While starchy carbohydrates and refined sugar taste oh so wonderful, most of us have left Carb Madness (and March Madness) behind to feel better and more energized, now that we’re turning the corner toward spring. As we quickly head into shorts-and-bare-arms season, we’re likely adding more color to our grocery carts with fresh vegetables and fruits and spending more time along the perimeter of store. But what about protein?
Healthy protein helps satiety, supports metabolism, and it’s a macronutrient we should all include with every meal. But did you know that experts say we need more than we think? This can pose a challenge without adding too much saturated fat. Also, not all protein sources are created equal. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, around 85 percent of the protein in egg whites, whole eggs, and chicken is absorbed by our bodies, compared with just 63, 72, and 75 percent, respectively, of plant based protein found in mung beans, yellow peas, and chickpeas.
Due to chicken’s lower saturated fat content per serving than beef and pork, it’s a great choice for healthier eating. Chicken is easy to cook and toss into healthy salads and bowls and easily takes on different seasonings, so the sky’s the limit for flavor. Our favorite quick meals: grilled and sliced skinless chicken, romaine lettuce, avocado, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, feta cheese, freshly squeezed lemon, pepper, and olive oil, and voila! A heart healthy salad. Or sauté skinless chicken pieces in a wok with a bit of sesame oil, onion (the aroma is wonderful), frozen peas and carrots (to cut prep time), and finish with cauliflower or brown rice, egg, and coconut aminos to satisfy your cravings for takeout.
Along with trusted standbys like salads and bowls, we offer the idea of a chicken with a twist when combined with a superfood like pomegranate arils. For those who have never tried them, pomegranate arils are sweet, tart, and fun to eat. The juice-encased pips inside a pomegranate are delicious on everything from yogurt to salads. They add luxury, interest, and more antioxidants than green tea or red wine—not to mention they’re chock-full of nutrients. Studies suggest that pomegranates can also protect the heart in many ways. While they have a relatively short growing season from September to November, shoppers can also find them pre-packaged year-round.
Pomegranate Molasses and Fesenjān Chicken
A big part of eating healthier for the long haul is keeping meals interesting, like with this Fesenjān Chicken recipe. A sweet-and-tart Iranian stew made with walnuts and pomegranate molasses, the basics include toasting walnuts and grinding them in a food processor or blender. Next, add the ground walnuts along with pomegranate molasses to make a chicken-y stew. With many recipes just an internet search away, many include spices like turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper, which all have health benefits of their own.
Cooking and Serving Suggestions
Not your run-of-the-mill barbecue, Fesenjan Chicken can also be made in a slow cooker. To make your own pomegranate molasses, simply simmer pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice, and reduce it to syrup consistency. To save time, shop for the molasses at Whole Foods or a Middle Eastern market. Traditionally, the stew is served over rice—try brown rice or riced cauliflower for added fiber.
Finally, We Wish you Wealth and Prosperity this Spring—Which Means Much More Than Money! “A chicken in every pot” was a phrase Herbert Hoover used in his 1928 presidential campaign to bring to life the idea of wealth and prosperity for every American. The pomegranate also carries much symbolism of its own, from abundance to new life. As we head into spring, many of us are seeking the feeling of renewal that naturally comes from feeling better. And, most all of us would agree, it’s hard to put a price on good health, because it’s truly priceless.
Staying present for our health isn’t always easy, and we could all use a little inspiration from time-to time. How do you stay motivated to eat better? We’d love to hear more about your own health inspired chicken meal ideas on our Pure Prairie Poultry’s Facebook page. Please share!