Archive for the tag - chicken

Is Dark Meat Unhealthy?

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 7.41.34 AMDark poultry meat gets a bad rap – but is this unhealthy reputation deserved?

First things first, dark meat cuts are the drumsticks and thighs. White meat, on the other hand, is breast meat.

There are some notable nutritional differences between the two. Dark meat certainly contains greater amounts of fat. In the case of chicken and turkey, dark meat contains 12.3 grams of fat and 10.1 grams of fat, compared to white meat with 5.7 grams of fat and 4.5 grams of fat respectively.

But this is total fat.

It’s worth noting that more than 2/3 of the fat in dark meat is heart-healthy, unsaturated fat. Moreover, fat slows down digestion and can help you feel full, longer.

hoisin-chicken-legsBut the story doesn’t end there.

Dark meat also tends to be richer in zinc, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, folate, vitamins A, K, B6 and B12, amino acids, iron, selenium phosphorus and zinc.

Though dark meat contains slightly more calories and higher levels of fat, it’s not as unhealthy as most people think. In fact, quite the opposite. With more flavor than white meat, dark meat can be a delicious and healthy part of any balanced nutrition plan.

Give dark meat a second chance.

P.S. For a simple and science-based approach to healthy (but delicious!) eating, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter!


What’s Really In Chicken Nuggets?

Hey Davey,

I’m actually a bit afraid to ask… but what’s really in a chicken nugget? I’m afraid to ask because I really like them, but maybe it’s time for me to learn the truth.


6a00d834520b4b69e20147e203ea64970bHey Ben,

While it sometimes seems better not knowing what’s in the food we eat, ignorance isn’t bliss. Once we know the truth, we can make smarter and better informed decisions about our consumption habits.

As it turns out, the University of Mississippi Medical Center did a study on fast food chicken nuggets to find out what’s really inside. By essentially performing a chicken nugget autopsy on two different brands, researchers discovered that less than half of a chicken nugget is actually meat. The remainder being a mixture of fat, connective tissue, skin, blood vessels and even bone. In fact, one of the chicken nuggets was 40% skeletal muscle.

While it’s all technically edible, it’s still pretty gross – and it’s not a healthy food choice.

According to one researcher:

Some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it, and still call it chicken. It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice.

But wait, there’s more.

McDonald’s, in particular, has stirred up controversy for including Tert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) as one of their chicken McNugget ingredients. Although TBHQ is found in some other foods like Girl Scout Cookies and Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, it’s also petroleum-based and a lot like lighter fluid. The FDA limits its use to 1 gram per 5,000 grams in cooking.

For a full list of ingredients in your favorite brand of chicken nuggets, I recommend a quick Google search. Each company has the full ingredients listed on their website. While you may not recognize many of the ingredients by name, you’ll quickly realize that most chicken nuggets have a lot more in them than just chicken.


Which Meat is Healthiest?

Which meat is the healthiest? Chicken is the obvious answer – but it’s not always true.

While organic, pasture-raised chickens are extremely healthy, most of the chickens sold in modern supermarkets are raised differently. Today’s chickens are grown with increased fat and decreased protein. In fact, according to researchers at the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at London Metropolitan University, today’s chickens contain 266% more fat and 33% less protein than chickens from 1971.

In the same way, today’s conventional cows are fattier than ever – thanks, in part, to their diets of corn and supplements. Grass-fed beef, on the other, not only tastes better – but also has improved nutritional content. Grass-fed beef has lower overall fat, lower saturated fat, an increase in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lower cholesterol and more vitamins.

Next, we must consider the cut of meat. A chicken leg, for example, has 3x more fat than a serving of London broil. Chicken legs, thighs and wings are high in fat; the breast meat is low in fat. Leaving the skin on also increases the fat content. Sirloin steaks and flank steaks tend to be very lean. If opting for pork, tenderloins and loin roasts are healthier options.

When selecting healthy meats, pay attention to how the meat was raised and the cut. If available, read the nutrition information. Though chicken often wins out, you may be surprised!

Myth: Remove the Chicken Skin.

Ask anyone what the tastiest part of a chicken is and their answer will undoubtedly be the skin. Crispy chicken skin is rich in flavor and practically melts in your mouth, but we’ve been taught and told to remove it due to it’s negative nutritional content. But is it true?

No. Turns out, chicken skin isn’t so bad.

A 12-ounce portion of skin-on chicken breast has only 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 50 calories more than a skinless counterpart of the same size. Most of us are advised to eat 16 (or less) grams of saturated fat per day, so the occasional chicken skin is certainly acceptable as a guilt-free treat. It’s not a green light to eat chicken skin with every meal, but some skin isn’t a bad thing – and it will add lots of flavor to some otherwise bland poultry dishes.

Moreover, 55% of the fat in chicken skin is monounsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are the heart-healthy fats (like that fats found in olive oil) that help improve blood cholesterol levels, decrease the risk of heart disease and benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control.

Chicken is a great, lean source of protein. And occasionally cooking and serving chicken with the skin on will help make your poultry meals more interesting and enjoyable. Bon appetit.

Simple Lentil Soup Recipe.

My mom likes to say that there is nothing sexier than a man that cooks, and I tend to agree. I’m excited to bring another post in a continuing series by my good friend and fellow Underwear Yogi, Nick Kindrick. It’s a recipe almost as delicious as Nick himself!

Hello friends in fitness.  Here in the Northeast, we’ve been enjoying some fall-like weather for the past couple of days, which has been a welcome respite from the stifling heat wave that has been this summer.  The cool and windy conditions make me think of fall, which I equate with hearty and fortifying foods.  I’m happy to share with you one of my all time favorite meals – simple, rustic, lentil and chicken soup.  Of course, if it’s 100 degrees where you live, you can still enjoy it by making some slight changes to lighten it up a little.  Either way, with the addition of a green salad, this is a highly nutritious and gratifying meal.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over for any stones or debris
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a couple sprigs of thyme (fresh or dried, but fresh would be better)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno (optional), chopped with seeds and veins removed
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 chicken breasts or thighs and legs, on the bone preferably but skin removed
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro and/or parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place the lentils, bay leaf, thyme, sweet potato, and chicken in a medium pot with the water.  If you leave the chicken on the bone, the bones will add richness and flavor to the broth, but that is not essential.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to medium, stirring occasionally.  While that is cooking, put the olive oil in a small pan and heat to medium.  Add the onion, celery, carrot and jalapeno.  Add a substantial pinch of salt to the lentils and the chicken after they’ve been cooking for a while, and  another healthy pinch to the vegetables in the olive oil.  Stir and cook the veggies until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes).  If they begin to caramelize, turn the heat to low.

When the lentils are cooked and the chicken is cooked through – somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes – remove the bay leaf, thyme and chicken, if on the bone.  Discard the herbs, and remove the meat from the bone.  Be careful as the chicken will be hot, so best to let it cool for five minutes or so.  Cut or tear the meat into bite size pieces.  It should fall right off.  Return the chicken to the soup and add the onion, carrot, celery and jalapenos (and the olive oil).

Bring to a boil once again, stir and then lower the heat.  If you’d like a thicker, stew-like soup, continue to cook, until the ratio of liquid to veggies, lentils and meat dissipates (just be careful not to burn, so stir frequently).  Otherwise, you can make this dish a little lighter, by cooking it less time, so there is a larger ratio of broth to the solids.

Garnish with the cilantro and parsley.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Most people are not aware how awesome this little legume is.  1 cup of cooked lentils has about 19 grams of protein AND they’re loaded with soluble fiber – 16 grams in that same cooked cup, which means lentils have a very low glycemic load (although the sweet potatoes alter this, so if blood sugar levels concern you, omit the sweet potato).  They’re also a great source of folate (vitamin B9, or folic acid in the synthetic form of a supplement), which is essential for cell production.  They’re also a good source of iron.  And unlike beans, lentils obviously need no presoaking time (otherwise I would have noted that in the recipe).

So toss together a little green salad and enjoy this amazingly wholesome – and delicious – meal.

Chicken and Basil Recipe.

This is the first in a series of healthy cooking guest posts by Nick Kindrick of Nick is a good friend of mine (and costar of Underwear Yoga) – and a fabulous cook to boot. Bon appetit!

It’s summer time and I have a glut of basil. Here’s a delicious, healthy recipe that will help you use up this delicious herb.

Serves 4

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 jalapenos, serranos or fresno chiles, minced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper sauce such as Sriracha
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups fresh basil, torn

Dry the chicken breasts with a paper towel and then cut into bite size chunks.  Peel the ginger (this is most easily done with a spoon). Finely chop the garlic, chiles and ginger. If your knife skills are not so great, you can also do this in a mini food chopper, along with a little bit of olive oil.

Warm a saute pan on the stove with medium to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and toss the salt on top.  Stir just until the chicken begins to brown (about 3-4 minutes). Then add the garlic, chile and ginger. Be careful not to burn this, as both garlic and ginger naturally contain sugars, which can burn easily.

After a minute or so, add the soy sauce, the chile pepper sauce and sugar. Continue to cook for 3-4 more minutes. If the pan becomes dry, you can add a little more soy sauce. Add the basil and cook for another minute, or just until the basil has wilted.  TASTE to correct. If it needs a little more salt, add another pinch.

Enjoy! If you give it a try, let me know what you think!