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September celebrates chicken, potatoes, honey

posted: September 10. 2018 09:53a CST
by / Janelle Thomas | Food Columnist

We are well into September, a month to celebrate going back to school, the beginning of fall, football season and three national food holidays. September is National Chicken Month, National Potato Month and National Honey Month.

Each of those food products is widely produced in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, so I’m giving a shoutout to all three this week. Each recipe below contains at least two of the three “holiday” ingredients and a couple use all three ingredients in the same recipe.

Chicken is a nutritious white meat that is growing in consumption each year. According to the National Poultry Council, the per capita consumption of chicken has gone from 36.9 pounds per year in 1968 to 93.1 pounds per year in 2018.

A 3.5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast contains just 165 calories, 3.6 grams of total fat and 1 gram of saturated fat, and it provides 25 gram of protein. Minnesota ranks 19th among broiler-producing states while Wisconsin follows in 20th.

To maximize the health benefits of chicken, remove the skin before eating -- either before cooking or after, but leaving it on during cooking keeps it juicier. Removing the skin before eating can reduce the fat content by 50 percent.

Rather than using butter or oils to enhance the chicken’s flavor when cooking, try cooking with vinegars, wines, herbs, spices or even citrus fruit. Try baking, roasting, broiling, grilling or poaching chicken to reduce the use of fats. Use olive oil to stir fry or pan fry.

The average American consumes 110 pounds of potatoes each year. (Total tomato consumption is 20 pounds less.) According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin ranks third in the nation for potato production with more than 2.6 billion pounds grown annually and generates $310 million.

The majority of Wisconsin’s potato crop is grown in the Central Sands region near the Wisconsin River watershed. The area’s sandy soil allows for an earlier planting season.

Honey is sweet, no doubt about it, but honey is also becoming recognized as a versatile ingredient and a pantry staple. It is slightly sweeter than sugar, so it takes less honey to achieve the same taste as other sweeteners. Honey also balances and enhances the flavors of other recipe ingredients.

In recipes, honey also acts as an emulsifier. This means it acts as a binder and thickener for sauces, dressings, marinades and dips. Additionally, it provides moisture to baked goods and can even extend their shelf life.

I hope you can find something in the kitchen to celebrate this month. Our national food holidays are a great inspiration.

Janelle Thomas can be reached at janellethomas@charter.net.

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