Chicken is one of the healthiest meats available to Americans today. It’s packed with protein and has a lower saturated fat count than other types of meat. Here are five tips and methods for preparing a healthy chicken dinner for your family that tastes great and does their bodies good.
#1 – Use the Right Pieces of Chicken
If you’re going to prepare a healthy chicken dinner for your family, it’s important to make sure you’re using the leanest cuts of chicken possible. Of course, this is the breast meat. Optimally, you should use the breasts, trim off the excess fat, and remove the skin. This reduces the calorie and fat intake, but still provides a healthy serving of protein. Although the fat and skin contain a lot of flavor, the good news is that chicken breast will carry any flavor you prefer – especially if you marinate it.
#2 – Make a Healthy Marinade
To make your boneless, skinless chicken breast flavorful, you’ll need to use marinade. Some people prefer to brine their chicken, which involves soaking it in salt water overnight. This results in chicken breast that is tender and salty the whole way through. If you are watching your sodium intake, you can make your own marinade. Fat-free Italian salad dressing is an amazing and flavorful choice. Place your chicken and your dressing into a food storage bag, mix it up with your hands, and remove as much air as you can. Let this sit for four hours or overnight before you cook.
#3 – Baked or Grilled?
Baking and grilling are two of the absolute healthiest ways to prepare chicken. Baking is simple and efficient, and while grilling takes a little more time and finesse, it also imparts more flavor. Although fried chicken is an American classic, it’s best avoided since frying oils are rarely good for you. If you still crave fried chicken, there are numerous recipes for oven-fried chicken using panko bread crumbs for some extra crunch. Just remember you should cook your chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees measured in the thickest part of the cut of meat.
#4 – Choose Healthy Sides
Now that you’re familiar with the best and healthiest ways to prepare your chicken, you’ll need to think about side dishes. Chicken and rice is a classic combination, but try brown rice or wild rice over your traditional processed white rice. These options provide more nutrition and fewer simple carbs, which can cause blood sugar spikes and weight gain over time. If you’ve decided to grill your chicken breast, put the vegetables on the grill, too. You can grill asparagus, whole ears of corn, and even cabbage – the possibilities are endless.
#5 – Practice Portion Control
Finally, once your delicious meal has been prepared, it’s important to remember portion sizes. The obesity epidemic in America is largely attributed to massive portion sizes, so keeping it in control is important. A single serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast is about the size of a deck of cards. That might not seem like much, but there’s a good formula to follow for making your plate. About 70% of your plate should be plant-based, and the other 30% can be animal foods.
A healthy chicken dinner doesn’t have to be boring. While it’s true that chicken breast isn’t as flavorful as the dark meat cuts, and it’s even less flavorful with the fat and skin, you can transform it into anything you choose depending on your cooking method and your marinade. Pair it up with some healthy, delicious sides, and you have a winning meal.