So I’m back! Every time this year I attend the Food and Nutrition Conference organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association). As I am the President of the International Affiliate (American Overseas Dietetic Association), I attend the conference and participate in several of the activities there. I’ll be sharing my experiences in the next post, but for now I need talk about one of my favorite Greek meat recipes: Kotopoulo Kokkinisto. While I look forward to visiting the U.S., after a few days I do miss the tastes of Greece, and one of them is the kokkinista dishes. Kokkinisto, refers to the method of cooking in tomato sauce. Kokkino means red and kokkinisto mean reddened. A large number of dishes in Greece are kokkinista: almost all summer vegetables are cooked in a combination of tomato, olive oil, herbs and spices. Examples include okra, green beans and eggplant. But meats are often cooked in tomato sauce as well. Kotopoulo kokkinisto is a common favorite, and I remember both my grandmothers occasionally making this dish, usually on Sundays or other special occasions, by using their own chickens from the yard.
But apart from the flavor, this dish is healthy. Studies have shown that when tomato is cooked with olive oil, the absorption of lycopene in increased. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that may protect from cancer and heart disease. Also it is important to know that even cooked tomatoes retain some of the vitamin C, and the presence of vitamin C from the tomatoes increases your absorption of iron from the meat. The amount of olive oil used in this recipe is actually small, corresponding to less than a tablespoon per person, so you are getting a dish moderate in fat and rich in protein and antioxidants. I tend to add more tomatoes than usual so I can incorporate another serving of vegetables to the dish. This can be accompanied with potatoes or other starch such as pasta or rice. I used brown rice (cannot really tell in the photo), but sometimes we just make the chicken and accompany it with some salad and a slice of bread.