Lightened Up Creamy Italian Chicken
Hi, I’m Amanda from Small Batch Treats + Healthy Eats! To me living a healthy life is all about balance; a lot of nutritious eats and a healthy dose of baking and eating my favorite sweets.
A few years ago I just ate whatever I wanted and I was really sedentary. After I had my first baby, I knew that I needed to change and live a healthier lifestyle so that I could raise my new little boy to be healthy too.
At first I thought that living a healthier lifestyle would mean having to give up my most favorite foods. But, I happily discovered that one of the best ways I could enjoy learning to eat healthy was simply to re-invent the foods I loved.
This lightened-up creamy Italian chicken is a perfect example of one of my very favorite dishes that I’ve given a makeover. The original recipe uses a full brick of regular cream cheese and one can of cream of chicken soup in the sauce. I also used to slice up a half stick of butter and put it over the chicken in the crock pot. YUM! But also, YIKES! It was a little unnecessary, at least in my opinion.
To lighten the recipe up, I decided to stop it with that butter (which was really hard for this butter lover at first). I also replaced the can of cream of chicken soup with a low-sodium chicken broth that I thicken with a homemade roux. The amount of cream cheese was reduced to six ounces, and I use Neufchâtel cheese which has ⅓ less fat than regular cream cheese.
The original recipe has 530 calories and 37 grams of fat per serving. This lightened up version has 335 calories and 16 grams of fat per serving. That is a difference of almost 200 calories and 20 grams of fat per serving!
The result is fabulous. It’s totally creamy and dreamy just like the original recipe was. Honestly, I can’t tell a difference and neither can my husband. He’s never noticed that I changed the recipe! My now three-year-old boy loves this meal. He usually licks the extra sauce out of the crock pot, true story. I hope you love this creamy Italian chicken as much as we do!
*For the chicken broth I use 1 tsp Organic Lower Sodium Better Than Broth mixed with 1¼ cup hot water (which is like a bullion paste that you store in the refrigerator). Any low sodium broth will do. The reason why I use low-sodium broth and unsalted butter is because the dressing mix already has plenty of sodium!
**I use Good Seasons Zesty Italian Dressing Mix.
Lightened Up Creamy Italian Chicken
- 1¼ lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1” pieces
- 1¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth divided*
- 1 0.75 oz package zesty Italian dressing mix**
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 oz Neufchâtel cheese
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
- Lightly grease a 4-to-6 quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Put the chicken pieces in the slow cooker. Sprinkle dry dressing mix evenly over the chicken. Pour ¼ cup of the chicken broth over the chicken.
- Cover and cook on high for 1½ hours or on low for about 3 hours. Stir chicken halfway through cooking time.
- When chicken pieces are cooked through, turn slow cooker to warm. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When butter is melted and bubbly, whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 1 minute (this step ensures that the raw flour taste cooks out of the roux). Slowly whisk the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth into the butter/flour mixture until smooth.
- Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer and thicken for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream cheese and ¼ tsp white pepper until cream cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Pour sauce into crock pot and stir into chicken until combined. Taste and add any additional salt as needed to taste--- the dressing seasoning packet has a lot of sodium in it so I wait until the very end to add salt if it is needed (but it usually is not).
- The sauce will thicken as it cools. Serve over steamed brown or white rice, or cooked egg noodles. Sprinkle one tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese over each serving, if desired.