I think it’s safe to say that if you are living a healthy lifestyle you probably have replaced your usual steak and beef dishes with chicken to reduce your saturated fat intake and reduce inflammation.
Or you may be new to healthy eating and wondering how to make healthy chicken dishes taste as good as your juicy steak meals. Well, keep reading… we’re going to cover ALL the basics of healthy low-carb chicken meals!
Real Chicken Issues
Cooking with chicken as the main attraction in a low-carb recipe can lead us to a plethora of issues. It can get dry VERY quickly if you overcook it by only a few minutes, yet it needs to be cooked totally through to ensure we don’t get salmonella. It can be tricky finding recipes that don’t leave you with a bland taste in your mouth and the worst issue of all is that every chicken dish seems to be the same. How many times have you had chicken in a mushroom cream sauce…?
Probably more than you like, and definitely more than you should. That brings us to the next topic of why people are adding such unhealthy ingredients to a normally healthy food! Chicken is often eaten drowning in a high fat cream sauce, sugar-laden barbecue sauce or saturated in a sweet and sour sauce. Having chicken in these types of sauces is turning your healthy protein packed friend into a high carbohydrate disaster! That’s probably not helping you reach
any of your health or weight goals, so what can you do about that? Let’s get back to the basics of a low-carb chicken dish…
Should There Be Skin On The Chicken?
Chicken skin can be filled with high amounts of omega-6. Unfortunately, omega-6 is an unsaturated fat that causes inflammation in the body which can eventually lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health complications.
On the other hand, the skin on the chicken can leave your dish extra juicy and with more flavor than without the skin. We think consuming chicken skin occasionally is fine as you are most likely eating a small amount of it. But don’t go out of your way to snack on it.
Who Wins: Bone-In Or Boneless?
Boneless chicken has a much quicker cooking time and preparation versus the latter. However, you may have to spend more time getting a flavorful chicken dish. Bone-in chicken contains more natural juices but takes longer to prepare and cook through.
In the end, it is personal preference on what you end up going with. Here is both a bone-in and boneless chicken recipe, try each one and let us know what type you prefer cooking with!
This spicy chicken leg is full of flavors that you and your whole family will love!
An easy, peasy, lemon squeezy (…get it?) recipe won’t have you missing the bones in this dish.
Local Vs. Supermarket Chicken
Buying locally and organic is always the better option because you are ensuring little to no preservatives or antibiotics in the chicken. Plus, if you buy from the farm down the road.
You know your chicken will taste fresh.
A butchery is another great place to buy chicken because they will have a variety of cuts and options for you to decide from. Even the butchery sections of your local grocery store have delicious tasting cuts of chicken.
If money is tight, think about buying chicken in bulk. Take out what you will use in the next week or so and freeze the rest in airtight freezer bags. This ensures you always have some to cook with when you don’t have time to go to the butchery that week.
Avoiding Dry Chicken Breasts
Don’t worry, this is a very common problem! If you prefer chicken breast over chicken thighs or legs, try marinating your chicken for 2 – 12 hours. Make your favorite low-carb marinade in the morning and pour that over your chicken in a freezer bag, baking dish or Tupperware and refrigerate while you go to work. Letting it soak up the juices will really help with keeping it from getting dry. Plus it saves you time in the evening because your chicken is all ready to be thrown on the barbecue, pan-fried or roasted in the oven.
Another solution to this dry chicken problem is to use a slow cooker. Because you are cooking the chicken at a low temperature for a prolonged period of time, it is more likely to stay juicy. Plus how great is it to come home after a long day at work and have your healthy low-carb dinner ready to be eaten?
What Low-Carb Sides Go Well With Chicken?
If you live a low-carb lifestyle, you don’t need to miss out on the rice and potatoes that normally accompany the chicken. Depending on the type of dish you want to go with, tons of low-carb vegetables compliment chicken nicely. If you’re roasting a half or full chicken, try it with some riced cauliflower, riced broccoli or riced kohlrabi. If you’re craving something fresh like a salad, try a spinach base with roasted beets – it tastes great with chicken! If you’re barbecuing your chicken, try having sautéed mushrooms and onions on the side. Want a chicken pasta dish? Try using zucchini noodles instead of a high carb option.
Adding Healthy Fats To Your Low-Carb Chicken Dish
There are tons great options to increase your healthy fat intake while eating a low-carb chicken dish. If you are having a chicken salad add some avocado – this will also give you tons of extra nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and K. If you have pasta on the mind, make it low-carb with zucchini noodles but high fat with a homemade avocado pesto sauce. Or make a Thai almond butter sauce to drizzle over your chicken and veggie stir fries!
Darker chicken meat like the thighs contain higher fat over the breast, so opt for that cut when wanting to increase your fat intake.
Avoiding Carb-Filled Sauces & Dressings
As we discussed above, a lot of the typical sauces used in chicken dishes can contain high amounts of sugar and if you are on a low-carb diet you know that’s a big no-no!
Barbecue sauce is a huge culprit to be filled with sugar. Try making your own with tomato pasta, erythritol, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke and some spices!
If you like ketchup with your chicken, a homemade version with tomato paste, vinegar, water and spices will save you tons of added sugars.
Feeling like an Asian Inspired dish? Find a low sugar option or make your own but use stevia as a sweetener to save you from all those unnecessary carbs.
Low-Carb Diets & Chicken
Chicken can be a great addition to any meal, especially if you are eating fewer carbs. It is high in protein, works well in different types of recipes and is relatively low in saturated fat. However, you may want to think about adding a little more healthy fat to your low-carb chicken dishes. Since you aren’t getting energy from carbs, balancing out your fat consumption will ensure you have nutrients to give you long, lasting energy. Consuming more fat and fewer carbs will even balance out your blood sugar so you have no dips in energy throughout the day!
Now that we covered all the basics of chicken and how to avoid a bland, dry meal. Check out these other low-carb recipes!