Most of you have probably purchased eggs and chicken from the grocery store recently and I am sure have noticed the push of “cage-free” or “free-range” in the packaging, but what does this all mean? Is it worth the few extra dollars? These labels can be confusing, so I am going to try to make it as clear as possible! The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines free-range as “allowing chickens to have some access to an outside area.” This doesn’t include how long or under what conditions. To ensure you are purchasing meat and eggs from free-range chickens that foraged on plants in a natural environment, look for indications on the packing that the chickens were pastured or find the label “Animal Welfare Approved.”
Part of the reason for this higher value is because these products just simply cost more to produce. By paying a few extra dollars you are also paying for a higher nutritional value. Chickens that are confined in a small space to share cages inside a warehouse do not engage in their natural behaviors. This method is an efficient way to make money, so the faster the chickens become meat, the more successful the companies become. This quick turnover results from a lot of antibiotics and additives added to the chicken’s food and therefore your meat.
This is what living on an organic farm for 4 months will do to you! Ha ha! The main point of my rant is to buy free range products! The few extra dollars will go a long way in the healthiness of your meat!
Since we eat chicken so much, it’s important that it’s healthy and that we change up the flavor every once in a while! The Asian inspired recipe below is a terrific way to spice up your weekly chicken dish with no added time!
Sesame Teriyaki Chicken with Ginger Carrots
*You will need 8 inch wooden or metal skewers* (If wooden, soak in water for a few minutes to prevent burning on grill)
Sesame Teriyaki Chicken:
- 4 Free-Range boneless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1 tsp of grated ginger
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Thinly sliced green onion for garnish
- 2 pounds of large carrots, peeled and cut into 3rds on an angle
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tsp of dried parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Cut the chicken breast into one inch pieces. Whisk together all of the following ingredients, except for the sesame seeds, in a large bowl until combined. Place the pieces of chicken into the mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil salted water for the carrots. Once the water has come to a boil, cook the carrots covered for about 6 minutes until crisp-tender.
- Drain the water. In the same pot, add the butter, ginger, parsley, and salt/pepper to taste. Mix until the carrots are fully coated.
- Now heat the grill to high in order to cook the marinated chicken. Using skewers (either wooden or metal), put the pieces of chicken onto the skewers. (Should be about 1 chicken breast per skewer.) Coat with as much marinade as possible.
- Place the skewers onto the heated grill and cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onion over the cooked chicken skewers and serve with Ginger Carrots and brown rice.