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CHICKEN


by Sara Pingel 0 Comments

I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY HENS

Chicken is a very popular food, as it can be prepared in many ways. From southern fried chicken to barbecue chicken to tandoori chicken and homemade chicken soup, chicken is appreciated by people of all ages as well as by diverse cultural culinary traditions. 

Chicken consumption is increasing as people look for ways to reduce the fat in their diets. The entire bird is consumed, often roasted whole or cut into parts. Dark meat parts include the back, legs, thighs, and wings, they are the most nutrient-dense. The white meat, the leanest part of the chicken, is the breast, which has less than half the fat of a trimmed choice grade T-bone steak. Chicken fat is also less saturated than beef fat. However, eating the chicken with the skin on doubles the amount of fat and saturated fat in the dish.

HISTORY

It is believed that chickens are originally from Southeast Asia, probably the area of Thailand. Since the domestication of chickens for the last 4000 years, poultry has been a staple item throughout much of history. From Thailand, chickens were taken to China; from there they were introduced into India, Western Asia, and finally into the African continent.

Early colonists brought chickens from Europe to the United States. In the 1800s, better refrigeration methods allowed for more widespread chicken production. Although President Herbert Hoover promised depression era Americans “a chicken in every pot”, it was only after World War II that poultry production expanded into today’s fowl popularity. Most chicken is currently produced by the United States, Brazil, the Russian federation, Mexico, Japan, and China.

NUTRITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

Chickens are a very good source of protein, niacin, selenium, and vitamin B6. It is also a good source of pantothenic acid and phosphorus.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Chicken is a versatile source of protein that is low in fat and easy to prepare. Probably the best news of chicken is chicken soup, particularly for colds. In fact, chicken soup has been shown to affect some aspects of the immune system, resulting in relief of symptoms of a common cold. According to traditional Chinese medicine, chicken in moderate amounts is good for building energy as well as supporting the digestive function. Chicken bone broth has many nutrients and minerals pulled from the chicken bones as well.

SELECTION & STORAGE

The healthiest and most humane approach is to purchase pastured and  organically fed chickens. Heritage breeds offer more nutrients as their bloodlines are less diluted.

Beyond this, your chicken selection should revolve around the freshness and visual inspection of the chicken meat to make sure it is fresh. If you spend time at your grocer or butcher shop looking at the various meats, you will begin to get a sense of what a very fresh chicken looks like.

Typically, it should look “alive,” and the meat should give a bit when gently pressed. Furthermore it should not smell “fowl” or have a strong oder. The color of the skin may vary depending on its feed intake, but it should be somewhat translucent and not mottled.

Whole chicken is generally a better choice freshness wise, for this ensures that the maximum amount of surface area is not exposed to air. Whole chickens tend to be a better choice economically as well. Frozen chickens should be fully frozen and without visible freezer burn or frozen liquid inside that may signify meat that has thawed and been re-frozen.

Carefully wrapped chicken that will not leak may be safely stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. If you cannot cook the meat immediately, it is best to refrigerate the chicken as soon as possible by taking it from its original package, washing it in cold water, patting it dry, then wrapping it tightly in freezer paper. One year is the limit on still frozen chicken. 

LET'S EAT

For me, the part I enjoy the most is the legs and thighs, skin on, bone in, with a little salt and pepper, cooked in the air fryer until the skin is crisp. 

An organic rotisserie chicken always provides a quick meal, and then the carcass makes a nice batch of bone broth. You can alway freeze the carcass until you have a few of them for a bigger batch. Spiralized daikon radish make great “noodles” for chicken noodle soup without adding unwanted grains and carbs.

RESOURCES

  • The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray ND and Joseph Pizzono ND with Laura Pizzorno



Sara Pingel
Sara Pingel

Author




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