Teriyaki Free Range Chicken with Summer Squash

By: Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH

You hear a lot about humanely raised and free range chicken. Read on to find out more about the differences and benefitsYou know organic foods are said to be better for you and for the planet, but foods that are labeled organic such as free range chicken are more expensive, and your food budget is limited. It can be difficult to justify the extra expense. Here are some reasons to consider taking another look at your budget and figuring out a way to stretch it for some more organic foods.

Conventionally grown produce is loaded with pesticides, herbicides, and various other toxins, while conventionally grown meat and milk is loaded with antibiotics and growth hormones, not to mention the pesticides and herbicides consumed from conventionally grown feed. This doesn’t factor in genetic modification, or additives that go in during processing. Yum, right? All of these toxins take a toll on the body and interfere with the body’s ability to keep itself healthy and ward off illness.

1. Organic food is nutritionally superior – Conventionally grown produce is often grown in depleted soil, while animals grown for meat are raised in very crowded conditions and fed diets devoid of good nutrition. The chemicals used are intended to keep these plants and animals growing and producing in conditions where this would be impossible otherwise. Organically grown food, because it is grown without chemicals, must be grown in superior conditions. Food that is grown in healthy conditions will naturally contain more nutrients. Organically grown eggs and meat (especially lamb and chicken) are also higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Growth hormones and antibiotics in food affect the body – Growth hormones in meat can cause children to physically mature faster, causing them to enter puberty younger. A huge majority of antibiotics used are given to livestock, which may lead to an imbalance in gut flora, yeast overgrowth, and many allergies.

3. Organic foods are leaner – Because of living conditions (conventionally grown animals get little or no exercise) and the chemicals they are fed, nonorganic meat is fattier than organically grown meat. Studies show that organic meats are lower in saturated fat and higher in polyunsaturated fat than their counterparts.

Free range chicken and other organic foods are worth the cost and effort. Make sure you eat healthy to promote you body's health4. Organic foods taste better – Have you ever bitten into a garden-grown tomato? Remember the delectable tomato taste? Conventionally grown foods have very little flavor compared to their organically grown counterparts. This is partly due to the superior conditions in which they’re grown, and partly due to a lack of toxins.

5. Organic foods can help protect against toxic heavy metals – Conventionally grown foods are much more likely to contain heavy metals, while organic foods contain nutrients the body can use to remove heavy metals.

If you simply can’t afford to buy all organic, focusing on a few specific foods will make the biggest impact on your health. Once you get started, you’ll likely find that you start feeling better. You might even find that, by getting more nutrition and flavor from your food, that you need to eat less. When trying to decide what foods to buy organic, focus on foods that are not usually peeled before eating, such as apples and celery. Much of the chemicals in conventionally grown foods are found on the outside, so removing a skin or rind will remove much of the toxins.

Ingredients A:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless natural or free range chicken breasts or 5 boneless, skinless natural or free range chicken thighs, cut into 1-in cubes
  • 1½ cup pearl barley
  • 1 medium carrot – diagonally sliced (see explanation below)
  • 1 garlic clove, snap crushed with blade of knife

While most recipes can be made better with free range chicken, starting with a healthy recipe is where free range chicken works bestIngredients B:

  • 2 medium zucchini, diagonally sliced, (see explanation below)

Teriyaki sauce:

  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey, maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tsp corn starch

Ingredients D:

  • ¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. To cut the carrot or zucchini. Cut diagonally from the small end. Turn the carrot one quarter toward you, and slice diagonally again. Turn the carrot another quarter toward you and slice again. Continue to slice until you reach the head of the carrot.
  2. In a small bowl mix in all the Teriyaki Sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In a wok, stir-fry Ingredients A over medium to high heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally. About 6-8 minutes.
  4. Microwave or steam Zucchini for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in Teriyaki sauce to the chicken and carrots. Stir for about 1-2 minutes until the sauce is thickened.
  6. Turn off the heat. Add in the zucchini and mix well.
  7. Serve over brown rice.

Serves 6
Calories: 397 calories
Fats: 7 g
Protein: 35 g
Carbohydrates: 49 g