5 Tips for Guilt-Free, Almost-Fried Chicken
Love fried chicken? Here are our dietitian’s tips for making it as healthy as possible, while still delicious!
By: Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
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Fried chicken is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Many of us have fond memories of this home-cooked delicacy.
Although cooking techniques have improved — most of us know that frying your chicken in lard is a really bad idea — fully breaded, deep-fried chicken can still be a risky mixture of saturated fat and refined carbohydrates. There’s a better way, and it starts with the tips below. Make these changes to your favorite recipe for a healthier alternative that will still satisfy your taste buds.
“Fried chicken is one of the ultimate comfort foods, but it can still be a risky mixture of saturated fat and refined carbs. Modify your favorite recipe with these tips for a healthier option.”
Bake it instead. This means it won’t technically be fried chicken, but the tips below will help you maintain the texture with a healthier coating. Baking eliminates the saturated and trans fats that come with many oils suitable for frying — and too much of these fats can increase your risk for atherosclerosis and, subsequently, heart attack and stroke.
Use small drumsticks for small portions, or choose chicken breasts for the lean protein your body needs. If you use breasts, remember portion control is an important consideration in any healthy diet. A good rule of thumb is 4 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards. Most store-bought chicken breasts surpass this. The solution: Cut your chicken breast in half for a more reasonable portion.
I know skin makes for delicious and crispy fried chicken, but consider this: Removing the skin will save you roughly 37 percent of the calories and 86 percent of the saturated fat. That’s a big difference for your waistline and your heart.
Dip the chicken in yogurt to coat it, then lightly dust with a mixture of 100 percent corn flour and 100 percent whole wheat flour. Replacing the traditional refined wheat flours with whole grain flours provides a more fiber-rich food and may help offset spikes in blood sugar and insulin. As a bonus, mix in herbs such as oregano and rosemary, which contain disease-fighting antioxidants.
If you fear losing the juiciness of fried chicken, try marinating it before you cook it. Try adding some Za’atar to an olive oil mixture for a marinade. The thyme and sumac seed in this Mediterranean spice blend have been found to cut down on pathogens found in raw meat.
The result: Doing all of the above will seriously slash the number of calories in your fried chicken — and changes like this in a long-term diet can help you reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.