From Dr. Jonny: One reason we get addicted to food is added sugar. Barbecue sauce is an excellent case in point. It’s absolutely loaded with sugar, making it much easier to eat then bargained for. Our version is just as flavorful as any you’ve ever tasted, but with less than half the typical amount of added sugar. Listen we all like chicken legs-they’re classic comfort food, taking us back to those halcyon days of summer picnics and family reunions. (Okay, maybe the wonderful reunions were not so wonderful, but still).

Hint: Feel free to use the dark meat; the benefits of white meat over dark meat have been overstated. There are only about 30 calories of difference between 4 ounces (115 g) of white and 4 ounces (115 g) of dark meat, plus they have the same amount of protein, so enjoy!

Yields 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (245 g) tomato sauce or low-sugar organic ketchup – organic to avoid high-fructose corn syrup)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider, apple juice, or applesauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sucanat, sugar, or xylitol, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper, to taste (start with less and increase for more heat and smoke)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 to 10 chicken drumsticks (about 2 pounds, or 905 g)
  1. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomato sauce, cider, vinegar, sugar substitute, dry mustard, chile pepper and salt; whisking gently to combine well. Keep just at a simmer (reduce the heat to low if necessary) and cook, stirring ocassionally for about 20 minutes (and up to 40 minutes over low heat – flavour will deepen with longer cooking time). Adjust the seasonings, if necessary, and remove from the heat. Puree until smooth in a blender (use caution: it’s hot) or using an immersion blender (place sauce in a deep bowl to prevent splattering).
  2. While the sauce is cooking, preheat the grill to medium (or preheat the broiler) Make two diagonal cuts across the meaty part of each drumstick. Place the drumsticks on a lightly oil grill or broiler pan and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the heat, baste with the barbecue sauce to taste, and serve.

Yields 4 servings

Per serving: 442 calories; 23.3 g fat (47% calories from fat); 45 g protein; 10.6 carbohydrate; 1.2 g dietary fiber; 183.7 mg cholesterol; 657 mg sodium

– from the book, “The 150 Healthiest Comfort Foods on Earth,” by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Jeanette Bessinger, C.H.H.C.

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