IN YOUR PRIME: Cajun chicken with caramelized onion rice is spicy, healthy

Cajun Chicken and Caramelized Onion Rice. LINDA GASSENHEIMER/TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

Combined ShapeCaption
Cajun Chicken and Caramelized Onion Rice. LINDA GASSENHEIMER/TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

Cajun cooking is considered the country cousin to Creole cuisine. Creole is described as city food, while Cajun is often referred to as country food. It’s hot and spicy. If you like your food really hot, serve hot pepper sauce on the side.

Helpful Hints:

  • You can use any type of onion.
  • Spread seasonings over chicken and let stand while preparing the remaining ingredients and rice.
  • Make sure your bottle of dried herb is less than 6 months old.
  • Make sure your bottle of dried thyme is less than 6 months old.
  • Sauté chicken on a low flame to keep spices from burning.


  • Marinate chicken.
  • Start onions and red bell pepper.
  • Remove to a bowl and use same skillet for chicken.
  • Make chicken.
  • Finish rice.

Shopping List:

To buy: 3/4-pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 bottle paprika, 1 bottle cayenne pepper, 1 bottle dried thyme, 1 bottle garlic powder, 1 red bell pepper and 1 package microwaveable white rice.

Staples: canola oil, onion, salt and black peppercorns.


Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

3/4-pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons canola oil

Place chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound it so it is an even thickness of about 1/2 inch. Mix paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, salt and garlic powder together in a bowl. Add chicken and roll in the seasonings being sure to coat both sides. Set aside while preparing remaining ingredients for the meal.

Heat oil in the nonstick skillet used for the onions over medium heat. Sauté 2 minutes. Turn and sauté 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let sit 10 minutes for a 1/2-inch-thick piece. Cook 3 minutes per side for a 1-inch-thick piece. A meat thermometer should read 165 degrees.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 251 calories, 9.1 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 4 g monounsaturated fat, 126 mg cholesterol, 38.6 g protein, 1.5 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g dietary fiber, 0.1 g sugars, 224 mg sodium, 603 mg potassium, 367 mg phosphorus

Exchanges: 5 lean protein, 1/2 fat


Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

2 cups sliced onion

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 cup sliced red bell pepper

1 package microwaveable white rice (to yield 1 1/2 cups)

Place onion in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 5 minutes. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and red bell pepper. Sauté 5 minutes, stirring during that time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a bowl.

Meanwhile, cook rice according to package instructions and measure 1 1/2 cups. Reserve any remaining rice for another meal. Add to the bowl with the onions and red bell pepper. Toss well.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 269 calories, 5.1 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 50.5 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g dietary fiber, 6.9 g sugars, 9 mg sodium, 318 mg potassium, 98 mg phosphorus

Exchanges: 2 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat

From “Quick and Easy Chicken” by Linda Gassenheimer, published by the American Diabetes Association. Reprinted with permission from The American Diabetes Association. Gassenheimer’s latest book is “Simply Smoothies: Fresh & Fast Diabetes-Friendly Snacks & Complete Meals,” published by the American Diabetes Association. To order either book call 1-800-232-6733 or at

About the Author