I have reviewed a lot of diet menus lately and I have noticed that most serving sizes call for 4 ozs of protein (beef, chicken, fish or pork, etc).
Initially when affronted with the seemingly small serving size of 4 ozs, I felt gyped. Four ozs! That seems so small. In a world where we are conditioned that bigger is better, where mammoth sized burgers are the standard, where buckets of chicken and racks of ribs are the norm, 4 ounces seems so…well, puny.
However, if you are like me and like to eat mountains of food, the best way to do so may be the following. I have found that combining those few ounces of animal based protein with tons and tons of non starchy veggies makes an extremely filling, low carb, low-calorie and healthy meal.
First off, we have to figure out what four ounces looks like. Without getting involved with measuring cups, scales and the like, I’ll make it easy for you. Most meats, chicken, fish, etc. are sold by the pound. All you do is buy 1 lb of your whatever meat you want and take it home. Once you are home, simply lay it on a cutting board and cut it in half. Then, take that half and cut that half in half again. Voila! Four 4-ounce portions ready to cook. Don’t worry if it is not exact. The food police will not come and arrest you. Wrap the other 3 pieces up and freeze for another time.
Saute 1 pound (or more) of your favorite non starchy vegetable (broccoli, string beans, spinach, asparagus, etc) with a little garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, pepper etc. and add your newly measured, sliced or cubed 4 ounces of protein and stir till cooked through.
Depending upon your taste, I like to add a tiny amount of chili paste, sesame oil, chopped onion, chopped celery, diced water chestnuts, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
Consume the entire mountain of food – guilt free.
Making a mountain (of healthy yummy veggies) with a molehill (of your favorite meat) is the perfect way to eat till you are stuffed without feeling cheated.
“What am I going to do with this chicken?” I asked myself as I plunked down $24.00 (!) for a whole fresh raw chicken. I was on my way to drop off my kids to basketball practice when I happened to stop at the local farmers market and haphazardly decided to buy a raw organic fresh chicken from the “chicken lady”.
Although I have yet to read Michael Pollan‘s bestseller “The Omnivores Dilemma“, nor have I fully embraced the Locavore movement, I am tip-toeing towards the greener pastures and trying to see for myself what all the fuss is about. I have started shopping at our local farmers market and have started stocking up on locally grown produce and fresh-caught seafood. However that is as far as I had gone. I had yet to try any of the locally grown fowl or meat.
One of my friends, a french chef, swears by this market, especially the poultry. “Ma cherie, eeet eeez zeee beeest cheeeekin, zooo meeest try eeet!” she urged me to try.
Approaching the white tents at the market where the fresh fowl and beef are sold is a bit intimidating. There is no “selection” on display nor any showcase. You have to purposely approach the “farmer” and ask them to see their wares. Once you ask, they respond by asking you how many lbs, and then the discussion goes from there. As I am more accustomed to buying my chicken already cut and fileted, I had a hard time discerning how big of a chicken I should buy. I timidly asked “ummmm, how much is a chicken?” to which the she-farmer nodded to the A-frame sign next to her displaying the price list. The price list was short. She only sold Chickens and eggs. She charges $4 bucks for a dozen eggs and $4.50 PER LB (!) for the chickens. She then proceeded to dramatically open the cooler sitting on the table for me to make my choice. Not wanting to offend her by NOT buying and “chickening out” of the purchase, I blindly pointed to the one in the middle. “I’ll take that one.” Based on the amount I paid, I think my chicken was a little over 5 lbs.
As I had a myriad of errands to run while my boys were shooting hoops, I had no desire to lug around a 5.5 lb raw chicken with me all day. I asked the woman if she would be kind enough to “hold my bird” for me in her refrigerated cooler for a couple of hours while I finished my errands. She said “no problem” but warned that she would be fleeing the coop around 3:00pm. I immediately turned to both of my kids and instructed them to remind mommy to pick up the chicken on the way home, if I forgot. They both dully nodded and repeated “remind mom to pick up the chicken on the way home.”
I ran all of my errands and ran to pick up the boys from practice. My older son won his game and we decided to celebrate and have an early dinner at the local diner. While we were sitting there, I glanced at my watch. It was 5:15. I jumped up. I forgot to pick up my chicken! I immediately laid blame on my boys scolding them for NOT reminding mom to pick up the chicken. “I can’t believe I wasted $24 bucks on a stupid chicken!” I whined to my family.
“Maybe she will still have it next week,” my older son responded hopefully, trying to placate me.
“I doubt it”, I shot back, annoyed at myself for forgetting.
The following Saturday, I approached the chicken lady at the farmers market and said brightly, “Remember me? I was the one who bought your chicken last week and asked you to hold it for me.” Luckily she remembered me and said. “Of course, here it is.” I was too embarrassed to ask her if this was indeed the same bird or not.” She handed me a sheet of paper and suggested that I try their super easy recipe for “Perfect Roast Chicken”.
The recipe could not be any simpler. All you do is rub the bird with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper on the skin and roast at 450 degrees – 20 minutes per pound. Thats it. I chopped up a cauliflower, tossed it with some chopped garlic and olive oil and threw it in the roasting pan with the chicken the last 1 hour.
An hour and a half later, I pulled my lovely roasted chicken out of the oven. I let that baby rest for 10 minutes and proceeded to carve it the best I could. It was sooooooooo good! It was tender but not super soft and tasteless like the supermarket variety. This chicken was “more meatier and more chickeny”. It has been so long since I had a fresh organic chicken that I almost forgot what REAL chicken (not mass produced and full of chemicals) tastes like.
My younger son devoured the leg and thigh. My older son, said “Yum, mom, This is so good. It tastes just like….turkey.”
“TURKEY!!!!????” I felt like shouting across the table. This was not turkey. This was C-H-I-C-K-E-N. However, rather than go into a whole diatribe about how this was a FRESH, ORGANIC chicken, not the overly processed supermarket variety we usually eat, I just calmly replied, Well, it’s really chicken. To which my son replied helpfully, “A turkey-chicken?”
Yes, sweetheart, A turkey-chicken. Whatever. At least they finished their plates.