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These new recipes are easy to prepare and nutritious.

For fast, satisfying weeknight meals, chicken rules the roost. And for good reason: There are a thousand ways to prepare it, and it can be nutritious. Three ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast contain 31 grams of protein, a flock of heart-protective B vitamins, and about 4 grams of fat, says nutritionist Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD. Zelman says chicken appears on her own table 3 nights a week.

Think beyond chicken breasts too, she says. She's also a fan of chicken thighs. "Because thighs have a bit more fat, they hold up better, especially on the grill," Zelman says. A 3-ounce portion of skinless chicken thighs contains about 8 grams of fat, and that little extra adds flavor and moisture. Zelman sometimes cooks chicken with the skin on to keep it juicy, but removes most of it before eating to trim fat and calories.

However you prepare your chicken, don't rinse it before cooking, says Jennifer Quinlan, PhD. She's an associate professor in the nutrition sciences department at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Raw chicken can contain salmonella or other bacteria, but "washing won't decrease them, and in fact mobilizes them," spraying the germs into your sink and onto counters and clothing, she says. When possible, move chicken straight from its original packaging to the pan or dish for cooking, which destroys those germs.

Southwestern Chicken Tacos With Mango and Avocado Crema

These flavorful tacos contain jicama, a fresh, crisp root veggie with apple-like texture, and are topped with avocado crema, a tasty, Mexican-inspired alternative to plain sour cream. 

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tsp canola oil

½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp ground cumin

dash of salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1½ lbs boneless, skinless,

chicken thighs

1½ cups shredded broccoli slaw

1 cup peeled, julienne-cut jicama

2 tbsp finely chopped sweet onion

1 mango, peeled and sliced

¼ cup fresh cilantro

½ ripe peeled avocado

¼ cup low-fat sour cream

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

2 tbsp fat-free milk

12 6-inch white corn tortillas

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, and sprinkle mixture on chicken pieces. Sauté chicken 3 minutes per side or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F. Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces; cover and keep warm.

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