All About Chicken Breast

Easy tips to make the most of this ZeroPoint food.
Published January 12, 2018

It’s time to make chicken breasts exciting again! With the new WeightWatchers® Freestyle program you’ll have plenty of opportunities to experiment with this delicious and versatile protein. Now with a value of zero Points, chicken breasts contain an impressive 37 grams of lean protein and 4.3 grams of fat per 120-gram serving which means you’ll stay full for hours, whether you’re working at the office or embarking on a day full of activity.                                                                                               

A note on even cooking

Chicken breasts can vary in size, which means by the time the thickest part of the breast is cooked the tips and edges will be overcooked and dry. To avoid this all-too-common scenario pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap with a kitchen mallet until flattened and even. This is also a great way to turn a single chicken breast into two servings.

Make a memorable marinade

Chicken breasts are the ultimate blank canvas for all kinds of different marinades. Marinades have two main functions; they add plenty of flavour and ensure the finished chicken breast will be juicy and tender. When it comes to marinades, the sky’s the limit. All that you need to remember is that a marinade begins with two ingredients: an acid and a fat.

Acids have an important function when it comes to marinades, they help to break down muscle and tenderize the meat. Acids can include:

  • Citrus juices (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, and tangerine juice)
  • Vinegars (balsamic, sherry, red or white wine, raspberry, and rice wine vinegar)
  • Wine and spirits (red or white wine, sherry, port, vodka, and tequila)

Fat helps carry the flavour of the marinade forward and it also helps prevent the chicken breast from sticking to any cooking surfaces. Fats can include:

  • Oils (olive, grapeseed, avocado, canola and, dark sesame oil)
  • Dairy or dairy substitutes (yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, and coconut milk)

Once you’ve built a solid foundation with the acid and fat of your choice, it’s time to select the ingredients which will brighten up your marinade. This is the time to experiment with your favourite flavours, combining them with complementary notes or juxtaposing them against one another.

If possible, aim to marinate chicken breasts for at least 4-5 hours (although 30 minutes will do in a pinch). Chicken breasts can be packed into resealable bags and frozen in their marinade, simply defrost in the refrigerator overnight before cooking as usual.

Create some stir fry magic

Stir-frying chicken breasts with a generous selection of fresh or frozen veggies is a fantastic way to combine several zero Points foods into a single satisfying meal. Stir-frying is a technique involving cooking food over very high heat in a small amount of oil. Look for oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, canola or grapeseed oil.

Stir-fry marinades can be made from a large assortment of Asian-inspired ingredients including soy, teriyaki and hoisin sauce, minced ginger and garlic, fresh and dried chilies, dark sesame oil and seasoned rice vinegar.

For easy preparation before stir-frying try freezing the chicken breast for 30 minutes before slicing into thin strips before cooking. For even cooking and crisp-but-tender vegetables stir-fry ingredients in batches, beginning with the chicken and working your way through the vegetables in order from firmest to most delicate.

Get grilling!

Chicken breasts are ideal for grilling, whether they’ve been marinating in your favourite ingredients or lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Grilled chicken breasts can be made ahead of time and added to salads and grain dishes throughout the week. Successful grilling depends on chicken breasts that are of a uniform thickness and pounding them with a mallet will practically guarantee exceptionally juicy chicken.

Serve grilled chicken thinly sliced in a southwestern-inspired salad with plenty of fresh greens, corn, beans, salsa and avocado. Grain-based salads, noodle salads and Greek salads become complete meals when topped with grilled chicken breast.

Looking to add healthy lean protein to your favourite pasta dish? Grilled chicken can turn an ordinary pasta dish into a memorable occasion by adding tons of savoury flavour to keep you feeling full the entire day.

Your questions about ZeroPoint chicken breast answered

When is chicken a ZeroPoint food and when is it not?

The following ARE ZeroPoint foods...

Chicken breast, skinless, boneless, whole, ground or deli-sliced, raw, cooked, or smoked in 0 SmartPoints®-value sauces or spices.
Ground chicken must be labeled “breast” or “extra lean” or at least 98% fat free / 2% fat.
Deli meat should be specifically skinless chicken breast.

If the product contains less than 2% of non-ZeroPoint ingredients (sugar, oil, food starch), it is still considered a ZeroPoint food.

The following are NOT ZeroPoint foods...

Processed, unspecified products such as “deli chicken” which often contain sugar or dark meat—ingredients that are not ZeroPoint foods.

If I remove the skin from roasted chicken breast, is it a ZeroPoint food?

As long as you're eating the breast meat, removing the skin will keep it 0 SmartPoints value.

If chicken breast is used to make jerky, will that be ZeroPoint?

No. Jerky is a dried form of meats and has higher calories per ounce, so it won’t be a ZeroPoint food on the new program. It’s also more of a snack food, so it’s easier to overeat. That’s why we ask members to track it.

How will l I know if my chicken is actually skinless breast or another part of the bird?

Chicken breast is white meat, so if you’re eating a product that is visibly white meat compared to darker meat and is skinless, it will be a ZeroPoint food. The values in your My Day Tracker will be the most up-to-date. If values are not what you expected, it’s likely that food is not actually a ZeroPoint food.

If I use the Barcode Scanner in the WW app on a packaged meal, like an egg and chicken bacon breakfast sandwich, will it automatically remove the ZeroPoint ingredients?

If the packaged food is in our database, the SmartPoints value shown will have the ZeroPoint ingredients removed, assuming they are actually 0. (For example, deli chicken is not a ZeroPoint food.)

Check out our video for an easy chicken-focused weeknight dinner!