Southern food CAN be healthy: Chicken and Rice

September 14, 2017

Chicken and Rice Recipe by Providence Cooks

By Kay MacInnis, Registered Dietitian

Eating healthy while eating Southern can be done!

I thought I would share one of the recipes from our recent Providence Cooks! class. The class was about making Southern food healthy.  This can be a challenge.

According to a study in the March 2017 issue of the Journal of American College of Cardiology, one of the key ways to have a heart-healthy diet was to avoid dietary patterns characteristic of the Southern United States. That's us!

Southern diets tend to be high in animal products and sweets, which are associated with greater risk of coronary heart disease.

I love a good challenge, so finding recipes to feed my family and friends that still resemble our traditional Southern foods is important.

This is a great recipe to use in place of chicken bog or chicken perlo – no sausage, only chicken. I have taken liberties with the original recipe to decrease the amount of salt and limit the fat by letting the chicken broth chill and skimming the fat off the top. Also by using a salt-free seasoning in place of salt.


(Recipe adapted from Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard.)

Chicken and Rice


  • 1 large hen
  • 3 quarts cool water
  • 1 tsp. salt-free seasoning
  • 2-3 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups rice
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice


  • Place bird in Dutch oven and cover with water.
  • Add salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, bay leaves and salt-free seasoning.
  • Cover and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook for about an hour, or until bird is falling apart.
  • Once the bird is done (falling off the bone) turn off the heat and let rest in broth for 30 minutes.
  • Take chicken out of broth and tear meat into pieces.
  • Discard the skin and bones.
  • Put meat back into pot.
  • Bring the broth and chicken up to a simmer.
  • Add rice.
  • Cook rice and chicken for about 12-15 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, add lemon juice and zest.
  • Add remaining black pepper and serve.

Nutrition information: Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, S.C.

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.