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Old 01-04-2009, 05:28 PM   #21
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All great suggestions ... I would encourage you to go as low sodium as possible, meaning avoid bottled marinades and dressings unless they are low-sodium. Simply cutting the "eating out" will help tremendously, but sodium will directly affect the fluid around your heart.

Another great idea for adding flavor, especially to chicken, is balsamic vinegar. You can also get punch from lemon as someone said, and even reduced sodium soy sauce. Fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme are great because they pack LOTS of flavor and you can include them in your marinade whole and discard if you like before cooking.

Other places for great recipes might be the South Beach or Weight Watchers forums, as people on these diets tend to eat an inordinate amount of chicken! Most of my coworkers are doing one or the other.
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:22 AM   #22
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Here's a few more menu ideas for you:

While brining is an excellent way to add flavor, you have to be careful with sodium content and label watching. Quite a bit of the chicken and pork available comes brined. Especially boneless chicken breasts and pork loin chops. Read the labeling, if you see the wording of an added "water solution" read brining already done. Usually it's a 10 to 12 % solution and the only way to add flavor is to go with a higher concentration of salt brine, probably not what you want to do.

Frozen Vegetables- Usually very low sodium and so easy to fix, if you can turn on the stove, you can fix them. Because they are flash frozen after being par-boiled they are still loaded with nutrients. I like the green peas with a little granulated garlic and a tablespoon of freeze dried shallots thrown in. You enjoy stir fry ? Try frozen stir fry veggies with a couple of spoonfuls of oyster sauce and a handful of leftover chicken breast over a half cup of rice, less than 400 calories and loaded with nutrients.

Whole grains-One of the absolute best things you will ever do is switch to whole grain products, breads, pasta, muffins and bagels. There is no excuse for not making the switch. If you follow the My Pyramid food guide (which I would recommend) whole grains are the foundation of the pyramid and you need 6 to 11 servings daily. There are many quick and super easy solutions on the market. Thomas, the bagel folks, have many products on the market that are readily available everywhere. They've recent added a no high fructose corn syrup English Muffin to their line up that is 110 calories, add some sugar free jelly or jam, and you are way under 200 calories. Even with low fat cream cheese on top, you are still under 200 calories. With whole grain muffins and bagels with jelly or low fat cream cheese it's easy to fashion a quick easy breakfast or snack that's under 300 calories. Add a piece of fresh fruit and you've got a meal that takes less than 5 minutes to fix.

You want a super easy, sweet fix, Jello Sugar Free pudding cups, 60 or 70 calories and they are down right decadent. They've recently added a dulce-de-leche flavor that is almost sinful.

I can ramble on and on, the options you need are out there you just have to know where to look. Most of the items I talk about are available, believe it or not, at your local Wal-Mart. Last recommendation get an accurate scale and make sure that you are eating correct portion sizes. Even if you eat healthy foods, if you don't control the portions, you are still overeating.
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:20 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grillncook View Post
Frozen Vegetables- Usually very low sodium and so easy to fix, if you can turn on the stove, you can fix them. Because they are flash frozen after being par-boiled they are still loaded with nutrients. I like the green peas with a little granulated garlic and a tablespoon of freeze dried shallots thrown in. You enjoy stir fry ? Try frozen stir fry veggies with a couple of spoonfuls of oyster sauce and a handful of leftover chicken breast over a half cup of rice, less than 400 calories and loaded with nutrients.
What a great post! Just to echo the merits of frozen vegies for convenience. The new "steamers" are so darned handy and often on sale for less than a buck. I can make a meal of just vegies for lunch at work and not feel guilty if I eat the entire bag!
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:32 AM   #24
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OK, I just tried a brine. I took 1/3 cup of salt and put it in a saucepan with 2 cups of water on medium/high heat.

I then added the original ingredients of the recipe I started this thread with (minus the flour) at double thier original measurements:

2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper

I brought the mixture to a rolling boil for a few minutes, then allowed it to steep for 1 hour. I then poured the mixture into a pyrex plan, added 6-8 cups of water and mixed it well. I then put it in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I put 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the brine and allowed and put it back into the fridge for 8-9 hours.

I then put the brined breasts in a pyrex pan which I'd coated with olive oil spray. I sprayed the tops of the chicken breasts with olive oil spray, as well, put a little cracked black pepper on top for insurance, and baked them in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

These came out even better than my last attempt. They were more flavorful, and even moister than those I originally posted about here.

Most of the flavor, though, appears to have come from the salt. They were a little salty. I'm wondering if this was because I used too much salt in the brine, or if I left the chicken breasts in the brine too long, or both?

Also, I remember reading somewhere that you could brine a baked potato. Is that true, and if so, how do you go about it?
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:14 AM   #25
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It was probably a combination of both too much salt and too much time in the brine. Brining is basically a chemical reaction, you use a higher concentration of salt (Brine) to transfer to a lower concentration of salt (chicken breast, in this case), in order to impart flavor or remove certain fluids from the meat. In the case of brining a whole chicken, you are removing blood and other bodily fluids from the meat. when you look at the brine after you've brined a whole chicken you'll notice that it is tinged with red( blood) that has been replaced with the brine you used. If the salt content is the same in both, you get no transfer because there is no chemical reason for the brine to move into the meat. One of the reasons I mentioned reading the labels to see if it had been treated with a water solution, is because most boneless chicken breasts are from very young chickens and haven't developed any flavor and they have no fat, so they are brined by the manufacturer or packer to keep what little flavor they have and to make sure they are moist when cooked.

You would probably have had as much success using your spice mixture as a rub and allowing the chicken to sit and get acquainted with the rub for the same amount of time, 8 to 9 hours. Personally, I feel that your cooking time is too long. Have you taken internal temperatures at any point in the cooking process ? Most people err by overcooking chicken by a large amount which dries it out. I use a similar spice blend and cook to an internal temperature of 155 degrees and let the breasts rest, tented in aluminum foil, for 10 minutes before serving. After the rest the temperature has increased to 165 degrees and the chicken is very moist and juicy with great flavor. USDA standards indicate that 160 degrees for the breast and 180 degrees for the thigh are correct for "Done" chicken products. I grill my chicken breasts, never bake them, and when my grill settles down I start the breasts at 450 degrees and the temperature has dropped to 350 when I usually pull them 20 minutes later. I grill 6 breasts twice a week and use them through out the week, I've been doing this for several years. no matter what the weather is. I never brine breasts, only whole chickens, and my grilled chicken breasts are always requested at family dinners, and there are some serious cooks in my family.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:44 PM   #26
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First, I want to thank you for taking so much time with me. After reading what you wrote before, I read the label on the chicken breasts, but didn't see anything about a "water solution", so I thought It was ok to brine them.

The overcooking thing surprises me. The first of the breasts I ate (the smallest) was white all the way through. The next one I ate (the next smallest one) was a little pink in the largest part of the breast, so I cooked the other two an additional 15 minutes before I ate them. They were white all the way through. I've checked my oven with a thermometer, so I know the temperature is accurate. I was of the understanding that chicken should not be pink in the center, that it should be cooked all the way through. Is this wrong?

I know I can get a meat thermometer with a probe and use it, but honestly, I'm striving for simplicity here above all else. I've made dozens of false starts at learning to cook over the years, and have always ended up giving up because what I cook tastes like crap/I caught the kitchen on fire/there's too much grief and drama involved in the preparation and/or cleanup, etc.

I'm currently trying to learn baking versus other methods first because it appears to be the simplest way, and I want to become proficient at several simple recipes before I become more adventurous. There's also the issue of my kitchen, which doesn't have a fan. The last time I tried to grill a couple of chicken breasts on my stovetop grillpan, I set off the smoke detectors before I even got the chicken on the grill. Even when that doesn't happen, the smoke and the smell permeate the house for days before they either subside, or I get used to the smells and don't notice them any more.

I'm thinking I want to start with small steps, and to me, that's baking.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:52 PM   #27
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Most of the flavor, though, appears to have come from the salt. They were a little salty. I'm wondering if this was because I used too much salt in the brine, or if I left the chicken breasts in the brine too long, or both??

You brined them for way too long. You did not use too much salt.

The ratio of salt to water is 1 cup of salt for every gallon of water. You used almost 3/4 of a gallon of water, so 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of salt would be about right.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts only need about an hour in the brine.
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Old 01-15-2009, 09:38 AM   #28
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As you progress in your cooking skills you'll find out that cooking to a time is rarely accurate. For $20 you can purchase a remote probe type thermometer that all you have to do is program in the temperature you want stick it in the oven and wait for the ding when the meat hits the correct temperature. It doesn't get much simpler than that. A little pink isn't harmful, all harmful bacteria is eliminated or killed at any temperature over 137 degrees. This information is important, because if you take the temperature in the thickest part of the breast and it's over 137 you have eliminated the bacteria and scientifically the food is safe for consumption. Chicken will be defiantly quite pink at this temperature and to be on the safe side I cook until 155 degrees.

I don't ever mind spending time with anyone, especially somebody trying to learn. My hope is that you develop the same passion for really good food, like the majority of people that post on this forum exhibit. Cooking is a steep learning curve, there are people that spend their lives learning how to do it well. You've come to the right place to increase your knowledge, and I hope that I and the other folks have helped in furthering your goals to losing weight. Good food is a sum total of your experience and what tastes good to you. As you gain more experience it just will get better and better.
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