A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were buying groceries from our friendly neighborhood superstore when we heard the approach of a young gay man and his beard as they got in line behind us…or so we thought. A set of nonchalant glances backward (after two years together, we have this choreographed to a science) confirmed that the more high-pitched and feminine of the two voices was actually another young gay man. Confirmation of the queerness implied in their speech patterns (Don’t judge me…I’ll judge you back!) was mutually established by the former queen’s towering and…warm-looking winter hat. Imagine a blue and white cross between a “Lion King” headdress and an Abercrombie model in Aspen.
Their small grocery purchase included some pretty healthy-looking food and a tray of refrigerated chicken breasts. As is acceptable practice in checkout lines everywhere, we went to great lengths to avoid acknowledging the existence of the outspoken individuals behind us, discussing Brangelina and recounting the merits of spearmint and wintergreen, respectively. Our conversation lulled however as I paid for my half of our purchase, and we couldn’t help but overhear this gem: “I usually bread my chicken breasts, but I don’t want to get fat. George, what should I do?” Boyfriend looked at me incredulously as I turned to him and rolled my eyes. Who wouldn’t? These were two adult men who had no idea how to bake a chicken breast?
It seemed that our visual exchange was observed however because “George” didn’t answer the question, and the constant jabbering behind us dropped off abruptly.
As we left the store, I couldn’t help wondering whether our apparent disdain had embarrassed the queerlings. Maybe they thought they had offended us (the bf and I aren’t exactly on the Atkins plan at the moment), or worse, felt senselessly judged and written off by other gay men, just because of the way they talked, or for simply asking a question.
I began to wonder why we’d gotten so uncomfortable when they’d initially joined the line. What would have happened if we had turned, smiled and said hello, or even struck up a conversation with two kindred spirits. Yes, they might have thought we were swingers and been disgusted. But maybe they would have responded to our kindness. The long wait would have been made more enjoyable, rather than less so, in the company of kindred spirits.
Alright since we’re over-sentimentalizing, in a world devoid of fear and judgment, I would have humbly turned to my anonymous little brother and explained how to bake or grill his entree, hence avoiding excess calories. Good feelings would have abounded, while we connected as gay men, sharing recipes in the marketplace. Instead, we each left thinking that the other probably hated him.
This brings me to the purpose of my contribution to this blog. Every month, I will share a story relating food to my interaction with our gay old community, and links to some basics of healthy food preparation, as well as a nutritious recipe you can enjoy with minimal effort. After all, this is a college town, we’re all busy about something. Eating well is fuel for the body, mind & spirit, not to mention enhancing…nighttime exertions. So George and shopping buddy, if by chance you are reading this blog, please accept the following recipe idea as a goodwill gesture and gay it forward, preferably the next time you see someone buying chicken;-)
My featured recipe this month is “Chicken Couscous”
1 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked couscous
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper
- Season the chicken cubes with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat
- Cook the chicken cubes in the oil until no longer pink and slightly brown, about 6 minutes
- Remove and drain the cooked chicken cubes on paper towels
- Reduce saucepan heat to medium and cook onions, cumin and cinnamon until onions are softened and lightly browned, about 3 minutes
- Add broth and bring to a simmer
- Stir in couscous, chickpeas and a pinch of salt and pepper
- Reduce heat to low, cover the saucepan and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and toss the chicken with the couscous mixture.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
According to Arthur Agatson and the good folks at the South Beach Diet, this makes 4 good sized servings, each of which packs only 320 calories, 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 33g protein, 32g carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber and 400mg sodium.
It should be noted that gluten-free eaters may substitute quinoa for couscous (both fairly cheaply available at most supermarkets). Chris and I can attest that this dish can be enhanced by the addition of a wide variety of diced, fresh or frozen vegetables (Saute them initially with the chicken)
Here are some further healthy uses for chicken breasts.
Finally, here are some knife techniques to help you quickly and easily throw strips of chicken breast or diced veggies on your salad or whole-wheat pastaJ