Chicken - recipes full of flavor, meat full of health!
The meat that both lovers of solid meals and people on a diet reach for is chicken. Recipes with its participation are not only tasty, but above all healthy. Find out more about the nutritional value of poultry meat!
On the one hand, poultry meat is considered to be low in calories and healthy. On the other hand, there is a growing criticism of the conditions in which mass-produced chickens are kept and the impact of such farms on the environment. In addition, the Institute of Food and Nutrition in its dietary recommendations encourages to reduce the consumption of meat and replace it with fish (after all, it is meat too!) or pulses. So how to properly compose meals and which recipes with chicken to choose in order to be healthy and deliciously full?
Nutrients in poultry meat - why eat chicken?
Poultry meat is a great source of complete protein. It is worth knowing that the protein content depends on the species, breed, age, sex, farming system, diet and carcass. Interestingly, the highest protein content is found in meat from so-called crested poultry, which includes chickens. As you can guess, free-range birds are the best source of protein because they spend a lot of time outdoors and don't lack exercise, which translates into building muscle mass. Additionally, the best meat comes from young poultry because the protein content of the carcass decreases with age.
Chicken meat in comparison with meat of other animal species contains less fat. In addition, poultry is characterized by a more favorable ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids, in the case of chicken meat this ratio is 0.7. Its characteristic feature is also a high content of polyunsaturated acids (especially PUFA n-3), which make chicken is included in the list of the most nutritious meats. It is worth knowing that the composition of fatty acids contained in poultry is closely related to the species of birds and may vary depending on the feed administered. Indeed, poultry can synthesize fatty acids such as palmitic and stearic and palmitoleic and oleic from non-fatty feeds. In contrast, polyenoic acids (linoleic (n-6) and linolenic (n-3)) are not synthesized by birds and must be supplied with food.
Chicken meat is also a good source of vitamins A, D and E. However, their content in individual pieces of poultry depends on the degree of fatness of the carcass. Lean meat contains more B vitamins. On the other hand, fatty chicken contains more fat-soluble vitamins, i.e. the mentioned vitamins A, D and E. It should be added that many valuable nutrients (including vitamins) can be found in offal. Particularly noteworthy is poultry liver.
Chicken dishes also provide the body with many minerals. Poultry is a good source of easily absorbable iron, which comes from heme pigments (myoglobin, hemoglobin). Poultry meat also contains elements such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chlorine, which are involved in maintaining osmotic pressure and electrolyte balance in cells and tissues. Chicken is also a source of phosphorus, which is important for the body. Poultry meat also provides elements such as copper, zinc, manganese.
How to choose the best chicken for dinner?
In stores you will find many types of chicken, but it is worth knowing that not all meat is equally nutritious. The most popular is poultry from industrial breeding. Although the producers usually meet all the farming conditions, the quality of meat often leaves much to be desired. This is because the birds are fed in such a way that they quickly reach the desired size. Additionally, most of them have no contact with the outside world, spending their lives in small, cramped cages. These conditions cause stress to the chickens and are the reason for the spread of numerous diseases in the farm. The way to avoid outbreaks is to give the birds medication. These are not always the notorious antibiotics, although it happens that the disease requires their administration. It should be added that all medications given to the chickens are legal and permitted, but isn't it better to choose meat from an organic and nature-friendly farm? Free-range chicken carcasses have a completely different structure and properties. This is because the birds are fed feed without harmful additives, grow at a natural pace and have access to many vitamins and minerals from the grass and soil. Thanks to the choice and variety of food, free-range chickens are healthier and richer in valuable nutrients.
Chicken - recipes old and new
One of the most popular meats on Polish tables is chicken. Recipes with this meat have changed over the years. Although the fashion for oriental ingredients and modern recipes continues, it is also worth reaching for dishes from old cookbooks. Unique combinations, drawing on tradition and the wealth of regional spices are, after all, the essence of cooking. When choosing meat, it is worth paying attention to farmed chicken. Recipes with such poultry are always successful and delight with their taste. We recommend recipes such as: chicken with gooseberries and aniseed, chicken legumina with cauliflower and crayfish, homestead chicken on pumpkin in cumin and coriander, or Polish broth from homestead chicken with dumplings (check out more homestead chicken recipes at https://zagrodowy.pl/przepisy/). Dishes from old cookbooks are coming back into favor, and with them we have a chance to rediscover native culinary traditions. Even a cursory analysis of old chicken recipes shows that the common pork chop with potatoes has not always enjoyed great popularity on Polish tables.
The healthiest poultry dishes
Poultry dishes are considered one of the healthy and fat-free. There is a lot of truth in it, however, let us not forget that even the best meat, when it is badly prepared, will not be good for our body. That's why it's worth choosing good poultry (e.g. farmed chicken) and preparing it the right way. Roasting or boiling meat is a great solution. It should be noted that meat from water does not have to be boring! All you need is the right sauce or spices to turn a chicken from broth into an exquisite dish. An interesting idea is also the two-phase preparation of broth, which allows you to bring out all the flavor of meat. To do this, we need to wash and divide the chicken meat. Then we place it in the oven (baking tray slightly greased with oil), we can add vegetables. After roasting the chicken for a few tens of minutes, we put it into a pot. Add the carrots, parsley root, celery, leek, bay leaf, allspice and lovage and cook for a few hours. Add salt at the end of cooking. Delicious and extremely healthy broth is ready!
Steamed pieces of meat are also very healthy. The chicken loses the least amount of its properties during this process. Steamed meat goes well with fresh vegetables and new potatoes. The whole dish can be topped with a delicate sauce, such as pesto, which contains many vitamins and minerals. It is worth adding a slice of lemon and a sprig of rosemary, tarragon or thyme. These spices will enrich the taste of chicken and make the dish even healthier.
Chicken recipes are some of the most searched recipes on the web. No wonder, poultry is not only healthy, but also easy to prepare. In addition, recipes from many years ago, which draw on both tradition and the richness of our fields, are coming back into favor. Using local ingredients and choosing good quality meat from small farms is a great way to support small entrepreneurs, for whom quality counts more than quantity. It is worth remembering this, because thanks to local farmers and their products we can enjoy the best ingredients on our plate.