September is National Chicken Month … a great time to celebrate this versatile, economical and flavorful protein choice in your family meals!
But … before you starting cooking, here’s a bit of chicken trivia to share around the dinner table. Did you know. . .
- The average American eats over 80 pounds of chicken each year, more than anywhere else in the world.
- In Gainesville, Georgia, the so-named Chicken Capital of the World, it’s against the law to eat chicken with a fork. Chicken is finger food!
- Chickens were first domesticated in Southeast Asia at least 4,000 years ago.
- When cooked chicken reaches 165°F, as measured using a food thermometer, it should be safe to eat.
- Chicken is the top protein source in the United States.
Chicken: A Lean Protein Choice
Chicken provides protein -- and much more! As you commemorate the month, celebrate the many other ways chicken delivers good health to your family table:
- High-quality protein. Three ounces of chicken have about 25 grams of high-quality protein, the essential building blocks of bones, muscles, skin and blood, essential for growth and for cell repair at every life stage. Protein is also a source of food energy!
- Naturally low in fat. Without the skin, chicken has only three grams of fat in a 3-ounce cooked portion, and it’s low in saturated fat. With the skin on, chicken provides 8 ounces of fat per 3-ounce portion (less than fatty meats), but still eat skinless if you can.
- Good as an iron source. Iron often gets short-changed by teenage girls and women in their child-bearing years. Chicken, like meat and fish, provides heme iron, important for carrying oxygen in blood to cells where energy is produced.
- Source of other key nutrients. Chicken’s B vitamins help your body release energy, form red blood cells, build body tissues, and help your nervous system function; vitamin B6 also helps protect against age-related memory decline. Its magnesium helps build bones and release energy from muscles. And its zinc, among other functions, helps your immune system work properly.
- Budget-friendly. As a lean protein-rich option, the National Chicken Council notes that chicken costs only about $1.25 a pound. To compare, lean beef often costs two to three times that amount.
- Versatile partner. Because chicken pairs easily in recipes with nutrient-dense vegetables, grain products and cheese, it’s the perfect protein food for center plate!
Chicken and Pasta: Delicious, Nutritious Partners
Hot or cold, chicken makes a perfect protein partner for pasta in soups, salads and hot entrees. Its mild flavor complements the savory, sweet and spicy tastes of all kinds of pasta dishes … from your family favorites to recipes for many global cuisines. To help you celebrate National Chicken Month at your family table, enjoy these easy, affordable and flavorful recipes from Dreamfields.
Hearty pasta soups: In nearly any pasta soup, chicken is a great meat or turkey substitute.
- A Dreamfields recipe favorite pairs chicken and rotini with spicy Southwest flavors: Southwestern Chicken Rotini Soup, combined with black beans, corn and jalapeños, seasoned with onion, garlic, chile powder, cumin and oregano and topped with sharp Cheddar and cilantro.
Chilled pasta salads: Have leftover cooked chicken? Sliced, chopped or shredded, it’s ready to reinvent in a pasta salad. No leftovers? Then plan ahead and cook an extra chicken breast or two for dinner tonight for a pasta salad tomorrow.
- Any Dreamfields pasta shape partners with sliced chicken breast in a Chicken Caprese Salad made with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella and a lemon balsamic dressing.
- Cobb salads are perfect for lunch – especially when eggs, onion, bacon, avocado, cheese and tomato are paired with Dreamfields rotini and chopped chicken in a Cobb & Rotini Pasta Salad.
- For a heartier meal, chicken breast, seasoned with Mediterranean spices and served over pasta salad, makes a uniquely flavorful meal. Zatar Spiced Chicken and Pasta Salad combines chicken and penne rigate with zucchini, tomato, chickpeas, olives, hummus and parsley. (Zatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend often made with marjoram, oregano, salt, sesame seeds, sumac and thyme.)
Hot pasta entrees: Because they blend with so many ingredients and seasonings, both chicken and pasta are common ingredients in recipes around the world. Enjoy these recipes inspired by a few popular destinations.
- Chicken pairs well with pasta and tropical flavors. Hawaiian Islands Chicken Pasta combines chunks of chicken and Dreamfields angel hair pasta with pineapple, green pepper, carrots, onion and a soy-sesame-ginger sauce.
- Pasta, often prepared with chicken, is a mainstay of Italian dishes, such as Chicken Puttanesca with Spaghetti. Prepared with seasoned chicken thighs, diced tomatoes, black olives, anchovy fillets, capers, garlic and more, this recipes offers a traditional way to enjoy Dreamfields spaghetti!
- Chicken can go Tex-Mex, too. For a favorite family meal, try Taco Spaghetti, prepared by tossing Dreamfields spaghetti with cooked ground chicken, flavored with fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder and perhaps chipotle or jalapeños, and topped with Cheddar.
For more easy-to-prepare pasta dishes with chicken as a lean protein ingredient, check the many delicious and healthful recipes from Dreamfields.