Healthy Paella

A healthy twist on a one-dish meal


Recently, we had a friend stay with us for a few days. I love having company, it gives me a larger audience to cook for and new palates to challenge. I wanted to make something that would be a little exotic without scaring off anyone who isn’t quite as adventurous as I am.

I love to look to other cultures for my dishes, as different parts of the world use spices I might not normally think to use. For dinner this evening, I went through my pantry and freezer and started pulling things down to see what I had. This dish sprang into being.

Paella is a wonderful one-dish meal that you can re-engineer to make more healthy with just a few substitutions. I used chicken sausage instead of pork, brown rice instead of white and added chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs.
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It also doesn’t take a ton of time to make, so you can visit and socialize while it bakes! It’s even better the next day.


Healthy Paella

Serves 8


4 chicken breasts, cut in half
Salt and pepper
2 tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
4 garlic cloves
Large pinch of saffron threads
Large pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
2 ½ cups brown rice
8 oz chicken Andouille sausage, sliced thinly
1 can diced tomatoes, low sodium
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1 lb raw shrimp, cleaned and peeled
1 large scallion, sliced thin


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 5 or 6 quart ovenproof skillet. Add the chicken and cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, saffron and cayenne and cook for 2 minutes more. Add sausage and tomatoes. Stir. Add chicken stock and simmer over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Nestle the chicken in the rice and cover tightly with foil. Bake the paella in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees. Scatter the peas and shrimp and mix lightly. Cover with foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Take out of oven and loosen the foil and let stand for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with scallions.

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  • I do love paella. I am happy to know that there is a healthy version of it.

    Jun 08, 2012 at 4:19 PM

  • Snooth User: lazz59
    1036520 15

    Is it just me or are there a couple of steps missing? Do you pre-cook the rice? What about the rest of the mixture? Does that get added to rice and chicken?

    Jun 08, 2012 at 4:44 PM

  • Snooth User: dxstout
    512488 20

    Is the rice cooked or uncooked before being added with the chicken?

    Jun 08, 2012 at 4:50 PM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    Crap. My fault. Add the raw rice right after the onion mixture. I left out a sentence.

    Jun 08, 2012 at 7:41 PM

  • You can also substitute fish for chicken, adding scallops, crab, shrimp and langoustini or lobster eliminating the first browning step - just start with the onion. A purist would use fish stock. I don't eat red, green or yellow peppers, so I substitute carrot, zucchini, yellow squash and celery.

    Jun 16, 2012 at 1:24 PM

  • Snooth User: dollyd
    763666 4

    What size can of diced tomatoes?

    Jun 17, 2012 at 9:10 AM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    DollyD, a 14 1/2 oz can will do the trick.

    Jun 17, 2012 at 10:57 AM

  • Snooth User: swrheiner
    392514 3

    So, add the raw rice to the onion and pepper mixture, stir, then add the garlic, saffron, etc.?

    Jun 22, 2012 at 3:59 PM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    Right, the garlic won't get burned this way.

    Jun 22, 2012 at 5:18 PM

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