Autumn is the perfect time of year to enjoy savory pumpkin squash, spiced with sweet-tart apple juice. Pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse that packs 245 percent (245 of the daily value of vitamin A per serving) as well as a variety of minerals.
But, the best reason to enjoy pumpkin (the smooth-textured squash, not the dry, pale variety you carve) is the subtle flavor it adds to almost any dish. It’s buttery and satisfying. Yet it has less than 1.5 grams of fat per serving, and it’s a good source of fiber.
Pureed pumpkin has such a silky texture that it can be used as a substitute for fat in some baked goods. For this recipe, be sure to buy 100 percent canned pumpkin with no sugar or salt added. This quick, easy, one-dish bake makes a great fall meal. Serve it with a tossed green salad, or green vegetables.
Servings: 6 (per 4 ounces of chicken)
1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts about ½-inch to ¾-inch thick
1 1/2 teaspoons of rosemary
½ teaspoon each of parsley, black pepper, thyme, sage, basil and smoked paprika
4 cups cooked or “ready” brown rice
Olive oil for sprinkling
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/3 cup of apple juice
1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 cup of canned pumpkin (about half of a 15-ounce can)
Salt to taste (optional, not included in nutrition information)
Preheat oven to 425 F. Combine dry spices in small dish. Spread about ½ teaspoon of olive oil in baking pan, then cover bottom with rice. Sprinkle half of spice mix over rice, then lightly drizzle some olive oil over it and top with chicken breasts. Sprinkle remaining spice mix on chicken and drizzle a few more drops of olive oil on each breast. Mix pumpkin sauce ingredients and spread on each chicken breast; any remaining sauce can be served with dinner.
Bake for about 15-to-20 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Nutrition information per serving (values rounded to the nearest whole number): 360 calories; 10 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat); 65 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrate; 27 g protein; 3 g fiber; 70 mg sodium; 5 g sugar.