Putting poultry power to work!

White meat: 245 calories per 4 ounces
Dark meat: 285 calories per 4 ounces

Before, a chicken in every pot was a symbol of prosperity. Today, it’s a symbol of health.

Chicken is high in protein, iron, niacin, and zinc. If it’s your heart that concerns you most, chicken has a fat and sodium profile that is favorable for both blood cholesterol and blood pressure. (Of course, those on every strict low-sodium diet need to consider the 100 or so milligrams of sodium in a 4-ounce serving).

Best of all, chicken is ideal for a low-calorie diet. In fact, chicken breast has the distinction of being the lowest in fat and calories of any chicken part. And it’s the best-tasting part of the chicken, too.

You don’t have to pass up the rest of the chicken, though, if you’re concerned with fat and calories. These two gremlins lurk primarily in the skin and pads of fat located just below it. Remove them and you’re cooking with lean and nutritious food.

At the market: At peak freshness, chicken is plump and firm. The skin looks moist and has a creamy white color. Fresh chicken should have no coarse pinfeathers and no odor.

Kitchen tips: Store chicken in the coldest part of the refrigerator, wrapped in waxed paper for one to two days. To freezer, wrap as airtight as you can with freezer paper, you can then freeze it for up to six months. If you also have the giblets, store them separately from the rest of the chicken.

Although skinned chicken is healthiest, you wait until after cooking to remove the skin. This helps to keep the flesh moist. And after handling chicken, make sure you take a minute to wash the knife, cutting board, and your hands with hot, soapy water to get rid of any bacteria that have been present in the meat.

Accent on enjoyment: Boneless, skinless breasts (chicken cutlets) are the lowest in fat and calories. They can be poached, sautéed, stir-fried, or microwaved. We like to marinate them in olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano, then grill or broil them and serve them with hot pasta.

What a difference the skin makes!

If you forgo the chicken skin, you will save on fat and calories. And you can’t use the vitamins and minerals as an excuse for eating it, either. The amount of certain key nutrients is about the same whether you eat your chicken skinned or unskinned.*