People who love cooking and eating chicken know that it is one of the most versatile meats in the kitchen. Steam it, fry it, stew it, roast it – it is delicious no matter how you cook it. Here are some tips to help you spice up the taste and up the nutritive value of your chicken dishes.
1. Use Healthy Seasonings and Marinades
To give your chicken a richer flavour, season and marinate it for up to 24 hours before cooking. For a healthier dish, use ingredients like freshly grated lemon peel, minced hot peppers, fresh herbs and infused vinegars in your seasonings. Marinate your dish in fruit juice or chicken broth and avoid oil-based marinades.
2. Use Non-Stick Skillets and Remove Visible Fats
Sautéed chicken tastes great but it can be fattening when you cook it with unhealthy oil or butter. To reduce the unhealthy fat content in your dish, use a non-stick skillet, and trim off all visible chicken fat.
3. Cooking Temperature and Cooking Methods
Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when muscle meats like chicken are cooked using high-temperature methods that cause them to char, like grilling it directly over an open flame for example. Research studies show HCAs and PAHs may increase cancer risk1.
To get around this problem, use a cooking thermometer to determine cooking temperature. The internal temperature of a whole chicken should measure about 82 degrees Celsius when cooked; the breasts should be cooked to a temperature of 77 degrees Celsius. Make sure that the chicken is not overcooked to the point it becomes charred. Neither should you undercook it. To check if yours is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the meat to see if the juices run clear and not pink. Depending on the dish you’re preparing, knowing how long to cook your chicken will vary on a case by case basis.
In general, moist cooking methods like steaming are healthier than dry cooking methods like grilling. Dry cooking methods produce Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), which increases risk of chronic diseases like diabetes2.
Try these tips the next time you are cooking up a chicken dish to create a more flavourful and healthy twists to that chicken dish of yours.
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- Sinha, R. et al. (2005). Meat, Meat Cooking Methods and Preservation, and Risk for Colorectal Adenoma. Cancer Res, 65(17), 8034-41.
- Uribarri, J. et al. (2010). Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods and a Practical Guide to Their Reduction in the Diet. J Am Diet Assoc, 110(6), 911–16.