Hi InSHAPE Community!
My name is April and I run a health & fitness blog called Fueling Function. I’m excited to be here today sharing a lean and flavorful take on a street-food favorite: Carnitas. With a base of flavorful shredded chicken, these carnita bowls can be adapted to meet your macros or your personal preferences. I love loading them up with brown or white rice, rinsed black beans, pico de gallo, tomatillo salsa, and a sprinkle of pepper jack cheese. But the options are endless and I’ll share tips for storing and eating these below!
Let’s Spice up the Chicken
The great thing about this chicken recipe that it can be made in the slow cooker or the Instant Pot (don’t you love set-and-forget meals?) I coarsely chop up onion, jalapeno pepper, and garlic cloves and throw them in the pot along with a seasoning blend. For the liquid, I squeeze the juice of oranges and lime to give it some tang and freshness. The finishing touch is a slug of Mexican Coke (it’s only about 1/4 cup, stay with me!) I add Mexican coke to the mixture because the acidity breaks down the chicken breast and helps it fall apart easily. It also adds a little sweetness!
Preparing Your Bowls
Like I mentioned above, you can easily customize these bowls to meet your macros. If you’re watching fat, limit or omit the guacamole and cheese; if you’re low carb, you can swap out rice for more protein or a healthy fat.
When it comes to toppings, I make it easy on myself! If you’ve got time to make rice from scratch, go for it. I’ll usually purchase ready-made packets of white or brown rice that are done in a snap. I buy canned black beans and rinse them before using. I add my favorite salsa to these also, Roasted Tomatillo salsa by Salsa Queen (a local company from SLC!) Toppings largely depend on preference and how much time you’ve got. Just remember to watch for added ingredients, sodium, and preservatives if you’re going to purchase toppings off the shelf.
Storing Your Carnita Bowls (Important!)
If you’re storing these for the week, it’s important to keep dry ingredients together and wet ingredients separately. This will be the difference between a fresh meal on Thursday and a soggy mess. Here’s what I recommend for storage:
These can be stored together (pick your preferences):
• Shredded chicken
• Sweet potato cubes
• Shredded cheese
These should be stored separately (pick your preferences):
• Salsa and/or pico de gallo
• Shredded lettuce
• Sour cream
• Guacamole/ avocado slices
Want more recipes?
It’s so exciting to be part of a community who knows the value of taking care of our bodies. Jake is a valuable resource for everyone looking to improve their health or level up! If you’d like to check out more recipes, my blog Fueling Function is dedicated to just that. I share meal prep recipes along with functional training tips, motivation to move, and more. Keep crushing those goals and let’s stay in touch!
Instant- or Crock-Pot Chicken Carnita Bowls
For the chicken:
• 4 chicken breasts
• 1 white onion
• 1 (or 2) jalapeno pepper
• 4 cloves garlic
• 2 oranges
• 1 lime
• 1/4 cup Mexican Coca Cola (or regular is fine)
• 1.5 Tbsp cumin
• 1 Tbsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp each salt & pepper
Topping options (see post for storing):
• White or brown rice
• Black or pinto beans
• Sweet potato
• Shredded lettuce
• Pico de gallo
• Salsa (tomatillo salsa is delicious with these)
• Guacamole or avo slices
• Sour cream or shredded cheese
Combine cumin, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub seasoning mixture on both sides of chicken breasts. Add chicken to the pot.
Coarsely chop onion, jalapeno (remove the seeds), and garlic cloves, then add them to the pot.
Squeeze the juice of 2 oranges and 1 lime directly into the pot. Add 1/4 cup of Coke. Stir gently to combine all ingredients.
In the Crock Pot: Cook on low heat for 6 hours or high heat for 4 hours
In the Instant Pot: Press “Poultry” and cook for 15 minutes.
After chicken is cooked though, remove breasts from the pot and shred them against the grain with two forks.
Optional but amazing: Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and transfer shredded chicken in a single layer. Drizzle 1/2 cup of liquid in the crockpot on top of chicken then broil in the oven on low heat for 6-8 minutes. This will create crispier ends and a well-rounded flavor. Don’t over-broil! Chicken can dry out fast.
If meal prepping, transfer chicken and preferred pairings into 4 containers (see post above for storing wet ingredients!) Pop a lid on your bowls and store in the fridge up to 5 days.