EATING FOR LIFE

Eating for Life | A leaner take on a Mexican classic

Using chicken instead of pork cuts calories in this classic dish.

Updated: 2013-01-03T00:32:26Z

By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA

The Kansas City Star

Posole — pronounced poh-SOH-lay — is a Mexican soup from the Jalisco region that is traditionally served at Christmastime.

But there is no reason to serve this hearty soup just once a year.

The Star’s Lighter Chicken Posole With Spinach combines the flavors and textures of the classic while tweaking several ingredients to make them better fit a contemporary diet and lifestyle.

A recipe from Taste of Home rang in at 430 calories with 29 grams of fat (9 saturated), 94 milligrams of cholesterol and 1,266 milligrams of sodium per 1 1/3 cup serving.

Our recipe replaces the pork shoulder with lean chicken and adds fresh spinach, which has better nutrition than cilantro, a more traditional garnish.

Hominy is a distinguishing ingredient, but soaking and cooking dried hominy kernels can be a time-consuming process. Instead we use canned hominy. Canned hominy is low in calories but is high in dietary fiber, however it is high in sodium, so be sure to rinse well after opening the can.

• Cooking tip: Wear gloves when chopping the jalalpeño; the oils can irritate skin. Also, be careful not to touch your eyes after working with peppers.

•  Serving tip: The jalapeño gives this dish a bit of heat. If a spicier dish is preferred, stir in 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes along with seasonings.

Lighter Chicken Posole With Spinach

Makes 6 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 (14.5-ounce) cans reduced sodium chicken broth

2 (15.5-ounce) cans hominy, rinsed and drained

2 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, trimmed and coarsely chopped

Optional toppings: minced cilantro, finely shredded cabbage, diced avocado, thinly sliced radishes

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in onion, red pepper, garlic and jalapeño pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in seasonings. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Stir in broth and hominy. Heat until boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in spinach. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes.

Ladle into bowls. Top each serving, as desired.

Per serving: 247 calories (21 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein, 298 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.

To reach Jill Wendholt Silva, The Star’s food editor and restaurant critic, call 816-234-4347, send email to jsilva@kcstar.com or follow her on Facebook.

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