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Pick up a rotisserie chicken, and you're halfway done with these quick, healthy recipes.

In summer, the last place you want to be is in the kitchen! But by midseason, you can get pretty tired of sandwich suppers and takeout. So, I'll let you in on a summertime secret of mine: I often buy a rotisserie chicken and use it as a starter for an easy dinner recipe.

You can pick up a whole roasted or rotisserie chicken at supermarkets for around $7 (which is about what it would cost you to buy it raw, by the way). You can get ready-to-go chickens at most supermarket chains, big club stores like Costco, and local BBQ restaurants as well as chains like Boston Market.

Just take one home, invest about five minutes to pull the meat away from the skin and bones, and then the sky's the limit! You're already halfway to a bunch of healthy and quick dishes.

Before you get started on my cool and easy rotisserie chicken recipes (below), here are six rules of thumb for buying and cooking with rotisserie or roasted chickens:

1. Know what you're getting. One rotisserie chicken will give you about 4 cups of shredded chicken, both white and dark meat (no skin). The typical chicken translates into about 12 ounces of light meat and 8 ounces of dark meat (no skin), which gives you a total of:

  • 1,037 calories
  • 166 g protein
  • 0 g carbohydrate
  • 34 g fat
  • 10.4 g saturated fat
  • 13.7 g monounsaturated fat
  • 8.2 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 505 mg cholesterol
  • 0 g fiber
  • 451 mg sodium (unless some sodium is added to season the chicken before roasting)
  • 30% calories from fat

2. Once you find a good source for rotisserie chickens, learn the best time to buy them. You want the chicken to be fresh, not standing under the lamps for a while. And you want to make sure you have plenty to choose from. You don't want get there at 6:15 p.m. only to find out that the last chicken has been snatched up and they stopped making them at 6 p.m.

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