 1 serving (easy to multiply for as many servings as needed)
The easiest of meals also happens to be hearty, healthy and endlessly adaptable!
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato* (about 8-10 ounces; could sub baking potato), washed and dried
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) cooked and shredded chicken
  • 2-3 tablespoons barbecue sauce, or to taste (homemade or Sweet Baby’s Ray’s for a favorite store-bought sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese (smoked cheddar is a nice option; may omit entirely for a dairy-free meal)
  • Optional toppings: pickled red onions (Link recipe) or minced onion, scallions or chives; hot or sweet peppers; chopped avocado; chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and pierce the potato several times with a fork. Place the potato on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on size of potato and individual oven, or until a knife can be easily inserted into the center. (Quick prep option: You may microwave the pierced potato until tender, and/or cook more than one when scaling the recipe for a family or for food prep option.)
  2. In a small bowl, combine the chicken with the BBQ sauce to coat. For sweet potatoes (my personal favorite), I like a light to medium coating of sauce but find a heavier coating works better for baking potatoes to fully moisten their somewhat drier flesh.
  3. Slice the potato lengthwise and then press the ends towards each other to help open it. (Tip: At this point, I fluff up the flesh with a fork so that BBQ mixture better integrates and flavors the potato. This also expedites cooling, as potatoes tend to really retain heat.) Fill the opening with BBQ chicken, and then top with the shredded cheese. Switch to the broil setting and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese has melted (I broil from the middle rack to avoid burning the cheese), and then serve with toppings of choice.
Notes

*The recipe provides a solid framework but the various amounts can absolutely be eyeballed and adjusted based on size of potato, as there is such a range in sizes. This recipe is also a great way to use leftover or rotisserie chicken. I often use my slow cooker chicken for the week” prep option (which adds a nice level of seasoning and makes for easy-to-shred meat), but you may start with an uncooked chicken breast, season it to taste, and then sauté or bake until cooked through.

Prep ahead tips: I like to cook chicken in advance, often with the linked slow cooker recipe (but any basic leftover or rotisserie chicken may be used), and then shred, coat with barbecue sauce and refrigerate for convenient use as needed throughout the week. In addition to stuffing the baked potatoes, it makes a delicious barbecue chicken sandwich for another easy meal when served with a green salad, favorite slaw or vegetable of choice. For those who have a microwave at work, the stuffed potatoes can be fully assembled in advance and packaged in a microwaveable container for easy lunches throughout the workweek.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Nicole Cascio Hagen, MSc
Nutrition Coaching with Nicole
Sports Nutritionist at Lancaster General Health

Nicole and I both welcome questions and feedback, so feel free to join the conversation via the comment section below.

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Comments

  1. Gail

    Since diabetes runs in my family I try to avoid sugars and carbs since carbs convert to sugar in the body. But I am also wondering about complex carbs. What are they and are they better than just carbs?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Gail, Nicole may have something to add to this, but one major difference between simple and complex carbs is the chemical structure, which in turn affects how quickly they are digested and absorbed. There’s a bit of science behind this, but complex carbohydrates, which include whole grain foods and starchy vegetables, are more slowly absorbed than simple carbohydrates and don’t create a rapid spike in blood sugar. They also tend to keep us fuller longer. Simple carbs tend to be more processed, raise blood glucose levels more quickly, and offer less nutritional value. Here’s a link to a short writeup that offers a few more specifics, if interested: https://www.verywellhealth.com/simple-and-complex-carbohydrates-and-diabetes-1087570. I hope this helps!

      Reply
      1. Gail

        Thanks Ann for your reply and also the link to more information. I was actually surprised to see my comment posted, after having problems before but I thought I would give it a try.

        Reply
        1. Ann Post author

          My pleasure, and I was especially glad to see it, having known that you were having trouble. Hopefully, it was a temporary glitch on one end or the other!

          Reply
      2. Nicole Hagen

        Hi Gail! I love this question and applaud you for taking such care and consideration when it comes to your health. Like Ann mentioned here, carbohydrates are not all created equal. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple (not smart) and complex (smart) carbs. The latter category will serve your body BEST and, when eating in moderation, can be very beneficial for most of us. I hope this was helpful to you!

        Reply
  2. Dotti

    Hi Ann;
    What an opportune time for this recipe to appear! I have the sweet potato, had roasted a chicken on Friday with lots left over…will make up my own BBQ sauce. The potato is in the oven as I write, so this will be my lunch today. Thank you so much for the added info about diets. I like that approach to life!

    Reply
  3. Dotti

    Hi Ann;
    I highly recommend this recipe! My sweet potato was a bit larger (10 oz.) than you recommended, but I prepared it as you said. After it was all prepared, I cut it in half and ate one half for lunch and the other I reheated, eating it in the evening. It is very filling. I was quite satisfied eating that much at a time. I had planned to make up my own BBQ sauce, but instead used the ‘Apple BBQ Sauce’ from Cherry Hill Orchards which was quite good. I’ve also used that same sauce in my version of baked beans. It’s also good to add a tinge to the apple/pear sauce I make, gives it more of a dessert effect!
    This recipe is a definite keeper. Thanks so much.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Dotti, I really like how filling these are, too! I’m delighted you enjoyed and appreciate your feedback. The apple BBQ sauce sounds wonderful!

      Reply