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Bock Bock, Chicken Head!



Okay, I'm a bodybuilder, so let's state the obvious: I eat a lot of chicken, like, a lot. While fancy chefs may know all the luxurious ways to cook chicken, I intend to offer a different perspective on our feathered meal staple.

Let me give you some ideas on how to fix the chick to check all the boxes: taste, quality, meal prep, nourishing the rest of the bellies in your house, freezer meals, crock pots, casseroles, grab and go... The whole she-bang. Is it 5-star Michelin cuisine? Not exactly, but it gets the job done and makes you look and feel like you yourself are worthy of 5 Michelin stars.

 

I know that not everyone reads a full blog post. So, I stuck a quick referral image right on top of this page as a free printable to keep in your recipe box or taped to the inside of a cabinet for easy referral until these protein hacks become muscle memory, because after all, it's the muscle AND the memory we're after.

 

First, let me mention that picking the right pack of chicken in your grocery store is an important step. Not all of our feathered friends are treated the same. I always have this vision of the little beaked faces behind the plastic-wrapped displays in the chilly grocery store. I see a hierarchy of social classes. From the elite wealthy spoiled organic free range entitled Snobby Chickens touted as superior because they have a special label of organic, non-pesticide hormone-injected rubbish on their pack. To those raised with places to roam in the kind-hearted, hard-working hands of farmers that look like your pappy. They roam under blue skies with space to stretch their wings unlike their jail bird cousins smooshed together in cages. The next class of birds weren't born under the best conditions and haven't grown up with the same privileged opportunities or loving homes as their higher up kin drinking the cleanest water and peeking at a variety of fresh veggies and plump worms. Their living conditions are government-subsidized and smooshed in apartments. It ain't a pretty situation, but their foster parent guardians can check the boxes that meet the government’s standards (which is a whole blog post in itself). Catch my drift on this analogy? It's important to splurge here when you can to eliminate bloat in your gut, hormonal imbalances, and any other markers that will eventually cause your blood work to go haywire, make you feel like poo, and leave you questioning what the issue could be because, even though you think you’re eating healthy lean meat, you still “are what you eat." All in all, what I’m saying is that not all poultry is created equal, and it’s important to know what you’re putting in your body. Most often, your best bet is to find yourself a local farmer who fills you in on what they are feeding their flocks and you’re aware of their living conditions. But I get it. We can't all afford that route for time and financial sake. So buy in the store appropriately.

 

Next, let's cover a few typical cooking methods that will begin your endeavor to take your poultry from the potential risky salmonella state to dancing on your taste buds. All of these things can be done without added oils and fats if you are tracking your macro nutrients.


  • crock pot

  • baking

  • boiling

  • air frying

  • poaching

  • grilling

  • smoking

 

Many chefs and restaurants will call for drizzling olive oil or butter on your protein before cooking to add flavor and help with the adherence of the herbs and spices that you use. However, let me reiterate that I am writing this article on the basis of hitting a very specific macronutrient mark for you to meet your intended daily protein goal. For that sake, I will not be suggesting that you add any additional fat sources to these cooking methods, minus a light spritz of avocado oil spray. It’s not because I’m some kind of psycho-anti-fat loon. Our bodies and brains must have fat. It keeps our organs and bones safe, gives us warmth, metabolizes our fat-soluble vitamins, supports our immune system, and so much more. Without fat, we would be zombies. Luckily, even super lean protein sources like venison and shrimp contain fat, and a meager 80 grams of chicken contains 3 grams of fat. As a visual, 80 grams of chicken breast is about the size of the inside of your palm. The average human will more than likely serve themselves 100 grams of chicken at a conservative meal and be satisfied. I’m focusing on a lean dietary protein choice for this moment.

 

So, now let's discuss just a few flavor combinations.

 

Plain Jane: This is it. This is the ticket to keeping your sanity intact, especially for busy families or picky eaters. I routinely cook two massive bulk packs of lean chicken breast in the crock pot every other week. I add zero items to the pot. I trim off any extra fat before dropping it in the machine and leaving it to do its magic. When I get home, I have a cooked-up blank canvas ready for whatever cravings are up that day. I shred or separate the meat into 1 large container for week night meals, baggies that are weighed for my lunches, and a freezer baggie of chicken to put in the freezer for safekeeping. By Thursday everyone is tired of chicken and we move on to venison or fish. From here, I can mix it up and add the spices as my family suggests. I can use it to make chicken fried rice for the kids while I enjoy lean chicken and jasmine rice with greens for my dinner. If they want chicken tacos, boom, I season it up with chili powder, pepper, paprika, cumin, etc. and make myself a taco salad or enjoy it over toasted tortillas as “tostadas”. If they want a basic broccoli, chicken, and rice meal, great! I have a plain slate to work from. I will drizzle avocado oil for added healthy fats. Or serve it shredded up with cheese over organic chore chips and salsa for “chicken nachos”.

I don't necessarily cook separate meals, but I season the plates differently per my picky eaters. The winner here is that everyone in my house of 5 eats the exact same cooked meal but each plate may look a little different based on portion size and amount of each food group.


For those themed nights:

 

Asian fair: use spice blends such as garam masala, Chinese 5 spice, Thai curry, Jamaican curry, or single spices such as cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Squeeze lemon or lime juice on your chicken and sprinkle with your spices of choice. Next, choose the cooking method. You can poach or boil the chicken in a skillet with 1/2 cup of water, a few healthy dashes of Worcestershire, and organic soy sauce or liquid amino. Add 1 tablespoon of stevia for some sweetness, or mandarin oranges. Garnish with crunchy salt, lime, mustard, or sesame seeds.

Ideas for sides: jasmine rice, buckwheat noodles, rice noodles, stir fry veggies, steamed broccoli.

 

Herb it up: Coat your chicken in fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Next, cover the meal with garlic and onion powder. Fresh garlic is best, but hey, that jarred kind definitely comes in handy. I like to air fry, smoke, or broil this seasoned variation. Once my protein has finished cooking, I add it to whatever dish I plan for the day.

My favorite herbs are dill, oregano, lavender, chives, basil, and fresh lemony thyme. Any herbs that float your boat will do. Here is also a great place to use the herbs and spices that heal whatever ailment may be triggering you in the moment. Seasonal allergies? Back pain? Muscle soreness, viruses/coldsu? Consume world of natural healing by the forkful! We we say preventative medicine!

 

Chic-fila spiff: marinate raw chicken in left-over pickle juice. Add to a baking sheet or skillet garlic, paprika, onion powder, 1 tablespoon stevia, salt, and pepper. I like to chop this up into little cubes to make little nuggets. When cooking the chicken in the skillet, you can de-glaze the pan with a little extra pickle juice. Add Sea salt and extra garlic at the end.

Ideas for Sides: air fried French fries & roasted or steamed veggies!

 

Mexican-style chicken: add lime juice to add flavor and add spices and herbs. Use garlic, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper, oregano, and cilantro.

Ideas for sides: rice, whole wheat or low carb tortillas, chips, salsa, shredded lettuce, shredded lettuce, fresh lime, avocado, black beans. Make it a taco charcuterie party for an easy weeknight meal. Let everyone pick what they want to add.

 

If I continue to add herbs and lemon, I do so after I weigh my food. But you can add it before hand if you wish. Just be sure to note that salt is heavy. So, if you are one who weighs your meals, you need to account for the weight of the mustard, salts, and spices or herbs you have added to your protein.

 

Of course, there are endless ways to fix your dinner plate to bring joy to your family and yourself, but this is a basic way to keep boredom at bay. Herbs and spices are your best friend! Once you've cooked your protein, the options continue to abound. Salads, tacos, toast and rice cake toppers, quesadillas, soups, casseroles—the list goes on and on. Chicken is life. Have fun! Season it up, be adventurous, and I highly challenge you to experiment with fresh herbs vs. dried herbs and make your own blends of your favorite combos. If you choose a blend that's premade from the grocery store, be sure to read the ingredient list and choose blends that do not contain sugars or caking ingredients.


Now, get outta here and get to work!

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