Chicken For Dieters
By andrew dimmelow
Are you concerned about the cholesterol in your diet? Are you watching calories and trying to cut down on fat? Has your doctor suggested that you consume less salt?
Then read on. The wonderful thing about chicken is that the low cholesterol and the low calorie recipes are the same. And the flavors that add spark to a low calories recipe are the same ones that can help you get along with little or no salt.
Chicken is the dieter's ray of sunshine. Except for turkey breast, no
other popular meat is as low in calories as skinless chicken breast. A 3-ounce portion of skinless broiled chicken breast has only 115 calories. An equivalent size portion of cooked lean trimmed beef would average 189 calories, and cooked lean, trimmed pork is 198 calories.
Chicken is also lowest in saturated fat compared with non-poultry meats.
Grams of Saturated Fat
Cooked 3-ounce portion skinless chicken breast: 0.4
Average cooked 3-ounce portion of chicken: 1.1
Average cooked 3-ounce portion of lean, trimmed beef: 3.4
Average cooked 3-ounce portion of lean, trimmed pork: 3.8
To avoid both fat and calories when cooking with chicken:
Choose breast meat. This is the leanest part of the bird and has less than half the fat of, for example, thigh meat.
_Remove the skin. Forty percent of the fat in poultry is attached to the skin and therefore can be easily removed. This is in contrast with other meats, where the fat is dispersed throughout the meat and not so easily removed. One point, though. If you're broiling or baking or grilling chicken, leave the skin on until you're finished cooking; otherwise the meat will lose too much moisture and become tough. The meat cooked with the skin retained its moisture and was startlingly more tender than the meat cooked without the skin.
_Roast, broil, poach, or grill chicken instead of frying it.
_Substitute low fat dairy products in recipes. Use yoghurt or light sour cream instead of sour cream, and non-fat milk instead of regular milk. To be honest, the taste isn't as rich, but if you're watching calories and cholesterol, these substitutions make a substantial difference. For example, plain low fat yoghurt is 122 calories per cup and light sour cream about 360 calories, while the same amount of regular sour cream is 440 to 454 calories. Non-fat milk is 80 to 90 calories per 8-ounce glass, while whole milk is 150 to 160 calories.
_Replace oil or fat in marinades with fresh lemon or lime juice, or with wine or vinegar.
_Broil with wine instead of butter.
_Take advantage of non-caloric pan sprays.
_If you're really counting every single calorie, you may want to choose Cornish hens rather than the older broilers and roasters. Cornish hens and broilers are young birds and they bear the same relationship to the older roasters that veal does to beef: the younger the animal, the lower the fat content. For comparison, the white meat of a Cornish is 35 calories per ounce of cooked meat; the white meat of a broiler is 45 calories per cooked ounce.
For low salt diets:
_Avoid prepared sauces such as barbecue sauce or ketchup: usually they are high in salt.
_Season chicken with foods that are naturally high in potassium, such as tomatoes, citrus, raisins or bananas. When you eat foods high in potassium, you don't miss the sodium so much. Tomato paste, by the way, is very high in potassium, and does not have as much added salt as most prepared or canned foods.
_Season foods with garlic, onion, wine and a variety of herbs and spices. Again, you'll miss the sodium less.
_Trick your palette by cooking with your own flavored vinegars. Use a cup of whichever fresh herb you can find, such as tarragon or mint or dill, for two cups of plain white vinegar and then add a garlic clove or twist of lemon peel. Store in a screw top jar for several days and if you want it really strong, leave it for a week. You might taste it along the way to see if it's too strong. Finally, strain it and pour into a sterilized bottle and seal.
_Season chicken with concentrated homemade chicken broth. Make chicken stock, boil it down until it's concentrated, and then freeze it in ice cube trays. Use individual cubes to intensify the flavor of casseroles or stir fry dishes.
After a couple of weeks of following a low salt diet, you'll find that your taste changes and that you'll actually be satisfied with far less salt. You'll even find that the olives and potato chips and peanuts that once tasted just right, now seem too salty. We've found that with salt, the less you eat, the less you feel you need but be patient because this doesn't happen overnight.
MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN BREASTS Serves 4
Fresh garlic, stored in a cool, dry place will last about as long as a fresh onion. If the cloves start to sprout, you can still use them, but they won't be quite as flavorful.
4 chicken breast halves
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry red wine
4 fresh or canned plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 cup pitted black olives, cut in half
1/4 cup minced, fresh parsley
Remove skin from chicken breasts. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add chicken breasts and cook for 5 minutes until golden, turning once. Add more oil if necessary. Stir in wine, tomatoes, garlic, basil and marjoram; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through. Uncover; increase heat to medium-high and cook 5 minutes longer or until liquid is reduced by one-third. Stir in olives and parsley; heat through.
Nutrition Figures per Serving
Calories 480. Protein 48 grams. Fat 30 grams. Carbohydrate 4 grams. Sodium 276 mg. Cholesterol 145 mg.
POACHED CHICKEN IN CREAMY LEMON SAUCE Serves 4
I'm fond of this recipe because the texture is creamy and it doesn't use cream.
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 cup lowfat milk
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced, fresh parsley, optional
Season chicken with pepper. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, combine broth, wine, lemon juice and lemon peel; bring to a boil. Add chicken; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken to a warm serving plate and keep warm.
In a small bowl, blend milk, cornstarch and mustard until smooth; stir into simmering liquid in skillet. Increase heat to medium; cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Return chicken to skillet; coat well with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.
Nutrition Figures per Serving
Calories 205. Protein 34 grams. Fat 4 grams. Carbohydrate 7 grams. Sodium 201 Cholesterol 84 mg.
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