Are you looking for a high protein meal that’s bariatric friendly and can be on your table in just over a half hour? Chicken Pesto Bake may be the perfect weeknight meal for gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients who easily tolerate chicken.
There are only 4 ingredients in this meal, making it simple to prepare and easy to make in a short period of time. The recipe calls for chicken breast, fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato slices, and pesto sauce. The chicken and cheese provide protein, the tomato provides a small amount of carbohydrates, and the pesto provides fat. As a reminder, Dr. Shillingford’s weight loss surgery patients are encouraged to take small bites, chew each bite thoroughly, stop when your stomach feels full, and separate your water from your meals.
4 Ingredient Chicken Pesto Bake (Adapted from recipe by By Bailey Sissom)
3 chicken breasts
1 6 oz jar of basil pesto (or the homemade equivalent)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
3-6 slices fresh mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- If your chicken breasts are thick, you can butterfly them by slicing horizontally down the middle. This will make them cook quicker. Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
- OPTIONAL STEP: Sear each chicken breast by cooking in a pan with a little olive oil or cooking spray)
- Place raw or seared chicken in a baking dish.
- Cover each piece of chicken with a smear of pesto.
- Top with a slice of mozzarella (one of each side if butterflied) and two slices of tomato.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of breasts and whether or not they’ve been seared. Bake until the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
- Broil for 2 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
While chicken is a source of high quality protein ( ½ cup of cooked chicken provides 19 grams of protein, 0 g of carbohydrates, and about 168 calories), many bariatric patients can have trouble tolerating chicken in the months after their gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band surgery. Many find chicken breasts to be too dry to easily tolerate. Many have trouble chewing and swallowing the chicken without gagging or feeling like the chicken gets “stuck.” Two possible ways to prevent this are by switching to moister chicken thighs or by adding moisture to the chicken breasts. If neither of these make the chicken more tolerable after weight loss surgery, pause trying to fit chicken into your gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band diet, continue choosing protein options that you do easily tolerate, and try chicken again at a later date.
Dr. Shillingford, MD, PA is a board-certified surgeon who specializes in advanced laparoscopic and weight loss surgery. Many of his gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients find his Boca Raton office is conveniently located by Coral Springs, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Wellington. For his patients that travel from the Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Jupiter area, stay tuned for news of a Treasure Coast office opening soon!