Not only is this protein affordable, it’s also a versatile go-to meat for simple, healthy recipes.

Don’t be afraid of the dark meat—it’s packed with flavor and loaded with B vitamins, zinc and iron, and contains only a negligible amount more fat and calories than white meat.

Ingredients

5–7-pound chicken, giblets removed from cavity
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 head garlic, sliced in half
1 bunch cilantro, washed and stems removed
1 bunch parsley, washed and stems removed
1 lemon, washed and quartered
Juice of 3 lemons
2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour lemon juice over the chicken. Rub chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper, including under the skin of the breast of the chicken. Place one quarter of the lemon, onion, cilantro, and parsley between the skin and the breast meat. Place the rest of the lemon, onion, cilantro, parsley and all of the garlic in the cavity of the chicken. Pull legs to cover the cavity and wings to overlap the breast. Set in a roasting pan breast side down. Roast for approximately 75 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 175 degrees. Recommended: Baste the chicken with juices from the pan every 15 minutes after first 30 minutes of cooking. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. To carve, remove skin from chicken and discard aromatics. Cut all meat from breast, thighs, legs, and wings. Note: Any herbs, including dried, can be used in this recipe.

Now what? Enjoy your chicken with a side dish of your choice, or use it in one of these tasty, simple recipes.

Chicken Primavera

Ingredients
1 roasted chicken, meat
removed and chopped
12 ounces brown rice, quinoa or whole-wheat penne
1 cup asparagus, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup eggplant, chopped
1 cup yellow squash, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T parsley, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Directions
Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Toss asparagus, peppers, eggplant and squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, turning halfway through. (Vegetables can also be grilled five minutes per side and then chopped.) Any vegetables can be included in this recipe, so use what you have and make it colorful! Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 10–14 minutes, depending on instructions. Drain pasta and immediately toss with ricotta, lemon juice, and zest. Add roasted vegetables, chicken, tomatoes, and parsley and stir until combined.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Ingredients
1 roasted chicken, meat removed
¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 T light mayonnaise
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup artichoke hearts, quartered
½ cup sundried tomatoes, julienned
½ cup kalamata olives, halved
3 T walnuts, finely chopped
2 T parsley, finely chopped
¼ tsp pepper

Directions
Finely shred chicken with a fork. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, olive oil, mustard, and pepper. Whisk until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the chicken, and mix well. Serve in your favorite wrap, as a dip for crackers and veggies or on top of mixed greens with a light vinaigrette.

Chicken Tostadas

Ingredients
1 roasted chicken, meat removed
8 corn tortillas
1½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1½ cup grilled or fire-roasted corn*
½ cup queso fresco**
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 T chili powder
½ T cumin
2 avocados

Directions
Finely shred chicken with a fork. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté chicken, chili powder and cumin for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tortillas on two large baking sheets and bake 8–10 minutes per side, until crispy. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, corn, queso fresco, and cilantro. Top each tortilla with a heaping quarter-cup of chicken and tomato-corn mixture. Slice one quarter avocado on top of each tostada.
*You can grill corn on the cob with husks off and remove kernels, or buy fire-roasted corn, found in the frozen section.
**Queso fresco is a light Mexican specialty cheese usually found near gourmet or ricotta cheeses.

Chicken Curry

Ingredients
1 roasted chicken, meat
removed and chopped
4 cups brown rice, cooked
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
½ head cauliflower florets
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T crushed fresh ginger
3 T yellow curry powder*
2 T agave or honey
1 can light coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
2 T canola oil
2 T whole-wheat or brown rice flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped

Directions
In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Sauté carrots and cauliflower for five minutes. Add zucchini, sauté another five minutes. Remove from heat and let rest. In the same pot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, salt, and pepper. Sauté 8–10 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, agave or honey, and curry powder and sauté one minute. Stir in flour and sauté another minute. Whisk in stock and coconut milk and bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10–15 minutes to let thicken. Remove from heat and add the chicken and vegetables. Let sit covered for five minutes. Serve over brown rice with cilantro sprinkled on top.

*Yellow curry powder can be found at most grocery stores in the Asian foods section. Indian curry powder can also be substituted.