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Simple Cooking 101: Chicken, Seafood and Meat

Simple Cooking 101: Chicken, Seafood and Meat

You don’t have to have lots of time on your hands to be healthy! This is one of the most common misconceptions I hear. I understand the challenges of trying to eat well with limited time, but I promise you – you don’t have to be rich or retired to eat well and take care of yourself. Once you learn the basic techniques of cooking, eating well in the midst of a high-paced lifestyle is totally possible. Understanding basic cooking techniques will allow you to whip up something healthy in a snap.

How much to purchase:

When purchasing proteins, plan on 4 to 6 ounces per person if the protein is boneless and skinless. When you are buying proteins such as bone-in chicken breasts, bone-in steaks or lamb chops, you should generally buy the whole piece. If you buy too much, leftovers are a good thing and can become a quick lunch.

Cooking temperatures:

  • Chicken is done when it reaches 160°F to 165°F.
  • Fish is ready at 145°F.
  • Meat will depend on your preference, from 130°F to 135°F for medium-rare steak, or 140°F to 145°F for steak cooked medium. Ground meat should be cooked to 165°F.

To Sauté

Start by seasoning the protein with sea salt, ground black pepper and garlic or other seasonings that you enjoy. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil or grass-fed butter or ghee in a sauté or frying pan over medium heat. When the pan and oil are hot (but not smoking), place the chicken, fish or meat in the pan and cook until you get a golden crust on one side. Turn the pieces over and cook on the other side. Don’t overcook meats or fish. It makes them hard and dry. Over time, you’ll get a feel when something is done, but to begin, I recommend getting a meat thermometer to measure temperatures. Just stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. If the pieces are thick or feature bones and don’t fully cook on the stovetop, they can be quickly finished in just a few minutes in a hot (400°F to 425°F) oven.

Here are some delicious recipes to try out your new sauté technique:

Sundried Tomato and Turkey Burgers with Avocado Cream

Greek Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Olives

To Broil or Grill

Begin by preheating your broiler, grill pan or outdoor gas grill on high until hot. For the broiler, place the rack one level down from the top of the oven. Drizzle the meat, chicken or fish with extra-virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee, then season with sea salt, ground black pepper and other seasonings you like. For the broiler, place on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and broil, turning once or twice, until the food is evenly cooked to the temperatures listed in the previous section.

To grill, turn the heat down to medium-high and place the food on the hot grill. Allow one side to get golden with nice grill marks, then flip and turn the heat down to low. The second side may not take as long.

Timing will depend on the protein and the thickness of what you are cooking. Fish should take 7 to 10 minutes, boneless chicken breast should take 12 to 15 minutes, and steaks will vary. If the outside is getting too done, move the pieces to a cooler part of the grill while they finish cooking. Small foods like shrimp cook very quickly under the broiler or on the grill. Once the first side is pink, turn them over and cook another minute or just until the second side turns pink. To keep them tender, never overcook shrimp!

Whether grilling or broiling, remember not to char your food to ensure you avoid exposure to toxic compounds.

Are you ready to get grilling? Try out these tasty recipes:

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Salad

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Breast

Mark Hyman MD is the Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.