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An Easy Guide to Buying Chicken

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3 simple ways to pick, prep, and cook the perfect chicken.

Americans eat almost 60 pounds of chicken per person per year, but we don't always know what we're getting. "There's confusion about what type of chicken is best and how to prepare it safely without overcooking it," says Jason Graham, executive chef of the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in San Diego. Here, a cheat sheet.

Decode Labels

Don't be fooled by terms like all-natural, free-range, and hormone-free, which aren't strictly regulated by the government. A better buy: organic chicken, which is certified by the USDA as having been raised without exposure to antibiotics and pesticides.

Know Your Breast Bet

Four ounces of thigh meat have more iron and more than double the zinc of a chicken breast, with just 50 additional calories and two more grams of saturated fat. Or buy bone-in chicken breasts; they're juicier than the boneless kind and a few dollars cheaper.

Watch the Clock

Cutting into the meat to check if it's done lets the juices run out. Instead try this trick: Preheat the pan or grill so it's hot before the chicken hits it. Then take the meat off two to three minutes before the end of the suggested cooking time. The chicken will continue to cook internally for a few minutes without drying out.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2010.

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