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Home Cooking Retooled for School

Chicken picatta gets healthful


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Click on the video above to watch Colleen Caldwell (CAS’09) offer advice for cooking healthy food on a budget, as she prepares chicken piccata and roasted asparagus.

Growing up in a traditional New England home, Colleen Caldwell (CAS’09) never left the dinner table dissatisfied — rich dishes, like veal filets sautéed in butter and oil, were the very pleasing norm.

“My mom’s cooking is delicious,” says Caldwell, “but it’s not always the best thing for you. So now that I’m in college and cooking for myself, I’ve lightened it up to lead a healthier lifestyle.”

But Caldwell will always crave her mom’s dishes, so she has found ways to cut the calories of those family favorites without cutting flavor. While preparing chicken piccata, for example, she uses cornstarch rather than butter to thicken the sauce. Other healthful substitutions include applesauce and yogurt for oil and eggs in baking and more vegetables and less meat.

Caldwell also tries not to let her limited time and money stand between her and delicious meals. She buys in bulk at wholesale clubs like BJ’s and Costco, stocking up on staples such as pasta, rice, canned beans, and tomato sauce. She also searches the circulars of supermarkets such as Shaw’s and Trader Joe’s online on Thursday nights — sales usually begin on Fridays — planning her dishes around sale items.

Caldwell’s approach to cooking is both artistic and pragmatic. Dressing her dishes with slices of lemon and other brightly colored ingredients, she treats each meal like an art project.

BU Today asked Caldwell for her recipe for chicken picatta with roasted asparagus.

Chicken Picatta

Cooking spray
2 (3-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts — take 1 chicken breast
and cut it lengthwise
1 lemon, halved
1 lemon, sliced
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably low-sodium)
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and pepper to taste

Place a sauté pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. While the pan heats, salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Sauté the chicken breasts until they are cooked three quarters through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside. Pour the chicken broth into the pan and squeeze one lemon cut side up to catch the seeds. Add the capers and cook briefly, about 2 minutes. Add the cornstarch and water mixture to thicken the sauce. Put the chicken and any accumulated juices back in the pan. When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, add the sliced lemon.

Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim the ends of the asparagus with a sharp knife. Spread the asparagus on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper and roast until bright green, 5 to 7 minutes.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.


One Comment on Home Cooking Retooled for School

  • FitDelicious on 03.05.2009 at 12:10 pm

    Healthy eating

    I am a Boston University alumni, Ed.D. Educational Media & Technology, 1985. I just finished writing a publishing a book FitDelicious: Lose the Pounds, Not the Taste; Food Intelligence Tools™ for Healthy and Delicious Eating with hundreds of healthy and delicious recipes and FIT tips for healthy eating. How about doing a review of my book for BU Today and the Bostonia Alumni magazine http://www.fitdelicious.com

    Marcia Schurer, Ed.D. BU 1985

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