Have You Ever Wondered

. . . if free-range chickens have less fat? It's a common misperception that free-range chickens—those that "roam the barnyard and forage for food"—are always leaner than chickens raised in coops. Whether they're raised in a coop or a barnyard, their exercise level often is about the same. Genetic stock, age, and growth rate have greater influence on fat levels. Older, larger chickens and those that grow faster tend to have more fat. That's true of all chickens, no matter how they're raised.

According to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which regulates poultry labeling, the terms "free-range" and "free-roaming" may be used on poultry labels if the producers can demonstrate that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside for a significant portion of their life. Some people are willing to spend more for free-range chickens because they perceive a taste difference; blind taste tests don't show differences in flavor perception.

  • if the tiny red spots on finfish are safe to eat? These spots are bruise marks, not contamination. They occur when fish is not handled gently, either when it's caught or in the supermarket. It's safe to eat. But be aware that bruised areas often deteriorate faster. . . . how the fat and cholesterol in surimi compare with crabmeat? Surimi is imitation crabmeat, made from pollock or another mild-flavored fish. The fish is processed by rolling "sheets" of fish and adding color so it looks like crab legs. The nutrient content reflects the fish it's made from. Surimi is comparable in fat content but lower in cholesterol than crabmeat.
  • For cost savings, buy a whole bird. You'll usually save money if you carve a chicken yourself.
  • Buy enough poultry for moderate portions. The chart"Poultry Buying Guide" on this page shows how much to buy for 3-ounce cooked portions.
  • For safety, it's best not to buy fresh prestuffed poultry.
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