Affordable, high in protein and low in calories, lean chicken meat is an excellent part of a healthful diet. With only about 200 calories and about 4 g of fat per 4 ounce serving, breast meat is the leanest type of chicken meat. Coming up with tasty, healthful ways to prepare breast meat can be a challenge, but once you're familiar with some basic health-conscious cooking techniques, putting together lean chicken meals becomes much easier.
When baked in the oven, breaded chicken breast requires little or no oil, and is a low-calorie option. Roll thin breast cutlets in seasoned bread crumbs, crushed seasoned croutons, or even mashed potato flakes and bake them on a baking rack. Serve them with a salad, roasted herb potato wedges or a side of veggies.
Grilled or Broiled Chicken
Grilling chicken seals in its juices and melts off and drains away excess fat. If you don't have a grill -- or the weather doesn't allow for grilling -- broiling is a similar process, and can work just as well. To drain the excess fat during broiling, set the chicken on a low baking rack, and set the rack in a shallow baking pan. Serve grilled or broiled chicken with grilling favorites such as corn on the cob and potato salad or coleslaw made with creamy dressing, or try grilled or broiled vegetable sides such as zucchini, squash, asparagus or eggplant.
Stewing is a cooking method where meat is cooked slowly at a low temperature in a moderate amount of liquid. Stewing chicken breast meat is a great way to keep it low-fat, flavorful and tender, and the fact that stewed chicken comes with a built-in sauce makes it even better. To get the best flavor out of stewed chicken, use skinless bone-in chicken, and use chicken or beef stock, creamy dressing or canned soup in place of water. For a healthful one-pot meal, stew starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and firm-fleshed vegetables such as summer squash, zucchini, or butternut squash right along with the chicken.
Oven-roasted chicken is the definition of comfort food. Coat skinless bone-in chicken breasts with vegetable or olive oil and dried salad dressing mix before roasting to add flavor and maintain moisture. Roasted chicken is versatile; serve it with roasted potatoes and vegetables, or shred it and use it in a salad, pasta dish or veggie wrap.
Cook chicken thoroughly -- undercooked chicken can harbor salmonella, a dangerous bacteria. However, being overly cautious when cooking chicken can ruin your meal. Lean chicken breast meat overcooks easily, which can leave it dry and chewy. To avoid under or overcooking, use a meat thermometer to periodically check for doneness, and remove the chicken from the heat as soon as it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. When thoroughly cooked, chicken breast meat should be white in color and the juices should run clear.
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