Updated: July 25, 2013

"Chicken again?" That's the familiar weeknight question heard from millions of bored chicken eaters nationwide, especially during summer when everyone wants to eat lighter. But just because chicken is a quick fix doesn't mean it has to be boring. It just needs to be different.

Chicken's popularity stems from its ease of preparation and versatility. You can serve it with pasta, rice or potatoes. Grilled, roasted or stir-fried. With sauce or in solitary splendor. As a sweet dish or savory. Too many people stick with the same old broiled breast, week after week. They think they're saving time and energy, when they're really just being stingy with their creativity. Yet with a few simple ingredients, many already at hand, you can whip up sensational and nutritious chicken meals.

Skinless chicken is an excellent source of high-quality, low-fat protein. Half a breast (about 3-4 ounces) offers 27 grams of protein, 142 calories and just 3 grams of fat. A drumstick has 13 grams of protein, 76 calories and 2 grams of fat; a thigh has 14 grams of protein, 109 calories and 6 grams of fat. Add herbs, spices, low-fat sauces, broths or part-skim dairy products to enjoy a healthy, innovative chicken feast any night of the week, all summer long. And next time you hear the "chicken-again?" question, smile and answer, "Absolutely!"

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