C is for………… Chicken!
Chicken is the ubiquitous food of our era, crossing multiple cultural boundaries with ease. With its mild taste and uniform texture, chicken presents an intriguingly blank canvas for the flavour palette of almost any cuisine. A generation of Britons is coming of age in the belief that chicken tikka masala is the national dish, and the same thing is happening in China with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Long after the time when most families had a few hens running around the yard that could be grabbed and turned into dinner, chicken remains a nostalgic, evocative dish for most Americans. When author Jack Canfield was looking for a metaphor for psychological comfort, he didn’t call it “Clam Chowder for the Soul.” Check out our version here.
How did the chicken achieve such cultural and culinary dominance? It is all the more surprising in light of the belief by many archaeologists that chickens were first domesticated not for eating but for cockfighting. Until the advent of large-scale industrial production in the 20th century, the economic and nutritional contribution of chickens was modest. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond listed chickens among the “small domestic mammals and domestic birds and insects” that have been useful to humanity but unlike the horse or the ox did little—outside of legends—to change the course of history. Nonetheless, the chicken has inspired contributions to culture, art, cuisine, science and religion over the millennia. Chickens were, and still are, a sacred animal in some cultures. The prodigious and ever-watchful hen was a worldwide symbol of nurturance and fertility. Eggs hung in Egyptian temples to ensure a bountiful river flood. The lusty rooster (a.k.a. cock) was a universal signifier of virility—but also, in the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism, a benign spirit that crowed at dawn to herald a turning point in the cosmic struggle between darkness and light. For the Romans, the chicken’s killer app was fortune telling, especially during wartime. Chickens accompanied Roman armies, and their behaviour was carefully observed before battle; a good appetite meant victory was likely. According to the writings of Cicero, when one contingent of birds refused to eat before a sea battle in 249 B.C., an angry consul threw them overboard. History records that he was defeated.
- A serving of 100 grams (about three ounces) of cooked skinless, boneless breast has only one gram of saturated fat and less than four grams of total fat.
- 100 grams of skinless, boneless breast has 31 grams of protein – more than half the recommended daily allowance of 46 grams of protein for an adult female.
- Chicken is naturally low in sodium. Skinless, boneless has only 74 milligrams of sodium per three and a half ounce (100 gram) portion.
- Chicken is versatile in the kitchen – Hot or cold, it’s an easy ingredient in many ready- in- a- minute meals. Chicken is also a common ingredient among international cuisines, and readily absorbs the flavours of seasonings and spices. When your recipe calls for a meat that is too costly or not available, chicken is always a reliable substitute.
How I will look after you
Chicken soup, chicken stew, chicken chilli, chicken breast on salad…chicken in almost any form is great for your health—unless you’re the chicken of course!
Here are some of the health benefits.
High in Protein
If you’re looking for a great source of lean, low fat protein, this bird is the word. The protein in chicken lends itself to muscle growth and development, and help support a healthy body weight and aid weight loss.
- Natural Anti-depressant
Chicken, like its brother fowl the turkey, is high in an amino acid called tryptophan, which gives you that comforting feeling after consuming a big bowl of mom’s chicken soup. In fact, if you’re feeling depressed, eating some poultry will increase the serotonin levels in your brain, enhance your mood, blasting stress, and lulling you to sleep. Tryptophan is also import to improve your appetite. This is particularly important as you get older. Check out our healthy Chicken Soup for the Soul which is a warming soup for all that ails you!
Prevents Bone Loss
If you’re entering your senior years and you’re concerned about Osteoporosis or arthritis, eating chicken will aid in your fight against bone loss thanks to the protein punch it packs!
Poultry for Heart Health
Homocysteine is an amino acid that can cause cardiovascular disease if levels are high in the body. Fortunately for us, eating chicken breast suppresses and controls homocysteine levels.
Plenty of Phosphorus
Chicken is also rich in phosphorus, an essential mineral that supports your teeth and bones, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system function.
Chicken also abundant in selenium, an essential mineral involved in metabolic performance—in other words thyroid, hormone, metabolism, and immune function.
Vitamin B6 (or B-complex vitamins) encourage enzymes and metabolic cellular reactions (or a process known as Methylation), which means eating this bird will keep blood vessels healthy, energy levels high, and metabolism burning calories so you can manage a healthy weight and activity level.
Rich in Niacin
Chicken also happens to be rich in niacin, one particular B-vitamin that guards against cancer and other forms of genetic (DNA) damage.
Promotes Eye Health
Chicken is high in retinol, alpha and beta-carotene, and lycopene, all derived from vitamin A, and all vital for healthy eyesight.
Essential for Healthy Tissue Growth
Many of us are plagued with chapped lips, cracked mouths, tongue sores, or dry skin in winter. However, a boost in riboflavin (or Vitamin B2), found in chicken livers, will drastically reduce your skin problems and repair dry or damaged skin.
One interesting fact
There are far too many interesting facts about Chickens so here are 5!
- Scientists have shown that mother hens display signs of empathy for their baby chicks.
- Chickens are able to remember and recognise over 100 individuals; they can also recognise humans.
- Chickens have very sophisticated social behaviour with a dominance hierarchy where higher individuals dominate subordinate individuals. This is where the term pecking order comes from!
- Chickens perform complex communication where calls have specific meanings. They perform over 30 types of vocalisation that we are aware of with meanings varying from calling youngsters, alarm calls, and alerting others to the whereabouts of food.
- Chickens are able to comprehend that when an object is taken away and hidden from them, it still exists. Young human children are unable to understand this.
And what I love to go with
Chicken is probably the most versatile meat and is used across many cultures. Here is my favourite Chicken recipe!
Kentucky Fried Chicken – Dr John Style
Chicken thighs and drumsticks.
Good quality Irish Butter.
Bread Crumbs (Use gluten free if you wish or ground nuts if you want to go really healthy).
Salt and Pepper.
Melt 25g of Butter and 3 teaspoons of Dijon in a saucepan till liquid and hot. Keep over a low heat to keep it liquid.
In a bowl blend 100g bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, salt and pepper and lemon rind from one lemon.
Put the chicken into the butter/mustard mix and coat liberally and then toss in the crumb mix till coated. Shake off excess crumbs and place on a baking tray. Once all pieces are coated bake in an oven at 180 degrees for 15 mins or till cooked.
Great as a meal with a salad or homemade turnip and parsnip fries or eat them as a “finger-licking” option during the big game!
Other C ingredients we use are: Chickpeas, Chia Seeds, Cumin, Coriander, Carrots.