Food Fridays: A Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Welcome back to Food Fridays! I’m Matt, and along with doing graphics, music reviews, & Worship Wednesdays, I’ll be writing for Food Fridays here on 365 Days of Inspiring Media. In my Food Fridays posts, I’m going to offer a healthy spin on dangerous, decadent recipes.

Just to share a little about myself, in November 2013 I learned that I had Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, and a Vitamin D deficiency. In addition, I was 81 lbs overweight when I was diagnosed. Overall, my highest weight was 324, when I got diagnosed I was at 281, and I am now at 239. My goal is to be at 200 or below by late Fall 2014.

With the support of my wife Megan, we were able to completely reorganize our eating habits. We’ve been working towards eating all organic foods, mostly gluten-free, and an overall clean eating plan. Along with that, we have drastically decreased our intake of sugars, breads, and fats. I’ll unpack those thoughts more at a later date. As for now, I really want to tell you how I revamped a popular recipe – Buffalo Chicken Dip.

If you do a web search for Buffalo Chicken Dip, you’ll generally see a basic recipe that calls for canned chicken breast, Philly cream cheese, Ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, and your choice of Hot Sauce. I tried this recipe when someone brought it to a church event, and it was completely amazing. I have to admit, I was shocked when I looked up the nutritional content. Long story short, Buffalo Chicken Dip is off the charts in fat, cholesterol, and sodium content.

The inner battle… I loved it. I had to figure out a way to make it healthier, and take the flavor profile even further; so here is the result:

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 Boneless Chicken Breasts
1 large onion diced
I 8oz pk of Neufchatel Cheese
¼ Cup of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
½ Cup of Panko Bread Crumbs
1 tbsp of Canola Mayo
1 tbsp of Sour Cream
1 tbsp Plain Non-fat Greek Yogurt
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
3 tbsp Hot Sauce (I use Frank’s Hot Sauce)
1 Pkg Ranch Dressing seasoning (make your own spice mixture to make it healthier)
House Seasoning to taste (equal parts Kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I like to add smoked paprika!)

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 325⁰F

In a Dutch oven, coat the bottom with your Extra Virgin Olive oil. Add in your diced onions, and stir them around in the EVOO.

Add in your 2 rinsed boneless chicken breasts, and add a light coat of your House Seasoning.

Put your covered Dutch oven into your 325⁰F oven, and set your timer for 90 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, let’s make your Ranch Dressing. In a bowl, add ½ tsp of Ranch Dressing seasoning to your mayo, sour cream, and Greek yogurt, and whisk together. Cover, and let it sit in the fridge for the remainder of the cook time for the chicken.

Health Tip: When you use Ranch Dressing from the store-bought bottle, 1 tbsp = 18 grams of fat, which is 1/3 of your daily recommended intake of fat. When you make the Ranch dressing yourself with the ingredients in my recipe, the entire bowl of Ranch Dressing has less fat content than 1 tbsp from a bottle from the store. To ramp up the health factor even more, create your own Ranch dressing spice mixture!

When the chicken is done,  use oven gloves to remove it from the oven and to uncover it, because it will be extremely hot.

Leave the oven at 350⁰F, because after the next few steps, the dip will go back into the oven for 20 mins.

Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board, and pull the chicken apart with 2 forks, like you’re making pulled BBQ chicken. Then use a knife to give the chicken a coarse chop.

Add the chicken back into the Dutch oven, and add your Hot Sauce, Neufchatel Cheese, Ranch Dressing mixture, and cheddar cheese, and stir to incorporate the ingredients. The Neufchatel Cheese will take some time to kind of melt, so mix gently.

At this point, you want to taste the dip, and decide if you need to add a little more hot sauce, or continue on with it as-is. I usually like it a little hotter!

Health Tip:  Most hot sauces are high in sodium, so you want to use them sparingly. Instead of adding more hot sauce, I’ll actually add some Cayenne powder, maybe ¼ tsp. This will kick up the heat without increasing the sodium content.

Allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes. While that’s going on, take a 9”x9” casserole pan, and spray the edges and bottom of the pan with cooking spray and coat with Panko Bread crumbs.

Take your Buffalo Chicken Dip Mixture, and put it into your casserole pan, spreading it flat with a spatula. Cover with a little additional Panko and cheddar cheese.

Put it back into your 350⁰F oven for 20 mins, or until the top is golden brown.

This Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe takes a little longer to prepare, but the amazing flavor and added health benefits from using more fresh, lower fat ingredients make it a labor of love.  Serve this Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe with Blue corn tortilla chips or veggie sticks, and enjoy!

Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!

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