The Jacksons, Week 32: Spinning Poultry, Waiting Family

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

deidra jackson picture

Jackson: Maybe if I stare at them they'll cook faster! Credit: Deidra Jackson

Go ahead and say something negative about rotisserie bird. I dare you.

Is it really possible to utter a hurtful word about honest-to-goodness, juicy domesticated fowl that's not -- dare I say it -- breaded, floured or fried? In the worlds of health, fitness and vegetarianism, I'm sure it is denigrated in more than a few circles. But today, right here? Nein.

More to the point, we, the Jacksons, spent a Saturday mesmerized by five rotating skinless Cornish hens-on-a-spit on the patio at my parents' house. My son, Jack, and I drove two hours to see those other Jacksons, in reality, so that I could enjoy a lazy Mother's Day weekend filled with pampering and relaxation. Dad decided to break out his tabletop rotisserie to roast the hens that I had marinated several hours before. My signature seasonings for these birdies were simple: a little Kraft Light Asian Toasted Sesame Reduced Fat salad dressing and assorted spices -- salt and black pepper, garlic and onion powder, celery seed and parsley.

The dressing added a delightful zing of flavors to the mix: toasted sesame seeds, roasted garlic and ginger. It's also my new favorite dressing on an actual salad. At 50 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per two-tablespoon serving, it's no rich, fat-laden sauce, nutritionally speaking, especially in comparison to other dressings, like spicy ranch, which weighs in at a hefty 150 calories and 16 fat grams.

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Yes, I know that depending on how you prepare certain "healthy" foods, you can add insult to injury by adding too much butter, oil or other fats. Remember, our hens were skinless and I purposely held back on the dressing; instead, I seasoned the meat liberally with the spices.

Our hearts were set on enjoying something a little different and simpler this weekend, a nourishing and delicious meal that wouldn't leave our Healthy Families Challenge followers shaking their heads in shame.

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Skinless, juicy and good! Credit: Deidra Jackson

After dad made sure the temperature inside the meat was near 180 degrees, he pried them off the spit and transferred them into a nearby roasting pan. To accompany the ultimately bronzed Cornish hens, my mom (who was unable to totally escape the kitchen) steamed some Brussels sprouts and baked some yeast rolls.

We enjoyed a nice dinner. It was delicious. And it was healthful -- all things considered.

I can already hear some of our more involved and nutritionally astute HFC devotees. Yes, you're right, it's been proven that rotisserie chicken can have as many calories as fried chicken. Some damning evidence based on one person's journey from husky to fit can be found on his "chicken nutrition" page, which includes the following quote: "Rotisserie chicken is perhaps the most dangerous of all. . . rotisserie chicken is cooked using oil, and the fat from the chicken itself continuously bastes the lean chicken meat as it turns on the spit."

Ouch.

I say, the dripping juices seal the deal. Isn't that the point of watching those bad boys get all-succulent?

Look at the numbers: Three ounces of rotisserie Cornish hen or rotisserie chicken have the same calorie count, 160, according to the LiveStrong.com blog, a site featuring content pertaining to fitness and healthy lifestyles. But when it comes to the other figures, including fat grams (8 vs. 12, respectively), protein (21 vs. 16), and sodium (40 vs. 280), the numbers vary, in favor of the hens.

For variation, maybe I'll try Bobby Flay's recipe for Tandoori Marinated Cornish Hens on the Rotisserie, which, of course, calls for a whole host of ingredients, including several I've never kept in my pantry. Saffron threads? That's a pricey item.

So, in light of the alternative belt-busting meal we could have eaten on this day, I think the tender hens that I marinated and that my father cooked outside on the patio, along with fresh vegetables and baked rolls, were a good choice. And that's a positive note.

They tasted great, too.

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