In Texas, there are usually only two types of weather conditions: hot and very hot. Having been hit with an unexpected (and devastating) winter storm, my family and I have hunkered down, hoping that things get back to normal in our state very soon.
While waiting for the weather to get better, I prepared a healthy version of a festive Mexican dish, Pozole. Adding a handful of powerful greens and chicken as the main protein, this dish never disappoints.
Pozole has been around for centuries and can be cooked a variety of ways – white, red or green sauce, and with different protein fillings. In my culture, food is all about being tasty and satisfying. However, through this pandemic, I have used today’s updated research on “foods to boost mood” for continued wellbeing, life outlook and staying positive.
Boosting Nutrition found in this recipe
- Tyrosine, an amino acid, has been shown to improve mood, regulate sleep, and help ease emotional stress. Protein-rich foods, such as chicken breast, and whole grains are good sources of this amino acid.
- Folate has been found to play a role in the synthesis of serotonin, also known as the “happiness hormone” due to its mood boosting power. Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach are great sources of this nutrient.
- Antioxidants keep the brain in good shape by fighting-off inflammation. Tomatillos, poblano peppers, spinach, onions, cilantro and bell peppers are excellent sources of this nutrient.
Pozole de Pollo Recipe
Prep and Cooking Time: ~1 hour
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
- 4-8 cups homemade chicken broth (see below) or chicken stock
- 4 cups canned Hominy, drained and rinsed
- 8 small sized tomatillos (green tomatoes)
- 2 large poblano chiles
- 1 large jalapeno
- 1 12 oz bag of spinach, fresh or frozen
- ½ large white onion, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- ½ Tbsp ground cumin
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
*For Homemade Chicken Broth
- 3 boneles, skinless whole chicken breasts
- 8 cups of water
- ½ of large white onion, cut in half
- Bunch of cilantro leaves with stem
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 cube of chicken flavored bouillon*
- Corn tostada(s)
- Cilantro leaves
- Shredded Oaxaca cheese
- Yellow or red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- Fresh lime juice
- Making the chicken broth. Add 8 cups of water and oil to a 4-quart pot and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and add chicken breast, onion, cilantro and seasonings. Simmer slowly to extract flavor, approximately 15 minutes. Collect chicken breast from broth and place in a bowl. Set aside and let both chicken breast and broth cool.
- Place tomatillos, poblano peppers and jalapeno, “greens” in a skillet over medium heat. Occasionally turn all items until skin is soft and blackened, approximately 15 minutes. Peppers may take longer.
- As we let the “greens” blacken, begin to shred the chicken breasts. Set aside.
- Remove greens from skillet and let cool. Place the poblano peppers in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap for 2-3 minutes. Remove skin, slice off the top of the poblano and remove the stem and seeds.
- Add tomatillos, poblano peppers and jalapeño to a blender, blending on medium speed until smooth. Set aside.
- Add oil to a brazier or a deep pan (needs to hold at least 8 cups) and heat over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until onion softens, approximately 5 minutes. Add tomatillo sauce and chicken broth until mixture is simmering. Add all remaining ingredients, shredded chicken, hominy and spinach. Continue to stir until simmering for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.
- Scoop into individual bowls and garnish with recommended toppings.
The Nutrition Corner: Despite our misconceptions, frozen fruits and vegetables can truly be healthy. In fact, frozen produce has more vitamins and minerals compared to fresh because the freezing process helps in retaining their nutrients. With this pandemic, frozen produce can be a convenient, affordable and healthful food items.