Chicken is the go-to food of many cultures; it is the most common type of poultry in the world. The birds were raised and eaten by many ancient cultures, including ancient Egyptians, ancient Greece and Rome, and documentation of chicken meals can be found in the Babylonian carvings from 600 BC.
Today chicken is used in almost every style of cuisine. In China, dishes such as Kung Pao or Lemon chicken are popular and have spread to the west; in France, coq au vin (or rooster with wine); the butter chicken of Indian and Pakistani cuisine is popular around the world; while the chicken Parmigiana, Picatta and Scallopine of Italian cuisine are restaurant standards.
Whole mature chickens are marketed in the United States as fryers, broilers, and roasters. The classification depends on the size. Fryers are the smallest size (2.5-4 lbs), whereas as roasters are the largest, and typically 6-8 lb.
The bird is resource efficient – withmost of the bird can be eaten, and moreover provides tender, high protein flesh. There is a misconception that the raising of chicken uses growth hormones, which can be harmful to human health. Contrary to popular belief, hormone use in poultry production is illegal in the United States. In the 1940’s, hormones were used to increase the amount of eggs, although this was phased out over the decade. In the 1950’s, hormones were used to increase the chicken’s growth rates, but the main hormone used DES was banned in 1959. Today, chickens are not fed growth hormones: they grow rapidly because they are bred to do so.
The benefits of chicken
Chicken is a highly versatile meat: you can bake, fry, sauté, boil or turn it into a soup. The meat is easy to cook, and its tender flesh soaks up other flavors well. The broth makes an excellent basis for many soups, including chicken noodle, the Colombian ajiaco, or the Greek avgolemono (“egg-lemon”). People usually consider chicken feet to be a wasted material, however, they are a great source of collagen, which has anti-aging benefits. Customarily, chicken feet are used in cooking Chinese soups.
Overall, eating chicken provides great nutrition through its proteins, B-Vitamins, and minerals such as selenium and potassium.
Protein: Chicken has high levels of protein (24.5 g per 100 g serving). Protein is considered the body’s worker molecules; they are necessary for virtually every cell in the body. They are also required to repair damaged tissues, replace dead cells, and heal wounds.
B-Vitamins: Chicken is high in vitamin B3, with 77% of your RDA in a 4 oz (113 g) serving. Vitamin b3 or niacin helps to remove toxins from the body and release energy from digested foods. Chicken is an excellent source of vitamin B5 (13% RDA per 100 g). This nutrient synthesizes and metabolizes proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. A single serving of chicken, 4 oz or 113 g, provides 34 % RDA of your vitamin B6. This nutrient, also called pyridoxine, permits neurotransmitter function and can help prevent heart diseases and depression. Selenium: A 4 oz serving of chicken provides 45 % RDA of your selenium. This mineral acts as an anti-oxidant in the body. It prevents hardening of the arteries and promotes healthy skin.
Risks of eating too much chicken?
Chicken skin is about half (44% fat), and so persons who opt for a low-fat diet recommend discarding the skin. The skin acts like a latex glove around the meat, soaking up any flavors, oils and juices. While this might improve the flavor of your recipe, it is not great for a low-fat diet.
Chicken is high in purines, with a chicken breast with skin higher in the compounds than meat without. A high purine diet can cause health problems including gout and kidney stones.
In many factory farms, chickens are routinely administered with the feed additive Roxarsone. While studies have found that this compound does not lead to harmful levels of arsenic in the flesh, some samples found raised levels of arsenic in a few chicken livers, although the amounts were still significantly lower than the maximum dosage recommended by the FDA. Therefore, it is not recommended that children eat more than 2 oz of cooked chicken livers per week, and adults not more than 5.5 oz per week.
Easy Chicken Recipes
- 1 portion of chicken pieces – either legs, breasts or fillets.
- 2 tbsp of soy sauce.
- 2 tbsp of gin or sherry
- Small teaspoon of white sugar or more if you are using gin
- Teaspoon of grated ginger
- One clove of crushed garlic
Add the ingredients together in a bowl, mix together, and pour over chicken breasts or legs, and marinate for at least 40 mins, but even overnight. Preheat the oven to a medium heat, 350 F. Put the marinated chicken in a baking tray and cook for 30 mins or until the juices run clear.
Simple Chicken Salad
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 head of lettuce
- The juice of a lemon
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp capers
- 2 tomatoes, chopped into quarters
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
Grill or fry a chicken breast in one tbsp of olive oil until cooked i.e. when the juices run clear. Cut the breast into small strips, removing the bones. Wash the head of lettuce and rip into bite size pieces, and put into bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the salad, and salt and pepper to taste.
Grill, not fry: Grilled chicken breast is one of the leanest sources of protein. For extra flavor, try using a low-fat marinade and grilling, rather than frying in oil.
Add veggies: Most children will prefer eating chicken to vegetables. Therefore, when cooking chicken, include veggies in your chicken recipe, such as mushroom and chicken soup or chicken salad.
Remove the skin: chicken skin is about 50 % fat. It is also high absorbent and soaks up any fat during cooking, meaning the fat content is usually higher after cooking. For a low-fat diet, remove the skin before cooking.
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