Cooks Exchange

Slimming down for swimsuit season? Try these chicken recipes

Grilled chicken breasts make for a lower calorie, healthier choice in the leadup to swimsuit season.
Grilled chicken breasts make for a lower calorie, healthier choice in the leadup to swimsuit season. MCT

Bathing suit weather is already here, but some people may still be trying to lose a few pounds.

Foodies know this struggle. Meals need to be lighter and less caloric or with fewer carbohydrates, but food still needs to taste good. After all, food should be enjoyed, not choked down.

One way to do this is to call on the old standby, chicken — spring chicken, if you will. After dropping some pounds, you may feel like a spring chicken.

No, there is no fried chicken, but there are flavorful ways to grill or bake skinless chicken pieces.

When I debone and skin chicken, I have several pairs of eyes staring up at me. The dogs and cats keep praying I will drop a piece of skin. They love the fatty stuff — but can’t have it because it isn’t good for them, either.

Get smart; start with planning out a menu for the week. Take a couple of these chicken recipes and pair them with favorite side dishes, and no, not the ones dripping in fats or sugars.

The weather has been so nice that dinner from the outdoor grill should be a weekly or twice-weekly event. I like to grill more chicken breasts than we need and save the extra for a different meal later in the week.

My family prefers breasts to other chicken parts, but if your family likes thighs and drumsticks, go for it. Today, I offer kid-pleasing crispy drumsticks that can be served with steamed broccoli with a lighter cheese sauce and an apple salad.

When grilling chicken, make vegetable kabobs to accompany the chicken. If you have a family like mine that loves starches, make rice to serve as a bed for the kabobs.

Wrong ingredient

Carolyn Radley was excited to see her recipe in print, but it contained a wrong ingredient. She shared her recipe for coconut pie that contains Jiffy baking mix, not Jiffy cornbread mix. Check out her corrected recipe. She says it is a good one.

Reminder: Check those files

One reader wants the chimichanga with brown sauce served at the old Toucan’s in Gulfport and the seasoning and sauce for the Steak-Out steak burgers.

Another wants some of the Cajun and Creole recipes from the old Frenchies in Ocean Springs. He ate there in the 1960s.

What’s up for Mother’s Day?

Readers, let’s make Mom’s Day a day of favorites with Mom’s or Grandmother’s favorite foods. Please share those recipes with me. Time is short, so respond quickly.

Now, for that lightened-up spring chicken.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and Cooks Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

SESAME-GINGER CHICKEN

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons peeled, grated ginger root

4 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves

Vegetable cooking spray

Thin green onion strips, optional

Combine first four ingredients in a small bowl; stir well, and set aside.

Place chicken between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap and flatten to  1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. (Great stress reliever!) Chicken pieces cook more evenly if they are the same thickness.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray and place on grill over medium-hot coals. Place chicken on rack; grill 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until done, basting frequently with the soy sauce mixture. Transfer chicken to a serving platter; garnish with green onion strips, if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

From ‘Low-Fat Ways to Cook Chicken’

Nutritional data: Per serving: Calories, 186; fat, 4.2 grams (1 gram saturated fat); protein, 26.6 grams; carbohydrate, 9.7 grams; cholesterol, 70 milligrams; sodium, 304 milligrams.

CRISPY DRUMSTICKS

1/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon dried whole marjoram

1/8 teaspoon dried whole thyme

1 tablespoon skim milk

8 chicken drumsticks, skinned (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Vegetable cooking spray

Combine first five ingredients in a shallow dish; stir well. Combine egg white and milk in a small bowl. Dip each drumstick in milk mixture; dredge ins breadcrumb mixture.

Place drumsticks in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until done. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutritional data: Per 2-drumstick serving: calories, 196; fat, 5.8 grams (saturated fat, 1.5 grams); protein, 28.7 grams; carbohydrates, 5 grams; cholesterol, 89 milligrams; sodium, 152 milligrams.

From “Low-Fat Ways To Cook Chicken”

APPLE SALAD WITH MAPLE DRESSING

3 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon reduced-calorie maple syrup

1 teaspoon skim milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 lettuce leaves

2 cups coarsely chopped apple

Combine first five ingredients in container of an electric blender; cover and process until smooth. To serve, line salad plates with lettuce leaves. Spoon 1/2-cup apple onto each lettuce leaf; top with syrup mixture. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutritional data: Per serving: calories, 65; fat, 1.2 grams (saturated fat, 0,6 grams); protein, 1.8 grams; carbohydrate, 12.6 grams; cholesterol, 4 milligrams; sodium, 19 milligrams.

From ‘Low-Fat Ways to Cook Chicken’

CHUTNEY CHICKEN SALAD

2 tablespoons chopped almonds

Vegetable cooking spray

1 1/2 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts

1 cup diagonally sliced celery

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1 (9-ounce) jar commercial mango chutney

6 cups loosely packed romaine lettuce

Place chopped almonds on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until toasted; set aside. Do not let burn or you will have to start over.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; pace over medium heat until hot. Add chicken; cook 7 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet, and cut across grain into thin slices.

Combine almonds, chicken, celery, onions and chutney in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Spoon chicken mixture onto individual lettuce-lined plates. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutritional data: Per serving: calories, 259; fat, 4.7 grams (saturated fat, 1 gram); protein, 28.6 grams; carbohydrate, 25.5 grams; cholesterol, 72 milligrams; sodium, 159 milligrams.

From ‘Low-Fat Ways to Cook Chicken’

Note: I like to add 1/2-teaspoon curry powder to this salad. Chopped apples and raisins also are good additions.

ZESTY GARDEN CHICKEN POCKETS

1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked chicken breast (about ¾ pound) skinned, boned breasts

1/2 cup coarsely shredded carrot

1/2 cup diced celery

2 1/2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons commercial reduced calorie Italian dressing

1 6-inch whole wheat pita bread rounds, cut in half crosswise

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl; toss. Combine yogurt and dressing; add to chicken mixture and toss. Cover and chill. Spoon ½ cup chicken mixture into each pita half. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutritional data: Per serving: calories, 155; fat, 2.8 grams (saturated fat, 0.8 grams); protein, 21.1 grams; carbohydrates, 9.2 grams; cholesterol, 55 milligrams; sodium, 232 milligrams.

From ‘Low-Fat Ways to Cook Chicken’

COCONUT PIE

(Corrected recipe)

Mix the following ingredients together as called for.

Mix 2 cups milk

3 tablespoons melted butter

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 cup Jiffy baking mix

3/4 cup sugar and

1/2 cup coconut

Pour into a greased with butter 9-inch square dish. Let stand for 10-15 minutes. Spread with  1/2 to 3/4 cup coconut.

Bake at 325 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until set.

Submitted by Carolyn Radley

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