As information comes to light about the harmful effects of too much sodium, trans-fats and sugar – many people look for healthier ways to prepare meals. Although the chicken thigh is the fattier, dark-meat part of the chicken, you can cook a healthy meal of chicken thighs by making good decisions about meat preparation, cooking methods, seasonings and other ingredients.
Frying chicken thighs adds 100 calories and 14 g of fat for each tbsp. of oil, according to MayoClinic.com. Healthier cooking methods can cut down on the amount of calories and fat in your recipe. Roasting, baking, braising, broiling and grilling chicken thighs allow you to use a rack to raise the meat above its drippings. Other relatively healthy cooking methods are poaching and steaming. You can also stir-fry or sauté chicken thighs using fat-free liquids or small amounts of healthy oils.
Remove the skin from chicken thighs to decrease the amount of fat. If your recipe requires oils, avoid saturated fats, especially trans fats, by choosing lowfat cooking sprays or liquid vegetable oils. Avoid palm oil and coconut oil, which are high in saturated fats. Cook chicken thighs without using sauces and gravies since both are usually high in fat. Avoid adding more fat by not basting the meat with pan drippings.
Use fresh herbs to season chicken thighs instead of high sodium ingredients, such as teriyaki, soy sauce, prepackaged mixes and table salt. Herbs such as rosemary, thyme and marjoram add a pungent flavor. Dry mustard and citrus juices can add zest to a chicken thigh recipe, while a small amount of hot peppers can liven up a basic chicken dish. Make your own marinade with herbs and fat-free liquids such as wine or lemon juice.
Recipes and Modifications
Some recipes are designed for healthy cooking, which means the ingredients and cooking methods result in meals that are low in sodium, fat and calories. You can modify the ingredients and cooking methods for any recipe to cook healthier chicken thighs. Recipes that provide nutritional information, such as serving size, calories, carbohydrates, fat, sodium and other nutrient content, are especially helpful with modifications if you are watching your daily intake of calories and nutrients.
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Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.