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a yummy substitute for maccas: zesty chicken

Calorie counting is dull. Actually, calorie counting is mind-numbingly, fist-eatingly tedious. It led me to second guess everything I put in my mouth and made me feel guilty for even looking at food. Since food is largely about pleasure for me I found this very upsetting. (On a side note, I’ve never really understood the term “guilty pleasure”. Why would you mix guilt with pleasure? It makes no sense!)

I’ve also found that calorie counting creates a sense of denial around food. When one is in the calorie counting headspace they are living a life of “no, I can’t have that, even though I really want to”. It leaves a person feeling dissatisfied and, most of the time, hungry.

While I was calorie counting I didn’t lose any weight. I’d often skip meals in order to “save” my calories so I could have wine with my incredibly indulgent dinner. It was ultimately self-defeating and it didn’t work.

Unfortunately, discovering this did not change the reality of my situation – I wanted to be healthier and I wanted to look and feel good.

Fortuitously I happened on a book Called French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. It has heavily influenced my attitude towards food and taught me that it is completely possible to combine healthy eating with pleasure. Advice such as: “Eat slowly, relishing every bite. You will feel full more quickly and therefore be less likely to over eat” have been incredibly useful. Furthermore, doing away with having a sense of guilt associated with food is an excellent idea. Guilt will not motivate you to eat more healthily; it will just make you feel bad. So don’t feel guilty about binging on something deep fried and smothered in chocolate. Just balance it out by eating well the next day.

I found this recipe in the French Women Don’t get Fat Cookbook as a fantastic example of how eating well can be delicious and satisfying. I have tweaked it somewhat as I have found the original recipe to be a little too acidic. I hope you enjoy it.

Zesty Chicken

Olive oil
8 chicken thighs (trimmed of fat)
The zest of 1 lemon
The zest of 1 orange
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup of fresh sage leaves, chopped
¼ cup of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp of fresh rosemary, leaves chopped


1. Preheat oven to 190°.

2. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the zests, garlic, parmesan cheese and fresh herbs and combine well.

3. Next, take a chicken thigh trimmed of fat and dip them into your lightly beaten egg mixture. The idea is to moisten the meat but shake off excess egg. Then roll lightly in the zest mixture so that it is well coated. Repeat these steps for each chicken thigh.

4. Then, lightly oil a medium sized baking tray, making sure it is spread evenly to ensure your chicken thighs do not stick to the tray and burn. Place chicken thighs on the tray and cook for 15 minutes*. Then, rotate each thigh and place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

5. Serve with something green. The last time I had this I served them with lightly steamed asparagus in French dressing.

Serves 4

*Cooking times will vary from oven to oven.

By Emma Robinson

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