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. Because of its low fat content, it’s the only meat I ever serve Frank, and it’s the only meat he ever asks for in restaurants.
_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. I’ve watched tests done at the Perdue Tenderness Laboratory in which they measured the tenderness of breast meat roasted with the skin and without the skin. 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 (use the recipe on page ___, but omit the salt), 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.
For that matter, a preference for low fat cooking may not happen overnight either. In fact, to level with you, I think that in most cases it won’t happen overnight. If you’re not used to the low fat substitutions for rich sauces and gravies, some of the recipes in this chapter may seem downright Spartan to you the first time you try them. But once you’re used to them, you may find as Frank and I have, that with time it’s not only possible to get used to lighter cooking, it’s actually possible to prefer it.
Chicken Recipes – The Perdue Chicken Cookbook
Copyright (C) by Mitzi Perdue – Used with Permission