It’s Nutrition Month, and the Dietitians of Canada are celebrating healthy eating through this year’s theme ‘Simply Cook and Enjoy’!
In North America, we are becoming increasingly disconnected from our food, and our fast-paced and convenience -driven eating habits are causing detrimental effects to our health and ecosystem.
During Nutrition Month, dietitians have the opportunity to advocate for health through food, and this year, we get to promote one of my favourite activities, cooking!
Cooking is a humbling activity that connects the food we buy and the nutrition it supplies our bodies. Cooking can be fun, creative, relaxing, and can provide an opportunity to learn about different cultures and new fruits and vegetables.
For this post, I’ll focus on creating delicious meals while saving money. As a student, price is a huge force that drives my food purchases. I tend to buy things on sale, in season and in bulk when I can to get a better value.
From some field research in Vancouver I did in 2010, boneless skinless chicken breasts can cost anywhere between $12-$22 per kg! The average price of chicken breasts is typically around the $16 per kg mark. Whole chickens, on the other hand, usually cost about $10-16 each, or $5-8 per kg for a conventional chicken, and serve at least 4 people, which is a huge savings if you can use all the pieces. However, you will pay more for brand names as well as organic free range chicken, especially at specialty store such as Whole Foods or Choices.
You can of course cook the chicken whole, but I like to debone it, marinate the pieces and pan sear them for ultimate flavour. The carcass of the chicken can then be frozen and used to make homemade stock and soups at your heart’s desire. Yumm!
Here is one recipe you can try to get the most out your food dollars.
Balsamic Marinated Chicken
1 chicken, deboned
9T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 Thai chilis, cut in half (optional)
10 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T canola oil
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/2 lemon, juiced
1T butter or margarine
1. In a resealable bag or a bowl, combine 6T balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, chill, thyme and garlic.
2. Add chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.
3. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, over night or 24 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees celsius.
5. In a large oven-proof skillet on medium-high heat, heat up the canola oil and brown chicken on all sides.
6. Place a probe thermometer in the thickest part of one of the thighs and put whole pan in oven. Cook until thermometer reads 185 degrees celsius.
7. Place chicken on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest.
8. Put the pan back on the stove on medium heat and add the rest of the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, while whisking. **Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot handle!!**
9. Add chicken stock, pepper, lemon juice and agave or honey. Cook until sauce thickens. Turn off heat and add butter or margarine and whisk to combine.
10. Serve chicken with sauce and your favourite vegetable sides! Enjoy.
For more information about Nutrition Month 2014 – Simply Cook and Enjoy! – visit www.dietitians.ca/ nutritionmonth. Nutrition Month is brought to you by Dietitians of Canada and thousands of dietitians across the country, in collaboration with the campaign sponsors.