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Spicy Holy Basil Chicken

simple, hearty chicken recipe

Summer schedules are winding down, and many of us are getting back into a more full routine with school days, sport, music, or arts practice in the evenings and homework.

All of this added activity can cut into the time we’ve used over the slower summer months to prepare a healthy evening meal for the family. But, family meals don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to prepare. We can make quick, healthy dinners in about the same time it would take to order and pick up take-out.

Here is a simple, hearty chicken dish that tastes great and can come together quickly on a busy weeknight. And, it has the added benefit of an adaptogenic herb – tulsi – to help increase our resistance to, and reduce stress (1).

Here are some health benefits of this simple, hearty chicken dish.

Chicken breasts are low in calories and fat and high in protein. Consuming chicken protein can help supply the body with the building blocks (amino acids) it needs to build tissue like muscle, bone, and skin as well as the enzymes that enable chemical reactions to occur in the body (2). Chicken breast also contains micronutrients like vitamin B3 (niacin) required to catalyze the reactions of hundreds of enzymes in the body for proper function, and vitamin B6 which is necessary for protein metabolism, hemoglobin formation, and immune function (3) (4) (5). Chicken meat also provides minerals like selenium and phosphorus which are important for thyroid function, reproduction, DNA synthesis, and energy production (6) (7).

Holy Basil (tulsi) (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is a plant used for stress and metabolism as it balances the hormone cortisol (8). Used as a calming adaptogenic herb, holy basil can lower blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and decrease inflammation (8). Nutritionally, holy basil provides many nutrients like vitamins A and C, to support cell growth, immune function, and vision as well as collagen formation and antioxidants to protect body cells from free radical damage (9). Holy basil also contains minerals like zinc which is involved in cell division, wound healing, and immune function, and iron which is necessary for muscle metabolism, cell function, hormones, and providing oxygen throughout the body (10) (11).

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a plant related to the onion, shallot, and leek, that contains the organic sulfur compound allicin which can inhibit the growth and spread of harmful bacteria and fungi including antibiotic-resistant strains like MRSA (12). Garlic consumption can increase our nutrient intake as well, as garlic contains many micronutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin C, and minerals like manganese and selenium (13). Garlic has been found to reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) improving blood lipid (fat) levels and cardiovascular health (14).

Spicy Holy Basil Chicken Recipe

3 tbsp. avocado oil
3-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
2 large chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tbsps. organic tamari soy sauce
1-2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (for less spicy leave this out)
1 tbsp. holy basil (tulsi) powder
2/3 cup water
Garnish with black pepper and fresh basil


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the chicken cubes and cook (stirring) until no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, tamari, holy basil, and red pepper flakes. Add the water and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

This spicy holy basil chicken pairs well with quinoa or wild rice and can be served with a green salad.

You can learn more about how adaptogenic herbs like holy basil (tulsi) can help reduce stress in our “Stress Reduction with Herbs” blog post.

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