Chicken and turkey are significantly lower in calories and saturated fat than red meat. For example, a 3-ounce portion of roasted boneless and skinless chicken breast contains 161 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat, as compared to 351 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat for an equal portion of cooked lean roast beef.
For people with diabetes and heart disease, chicken can be the basis of a quick, nourishing meal that comes in an infinite variety of flavors. For convenience, you could keep skinless boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat, in the freezer for impromptu dinners. With the help of a grill or broiler, you can have an interesting entree on the table in a matter of minutes and there's no excuse about having forgotten "to take the meat out of the freezer" as there's no need to thaw the chicken breasts before cooking. Frozen boneless breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness will grill or broil to perfection in about five minutes per side, turning once. If not frozen, decrease cooking time by about one minute per side.
While the chicken is grilling, prepare an interesting accompaniment -- sauce, relish, salsa, chutney, topping for the chicken. Toss a big salad and slice some fruit for dessert. Dinner's ready in 20 to 30 minutes.
Favorite ways to serve a grilled 3-ounce grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast half (3 low fat protein exchanges).
- Dijon Sauce: Coarsely grate one small onion; combine with two minced cloves of garlic, 2-tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 1-cup plain nonfat yogurt. Spoon onto four grilled chicken breast halves. Sauce has 7 grams of carbohydrate and equals 1/2 carbohydrate (nonfat milk exchange).
- Grilled Tomatoes: Lightly spray four plum tomatoes with olive oil cooking spray. Grill for three minutes per side, turning once. Lightly sprinkle each with some crushed dried rosemary and crushed fennel seed. Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar and serve alongside 4 grilled chicken breast halves. A Grilled Tomato has 5 grams of carbohydrate and equals 1 vegetable exchange.
- Roasted Red Pepper Pesto: In a food processor or blender, combine two large, well-rinsed roasted peppers (they come in a jar in a salt brine) with a clove or two of garlic. While the motor is running, add 1-tablespoon olive oil, 1/4-teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper. Process until smooth. Stir in 2-tablespoons fat-free sour cream. Spoon sauce over four grilled chicken breast halves. Pesto provides 8 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of fat, equaling 1 vegetable and 1 fat exchange.
- Zesty Barbecue Sauce: In a small saucepan, saute 1/2-cup chopped onion and one minced clove of garlic in 2-teaspoons olive oil until onion is limp. Stir in 6-tablespoons low-sodium tomato paste, 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened apple juice, 1-tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2-teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2-tablespoon chili powder, 1/4-teaspoon dry mustard, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for ten minutes. Spoon sauce over four grilled chicken breast halves. Sauce provides 12 grams of carbohydrate and equals 2 vegetable exchanges.
- Melon Salsa: In a bowl, combine one peeled and finely chopped navel orange, 3/4-cup of finely chopped cantaloupe, 1/2-cup finely chopped red onion, one seeded and minced jalapeno chile pepper, 1/3-cup minced cilantro, and 1-teaspoon olive oil. Spoon over four grilled chicken breast halves. Salsa adds 12 grams of carbohydrate and equals 1 carbohydrate (fruit) exchange.
Other Ideas for Grilled Chicken Breasts
Chicken Tostada: Spritz a 7-inch corn or flour tortilla with fresh lime juice and bake at 350-degrees, until crispy, about ten minutes, turning once. Spread the baked tortilla with 2-tablespoons fat-free refried beans; top with 1/2-cup shredded iceberg lettuce. Cut a grilled chicken breast half in strips and arrange on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle with 2-tablespoons minced tomato and 1-tablespoon minced onion. Add 1-tablespoon reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese on top and serve. Count your carbohydrates. Makes 1 serving.
Indian Marinated Chicken Breasts: Before grilling, marinate chicken breasts in a mixture of 1-cup plain nonfat yogurt, one small minced onion, 1-teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2-teaspoon powdered turmeric, 1/4-teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and a dash of dried red pepper flakes. Cover and refrigerate for up to one hour. Remove breasts from marinade and grill as directed above. Sprinkle gilled breasts with chopped fresh cilantro and serve. Count your carbohydrates. Makes 1 serving.
Chicken and Asian Vegetable Stir-Fry: Cut four boneless chicken breast halves into strips and coat with a mixture of one large egg white, 1-tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, and 1-teaspoon grated fresh ginger. Stir-fry in 1-tablespoon canola oil with lots of sliced celery, chopped bok chow, some snow peas, and a julienned red bell pepper. When done, sprinkle the mixture with a little mild rice wine vinegar and serve. Count your carbohydrates. Makes 4 servings.
Chicken Caesar Salad: Before grilling, marinate two chicken breast halves in a mixture of 1/3-cup balsamic vinegar, two chopped shallots, 1/2-teaspoon crushed dried thyme, and one pressed garlic clove. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Grill as directed above and serve atop of nonfat Caesar Salad, made from a packaged mix. Count your carbos. Makes 2 servings.
Chicken Salad with Grapes: Grill two chicken breast halves as directed. Cut into bite-size pieces and set aside. In a food processor or blender, 1/2-cup low fat cottage cheese, one peeled and coarsely chopped shallot, 1-teaspoon dried dill weed, 1-teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2-tablespoon fresh lemon juice, dash Tabasco sauce, and 1/2-tablespoon olive oil. Process until smooth. Stir in chicken pieces, 1-cup chopped celery, 1/4-cup minced red onion, and 15 green or red seedless grapes which have been halved. Arrange two crisp lettuce leaves on each of two dinner plates. Divide chicken salad between plates and top each serving with a few alfalfa/radish sprouts. Serve cold. Makes 2 servings.
Dressed up or down, chicken makes a simple yet impressive, low-cost, low-calorie, low-fat entree...and that's worth celebrating!
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