Do you ever have those days when it all seems a bit too much? All those photos of lovingly prepared, beautifully curated, 'clean' breakfasts and suppers that permeate your social media accounts, making you feel a little bit inadequate.
Some days you're lucky if anything resembling breakfast makes an appearance at all. Other days, you'll happily convince yourself that the cucumber in your Hendricks and tonic is a sufficient intake of green stuff for the week.
No judgement. I've been there (and still frequent that place from time to time).
And, whilst those kinds of days do crop up now and again, when they happen more often than not, the ability of both our bodies and minds to function well becomes impaired.
Breast or thigh...?
I'm a big proponent of balance. Of doing your best to meet your body's needs whilst getting on with the other million and one things that occupy your day. And that's when it's useful to have a few simple kitchen go-tos. My number one? Thighs.
Chicken thighs, to be exact.
Buy the skinless, boneless variety of the best quality chicken thighs you can afford.
Pop a small drizzle of rapeseed, coconut, sesame or avocado oil in an oven-proof dish and smear it around with a pastry brush so that it covers the whole dish
Open up the thighs, season and place them smooth side down into the dish, making sure they don't overlap
Drizzle a little bit more of the oil over the top
First give them 15 minutes on their own in the oven at 200C (180C if it's fan-assisted) to brown up
Then go to town...
You can add almost any combination of ingredients known to man - I tend to stick with around four. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
yellow peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, basil
lemon, garlic, courgettes, thyme
chorizo, tinned tomatoes, oregano
new potatoes (small cubes), asparagus, pancetta, rosemary
black olives, red onions, feta & mint (sprinkled over at the very end)
pak choi, coconut milk, green Thai curry paste, coriander
fennel, orange, flaked almonds, rocket (add the rocket after it's out of the oven)
peas, green beans, pesto, grated parmesan (add the parmesan five minutes before the end of the cooking time)
aubergine, red chilli, yoghurt, peanut butter
butternut squash, cumin, pomegranate seeds, tahini (mixed with a little water and lemon juice, and spooned over at the end)
sweet potato (small cubes), sun-dried tomatoes, cavolo nero, lemon
Add the rest of the ingredients other than any cheese or salad leaves, mix everything around, then pop back in the oven for a further 25 minutes (for the peas and green beans combo, give the chicken 25 mins to start with and only a further 15 mins after adding the veg).
If you use at least one fairly watery vegetable - like tomato or courgette - and give everything a stir halfway through, there should be enough moisture to ensure the chicken doesn't dry out. But, if it's looking a bit parched, just place a sheet of tin foil over the dish until the end of the cooking time.
You can play around with additional herbs and spices, or perhaps marinate the chicken with a combo of dried herbs, spices, oil and a smidgen of vinegar before cooking. There's also the option of sprinkling over some mixed seeds, or adding a squeeze of lemon or a scattering of fresh herbs before serving.
Depending upon the flavours you've chosen and how much time you want to dedicate to preparation, you could serve it with:
Tasty, nourishing and no need to stand over a hob stirring.
Whoever said 'breast is best' clearly hadn't seen my thighs.