A Tasty, Easy Teriyaki Chicken Bake for a Healthy Weeknight Meal
7 minute read
Chicken is one of the most versatile of all foods. There are so many ways you can cook it and so many dishes you can create.
Chicken is lean meat, which makes it a healthier option compared to red meats, as long as you cook it in a healthy way. As delicious as fried chicken is, it’s not the best for your health. Opting for grilled or baked chicken recipes will allow you to keep the flavor you love and the nutrients you need.
Why Baking Is Better Than Frying
Fried foods may taste good, but they are not good for you. Frying essentially destroys much of the nutrients of the food and adds excessive amounts of unhealthy fat to your diet.
Too much fat can result in high cholesterol as well as obesity, which increases your risk for heart disease as well as other serious health conditions. Switching the fryer for a grill or oven produces much healthier results.
The problems with fried foods can be summed up as follows.
Advanced Glycation End products
Advanced Glycation End products (AGE’s) are the results of frying foods. Foods that are deep fried are usually covered in starchy ingredients before being cooked in hot oil. This process produces carcinogens known as AGEs.
Not only does your fat intake increase, but your risk for cancer goes up. In addition to this, AGEs have also been linked to other serious diseases, such as diabetes. When you grill or bake your food, you avoid these harmful carcinogens and still enjoy a great-tasting meal.
Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Some fried foods are cooked using partially hydrogenated oils. Also known as trans fats, these oils are cheaper to produce so are used more often in cooking. Despite being cheaper and lasting longer, these oils have been linked to one out of every 5 heart attacks in this country.
Partially hydrogenated oils are dangerous for your health, as they’ve been linked to obesity, diabetes, inflammation, stroke, heart disease, and they reduce the overall effectiveness of your immune system.
Oils that are heated to high temperatures for frying foods become oxidized. Oxidized oils have been linked to several serious problems involving the heart, kidney, and lungs.
Studies have found that oxidized oils adversely affect plasma and fatty acids. They also increase your risk of hypertension, atherosclerosis, and thrombosis. By avoiding fried foods and grilling or baking instead, you’ll be removing oxidized oils from your diet, which will result in better overall health.
For every tablespoon of oil used in cooking, you add 120 calories to the meal. You also can’t use healthier oils, like olive oil, because of the hot temperatures needed for frying foods.
The result is too much fat consumption and weight gain. Obesity is known to cause heart disease, diabetes, and chronic inflammation. When you bake or grill, you can avoid these potential problems.
When it comes to chicken, in particular, it is always better to bake or grill instead of frying. Chicken is a lean protein source full of nutrients and health benefits, and you don’t want that fat and other harmful products canceling out the goodness.
As a low-fat source of protein, chicken is preferred over red meats. It is also a great source of selenium, which helps to protect against heart disease, thyroid problems, mental decline, and certain cancers.
If you are worried about losing flavor, then try using marinades or herbs instead. Many people use fats and oils to add flavor, but you can enjoy a healthier and tasty meal when you opt for a lemon juice marinade or some of your favorite seasonings.
Olive oil is healthier oil that you can use to make marinades or sauces, and rosemary and garlic are flavorful additions to any chicken meal too.
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey, (add 1/4 cup more honey if you want a sweeter sauce)
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons corn starch
For the Bake:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced large
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 cup small broccoli florets
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup snow peas, cut in half
3 cups cooked brown rice
For the Sauce:
In a small sauce pot, combine the soy sauce, honey, 1/2 cup of the water, ginger, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. While the sauce is boiling, combine the last 1/4 cup of water and corn starch in a small bowl. Whisk well and gradually pour into the boiling sauce, stirring the sauce constantly. Reduce to a simmer, and continue to stir the sauce until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the bake.
For the Bake:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil on medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until golden on the outside. Add the onion and garlic, then sauté until onions soften, which should be about 5 minutes.
2. Add the rice and remaining ingredients. Stir in the sauce until all ingredients are coated, then pour into prepared baking dish. Bake this for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through at 165 degrees and the vegetables are tender, but not mushy. Serve immediately.
The Bottom Line
As delicious as fried foods may smell or taste, they are not good for your health. Numerous health problems can result from the consumption of fried foods.
This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice great taste, because there are alternative recipes for all your favorite dishes using a grill or baking in the oven instead. Leave the fried treats at the fairgrounds and cook your meals at home with a grill or oven.