Chicken Wings, Lightened Up

by in Meal Makeovers, February 2, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken Wings
A game-day gathering just wouldn’t be complete without a plate of hot wings. This finger food can quickly max you out on calories and fat. Slim this party nibbler with these tips and recipes.

Wing It
The classic chicken wing recipe calls for a whole lot of unhealthy steps: flouring and deep-frying the wings and then tossing them in a sauce, which is often a mixture of hot sauce and butter. A single, average-sized fried wing has 100 calories and 7 grams of fat (including 2 grams of saturated fat) and that’s before it’s tossed in any sauce or dipped in blue cheese! Once you dunk that wing in a creamy dressing, you add another 76 calories and 8 grams of fat per tablespoon!

Think a boneless wing is the way to go? Think again! We checked out the menus of some
popular chain restaurants and found orders of boneless wings (with blue cheese dressing) contain more than 1,100 calories, 80 grams of fat and 4,000 milligrams of sodium (that’s almost double the sodium recommendation for an entire day!)

A smarter choice is a roasted, grilled or broiled chicken wing, which only has 35 to 40 calories and 1 gram of fat each — that’s definitely a step in the right direction. Keep portions modest — about five or six wings per person.

Take a (Light) Dip
For your wings’ sauce, replace butter with heart-healthy olive oil or forget the extra fat all together by just brushing your wings with a flavorful hot sauce or other low-fat condiment such as teriyaki, BBQ or sweet and sour.

For dipping, pass on the bottled blue cheese and make a lighter version of your own with plain non-fat Greek yogurt and some crumbled blue cheese (this will save you 45 calories per tablespoon). Salsa and honey mustard are other lower-fat choices.

Finger-Licking Good
Here is how I cut back the calories without losing flavor: pat the wings dry, season with salt, pepper and any other favorite spices, and then a drizzle of oil. Roast them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 400-degree oven until golden and crisp or toss them on the grill. Towards the end of cooking, baste with your sauce of choice. Avoid adding the sauce before cooking; this will often cause the outside of the wings to burn before the inside is cooked.

My husbands likes to combine two methods. First, he bakes the wings in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes and then he moves them to the grill to finish cooking, lightly basting them with a spicy barbecue or hot sauce.

    I’ve been scouting out all kinds of wing recipes; here are a few flavor combos I plan to try:

  • Hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy with honey and ginger
  • Curry powder with mango chutney and chopped pistachios
  • Smoked paprika and hot pepper jelly

TELL US: What’s your secret to perfect wings?

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