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Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken

As the weather turns cooler and life gets more hectic with the kids back at school, it is easy and relatively economical to order Chinese takeout for the family. But, take a look at a menu, and you are overwhelmed with options, most of which are bursting with sodium and saturated fat. Even an option which sounds healthy is typically battered with brown sauce – which can add 500 calories and 4,000 milligrams of sodium to the dish! Many Chinese restaurants will offer “diet-friendly” choices consisting of steamed vegetables with a protein and the sauce on the side. Read: No flavor.

My sweet and sour chicken recipe will give you the Chinese flavor you love without the excess fat and calories. A typical portion can cost you up to 600 calories, 15 grams of fat and 350 milligrams of sodium and is devoid of nutritional value, except for protein from the chicken. By adding broccoli and red pepper to the dish, I am able to boost the vitamin/nutrient content, including vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can fight off free radicals and even help your immune system during the winter months. Although the evidence suggests it cannot prevent a cold, having 500-1,000 milligrams a day of vitamin C can help reduce the severity of cold symptoms. Serve this dish with brown rice, instead of white, to add more fiber, and you’ve got a delicious meal the whole family can enjoy.

Ingredients:

* 4 4-ounce raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
* 1/2 cup chicken stock
* 2 cups broccoli florets
* 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
* 1 cup canned pineapple chunks, fruit and juice
* 3 tablespoons brown sugar
* 3 tablespoons white vinegar
* 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions:

1. In a large skillet, bring chicken and stock to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Add broccoli and red pepper, cook while stirring for about 5-10 minutes.
3. Drain pineapple juice from can and use about 1/3 cup for next step.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together pineapple juice, brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce until blended.
5. Stir mixture into the skillet and bring to a boil.
6. Cook for 2-5 more minutes, stirring continuously.
7. Mix cornstarch with small amount of water and add to simmering skillet to thicken.
8. Add pineapple chunks, simmer until heated through.

Serves 4

Nutrition Content (per serving):

205 calories, 1.2 g fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 9.5 g fiber, 440 mg sodium, 32 g protein, 200 mg vitamin C

Served with 1/2 cup of brown rice:

315 calories, 2 g fat, 45 g carbohydrate, 11.5 g fiber, 34.5 g protein, 200 mg vitamin C

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