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Chicken piccata is a traditional Italian dish that involves pounding chicken breast slices thin and lightly coating them with seasoned flour. The meat is then sautéed briefly and served with a sauce made of wine or broth, lemon juice, parsley and sometimes capers mixed into the pan drippings. The dish is typically high in fat, calories and sodium. For a healthier version, prepare chicken piccata at home with low-fat, low-sodium ingredients.
A typical serving of chicken piccata in a restaurant may contain nearly 1,400 calories, with 48 grams of saturated fat. The American Heart Association cautions that healthy adults should not consume more than 15 grams of saturated fat throughout the course of an entire day. In addition, a restaurant-style serving of chicken piccata can contain as much a 730 milligrams of sodium, an amount that is almost 32 percent of the 2,300 milligrams most people should limit themselves to daily. Each serving is also high in carbohydrates, with approximately 72 grams per entrée.
Commercial brands of frozen chicken piccata may have around 270 calories in every 151-gram serving. Of this total, as much as 66 percent -- 180 calories, or about 20 grams -- may be contributed by fat, including 11 grams of saturated fat. Frozen chicken piccata may be a good source of vitamin C, but it is also high in sodium, with about 590 milligrams per serving and 75 milligrams of cholesterol. The average adult should have no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day; eating a typical frozen chicken piccata entrée would supply 25 percent of this limit.
Traditional Homemade Recipes
According to television chef and food writer Giada De Laurentiis, a classic homemade version of chicken piccata prepared with butter and extra virgin olive oil gets 83 percent of its total 388 calories from fat - 36 grams of total fat and nearly 14 grams of saturated fat. It also contains 84 milligrams of cholesterol -- 28 percent of an adult's daily limit -- and approximately 372 milligrams of sodium. Homemade chicken piccata may have around 13 grams of protein, or 23 percent of a man's daily protein requirement and 28 percent of a woman's.
For a homemade chicken piccata recipe that contains only 191 calories, 4 grams of total fat and 1 gram of saturated fat per serving, nutrition expert Dr. Timothy S. Harlan suggests using only a fraction of the butter and olive oil called for in traditional piccata recipes. The finished dish has less cholesterol -- 69 milligrams -- and a higher amount of protein at 27 grams in every serving. ) Harlan's chicken piccata is still high in sodium, with 491 milligrams per serving, but using low- or no-sodium broth and omitting added salt can bring that total down even more.
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- Recipetips.com: Piccata or Picatta
- Food.com: Chicken Piccata - Giada De Laurentiis
- NutriSoft: The Cheesecake Factory
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Where's the Sodium?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- Dr. Gourmet: Chicken Piccata
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.
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