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One of the best tricks for improving your nutrition while reducing your calories is plenty of protein-rich food and vegetables (as long as you limit the fatty sauces and toppings that are traditionally served with them). And one of the quickest, simplest protein-rich foods to prepare is chicken … which can get pretty dull or even dry.

Marinades to the Rescue!

A marinade is a combination of something acidic (like lemon juice or vinegar) and something flavorful, like garlic, herbs, chopped onions, and/or ginger. It flavors the meat, tenderizes it, and helps it hold moisture — making your food more delicious and creating an opportunity for variety in taste without a lot of surprises with calories.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has some safety and basic ingredients recommendations for marinades. (If you’re in a hurry, you can just use some of your favorite salad dressing.) The DHHS gives blanket advice that it is safe to marinate meats for a couple of days (or more). That’s probably true, but from a quality point of view, it’s mostly red meat that can stand up to more than 24 hours. (Overmarinated meats can get mushy.) Fish should marinate the shortest (around a half hour), and chicken somewhere in between. (You can also “cook” fish with a marinade — the Spanish dish ceviche.)

The Kitchn and Greatist offer dozens of options for chicken — I bet at least a couple of these will have you looking forward to chicken again!

Image from First-World Problems meme (also called White Whine — white wine is also nice with chicken, and wines can be used in marinades!)

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