Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with @prosticks2go skewers, olives, leeks, artichokes, homegrown kale, homemade tomato sauce and homemade ricotta! 

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

In this lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas feasting, we've run out of the luxury that is leftovers. My family, in general, actually looks forward to this break because we know that all too soon we'll be spending a full week in the kitchen preparing for three full days of company and eating at the end of December followed by a month of leftovers (I'm not in charge of purchasing, but those who are chronically overbuy). At any rate, it's starting to get blustery outside too, which demands meals that are hearty, comforting, flavourful and nutritious. Knowing that full one-dish meals are prepped and ready to heat in the fridge means less chance of pizza or Chinese take out after a day of shopping or grabbing fast food out at the mall.

Of course, just because something is homemade doesn't mean it can't utilize a few shortcuts. I was approached by Expresco a few weeks ago and asked if I could review a new, health-conscious, on-the-go snack food of theirs called ProSticks.

Prosticks Package

ProSticks are an ideal protein-laden nibble for people out and about who only have access to a convenience store for a quick bite. Three flavours of marinated chicken breast on skewers are available (chipotle, sriracha and Mediterranean), and each package comes with a packet of dipping sauce. I was a bit confused as to the pairing of teriyaki sauce with the souvlaki-tasting Mediterranean chicken, and upon tasting the dipper I discarded it - it was simply too sweet and did not work well with the more herbaceous protein. The chicken, on the other hand, tasted like cold souvlaki. It was tender and moist, although the meat clung to the skewer so tightly I had to resort to a knife to disengage it. I was also a little thrown off by the shape of the meat on the skewers - the company promotes the snack as being made with "whole muscle" meat, but I've never seen chicken breast this irregular. I've also never been able to get such clear grill marks on skewered chicken, but I'll give the company the benefit of the doubt and communicate to you what they promise - minimal processing.

Mediterranean Prosticks

Here are photos of the back of the package, depicting the ingredients and nutritional information of a packet of Mediterranean ProSticks. Bear in mind that the NI applies to the whole package of meat and sauce - I'm willing to bet the majority of the salt and sugar listed is in that teriyaki dip. However, if you enjoy sweet sauces, bear in mind that 200 calories for a relatively small snack is quite a lot - it is best as a supplement to a light meal such as a salad or soup. There is no indication of any top allergens in the ingredients (except soy in the sauce), but I confirmed with the company that they cannot declare these "gluten free" as their facility processes gluten-containing items. In addition, if you're planning on eating these on the road, you'll want to pack a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to open the plastic. There is a "convenient" tab in the corner marked "open here", but try as I might pulling that corner did nothing to unsnap the box. The plastic is rigid - great for protecting the meat inside (does it need protection?) but frustratingly sharp to get past, and inversely the compartment for the sauce is made of flimsy, crushable plastic perfect for squirting sticky liquid over your backpack. I would suggest the company reverse the two packaging constructs.

Prosticks Ingredients

Prosticks Nutrition

Obviously these skewers are meant to be eaten on-the-go, as is, but I couldn't help but see how versatile they could be too. With the herby, souvlaki-esque Mediterranean variety as my inspiration I set about making a pasta dish echoing similar flavours: artichokes, black olives, leeks and kale along with a jar of homemade Homegrown Tomato Sauce from last year and a cup of homemade ricotta. A bowl of this is hearty, stick to your ribs and full of nutrition. If you can't access ProSticks (currently they're in 7/11 stores in Ontario as well as some Sobeys) roasted chicken breast (or leftover souvlaki) works too.

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta
Serves 8
2 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks finely sliced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups frozen chopped kale, thawed and squeezed dry
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (14 oz) can black olives, drained and chopped
½ cup dry pack sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 cup no salt added tomato sauce
3 pkg Mediterranean ProSticks (without sauce) or 10 oz cooked chicken breast, cubed
12 oz penne, cooked al dente (I used Barilla GF)
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the leeks, celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until leeks and celery soften.
  3. Add kale, artichokes, olives, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook 1 minute, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the ricotta and tomato sauce, followed by the chicken.
  5. Add the pasta and fold through, adding some of the pasta cooking water to thin if necessary.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 347.9
Total Fat: 10.8 g
Cholesterol: 31.5 mg
Sodium: 273.1 mg
Total Carbs: 46.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.2 g
Protein: 17.4 g

Official ProSticks Press Release:

Montreal, QC, Canada  (September 29, 2017) – ProSticks, the latest creation from Expresco Foods, is the optimal snack on the go. Crafted with 21 grams of protein, these tasty grilled chicken-on-a-stick refrigerated snacks with sauce packs define convenience. ProSticks are hand-made, grilled to perfection and provide the ultimate in portability. At 115g and a suggested retail price of $2.99, they are a protein-packed snack full of quality consumers can trust.  

The snack food industry is growing at a double-digit rate, and the trend is expected to continue – with protein being the most sought after ingredient. Snacks packed with protein offer a wide range of benefits aimed at fueling the everyday active lifestyle.

ProSticks delivers a wholesome, satisfying and savory snack that is free of preservatives. Street food-inspired skewer flavors and sauce pairings include: Mediterranean with Sweet Teriyaki sauce, Sweet Sriracha with Sriracha sauce and Chipotle with Chipotle BBQ sauce.
Look for ProSticks at Sobeys stores and selected institutional foodservice cafeterias in Ontario.

“ProSticks are ideal for grab and go consumers looking to power up with a quick, cleaner label, high protein snack,” shared Pam Salzman, Director of Marketing and Communication. “Consumers are craving purposeful meal replacements and snacks that can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime. Snacking is no longer a trend, it’s a way of life.”

About Expresco Foods

For over 30 years, Expresco Foods has been committed to creating top quality, portion controlled, value-added convenient meal and snack solutions. Expresco’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit has guided the development of fully cooked grilled protein products, frozen and fresh for foodservice, retail and deli across North America. Visit for more information.

Disclaimer: I received vouchers for free product from Expresco (ProSticks) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I did not receive any monetary compensation in accordance with my review and sponsorship terms

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