Healthy Baked Salsa Chicken (Paleo, grain-free, dairy-free, Whole30)

There is an adorable little story that goes along with this recipe for Healthy Baked Salsa Chicken.  

Healthy Baked Salsa Chicken (Paleo, grain-free, dairy-free, Whole30)

Way back when I was just a blushing bride-to-be, my bridesmaids and mom had this awesome idea to create a recipe book as part of a wedding shower gift for me. When mailing all out the invitations to my family and friends, they included a few blank recipe cards in the envelope with the request to write down some of the guest's favorite family recipes to pass on to me as I started building my own little family. So, at the end of my wedding shower, I was presented with a lovely little red recipe book filled with tried-and-true recipes from the people I love and trust most in the world.

How stinking cute is that!?!

Ken's mom included the birthday cake she had made him every year since he was a child.  Two of my cousins wrote down our nana's classic Pink Veggie Dip recipe (a combination of mayo, ketchup, and spices that I have loathed since I was a child, but appreciated as a token as a piece of my deceased grandmother). My own mother wrote down some of my favorite recipes from childhood (which I need to get on putting here on the here) and one of my aunts included THIS recipe for salsa baked chicken

Healthy Baked Salsa Chicken (Paleo, grain-free, dairy-free, Whole30)

Actually, this is not exactly the original recipe. 

Don't get me wrong, the original recipe is heavenly. Thick with breadcrumbs and butter. Dripping with melted cheese....it was near impossible not to love it. I made it many times as a newlywed and it was a regular meal in our young home. However, as I started to cleaning up my eating habits about 6 years ago, I realized this recipe wasn't exactly the healthiest of options and I tucked it away in my wedding recipe book.....soon forgetting all about it.

Fast forward to a few months ago. We had just made a big move into a new apartment and I was unpacking and organizing the bookshelf in our dining room. The red leather-bound recipe book caught my eye and I nostalgically started to thumb through the memories. As I started at the long lost (and loved) recipes, I started to think about how much history they had...and how I didn't want to let them slip away from my cooking and dinner table. Now much more confident in my healthy cooking skills, I was determined to reinvent the recipes Ken and I had been brought up on and give them a new, healthier life that I could feel good about feeding to my family.

This recipe was the first to receive a makeover.

Healthy Baked Salsa Chicken (Paleo, grain-free, dairy-free, Whole30)

I swapped out those breadcrumbs for almond meal and spices. Ditched the butter for coconut oil (though a little butter in your life is okay in my book). And left the cheese off entirely. As I popped the new and (hopefully improved) Salsa Baked Chicken in the oven, I crossed my fingers that this new version would be as wonderful as I recalled the original being. 

Guys....it was better. The chicken was so juicy and flavorful. The almond meal breading was perfectly crispy. And the zesty salsa paired with the creamy avocado made for such a great flavor finish that the cheese was not even missed. My husband inhaled it. My 5-year-old food critic, I mean daughter, ate every bite and asked for seconds. 

Score! Salsa Baked Chicken is now back in my (healthier) life and can now be part of your's.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I suggest mild if serving to children)
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine almond meal, nutritional yeast, sea salt, paprika, and onion powder. Stir a few times to mix ingredients. Set aside for a minute.
  3. Using a pastry brush, coat all sides of the chicken breasts with the melted coconut oil. Then place chicken breasts in almond meal mixture and coat all sides of the chicken with the almond meal mixture.
  4. Place chicken on a baking sheet or in a large baking dish and cook for about 25 minutes, or until juices run clear and the breasts are no longer pink in the middle.
  5. Remove from oven and top each chicken piece with salsa and avocado.
  6. Enjoy warm.

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