Eating healthy requires making some positive lifestyle changes that aren’t that difficult to make. In fact, just about anyone can make their life over with some simple tips designed to improve health, promote healthy eating and foster a love of good, healthy eating. Chicken, in fact, is one of the simplest foods you can make almost anything with and still have a healthy meal. It’s lean and packed with protein, and it is delicious no matter how it’s cooked. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t mess up chicken, because you can. Even your favorite chicken recipes can be completely ruined if you’re not careful.
What are we talking about? We are talking about how you handle your chicken, how you store it and how you cook it. When you aren’t handling, storing and cooking your chicken correctly, you are running the risk of turning your favorite chicken recipes into something less than healthy in a number of ways. We’re going to teach you how to make sure your favorite chicken recipes are as healthy as possible.
Storing Uncooked Chicken
Did you know that if you do not properly store your chicken, it might not be considered healthy anymore? It’s true; the way in which you store your chicken could have very adverse affects on the health of your family when they go to eat it. All chicken should be stored in the coldest part of your fridge in its original packaging when purchased. If you do not plan on using the chicken within 48 hours, you should stick it in the freezer.
When you store your chicken in the proper packaging – either what you purchased it in or a really good covering of saran wrap and foil – you can freeze chicken up to a year in the freezer. Just make sure you don’t thaw it and then freeze it over and over again because that will allow bacteria and other unhealthy things to begin growing in your chicken – and that’s far worse than just about anything else that could go wrong in the kitchen.
Do not thaw your chicken in the sink or on the counter! Thaw it in the fridge. You’ll need 24 hours to thaw your chicken to ensure that it’s ready to cook and healthy. Chicken should not be thawed anywhere that it can turn room temperature, as they can cause bacteria and other harmful things to begin growing on your chicken, making it unhealthy and disgusting. Your family could become very sick when you make your favorite chicken recipes with chicken that’s been room temperature.
When Working with Chicken
You might think that you have some healthy chicken tips when it comes to working with it in the kitchen, but we bet you make a few mistakes here and there. Do you wash the counter after you place chicken on it? You should; and you should use a towel that’s disposable that’s thrown immediately into the trash so that you don’t run the risk of transferring germs all over the kitchen.
Wash your hands immediately after handling raw chicken and handle nothing in between. This means not even the faucet on your sink. Use the back of your hand or the back of your arm to turn on the water when you need to wash hands that have handled raw chicken. Wash anything that has touched raw chicken thoroughly so that you don’t spread chicken germs and potentially salmonella.
Don’t reuse items that have touched raw chicken. How many times have you accidentally used the fork you grabbed raw chicken from the package with to flip chicken in a pan when frying or sautéing it? That is one of the least healthy, least sanitary practices in the kitchen. The same goes for carrying meat outside to the grill. The plate or pan you use to do this should be washed after you carry raw chicken outside before you use it again to carry cooked chicken back inside.
Cooking Chicken the Healthy Way
Now that you know how to keep your chicken healthy before you get to the cooking process, you should learn how to make your favorite chicken recipes as healthy as possible. It’s really not that difficult to make chicken that’s healthy and nutritional, but some people forget that it’s so simple. They consider chicken good only if it’s lathered in unhealthy ingredients and cooked in a way that’s far from healthy. Fortunately, we have some quick tips that will make your next chicken dinner as healthy as possible.
For starters, it’s time to stop frying your chicken. There’s no need to fry it – because you know it’s unhealthy – when there are so many alternative methods to cooking this meat that are equally delicious, less fatty and far healthier. Grilling and baking chicken are two great options. You can get just as much flavor without all the added trans fat from the frying process and the oil you are using.
Secondly, breading is not your friend. Sure, breaded chicken is delish, but there are other ways to make delish chicken that have no breading. For example, why not place a few pieces of chicken on top of a few lemon slices on foil, cut a few cherry tomatoes in half and toss them in the same pan, sprinkle a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper on top and then mince some fresh garlic to finish it off and then bake it until it’s done? The flavor, we assure you, is going to knock your socks off, and you didn’t even have to use anything unhealthy to make it happen.
Go skinless and boneless with your chicken. Breasts are leaner and healthier when you go this route, and the minimization of the fat on the chicken makes it healthier for you to consume. While skin is certainly flavorful, it’s fattening, and you don’t want to deal with that when you could just enjoy something healthier and a lot more decadent – without the waistline worries.
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