The Best Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe

By on September 19, 2013
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There once was a time that I ate the deep fried sugary sticky mess of orange chicken that is served at Panda Express and enjoyed it…a lot. That time was 3 am in college. And it was glorious. But now I’m in the real world. Gone are the days where I can gain a few pounds and blame it on the “freshman 15.” Welcome to adulthood, body! You’re actually gonna love it! I can’t go eating fast food, or staying out until 3am for that matter, without some unfortunate consequences including, but not limited, to a bad hangover and inexplicably shrunken pants (must be the evil pant elves at it again). So now that I’ve kicked those college habits and grown up a little, I’ve realized that my body needs nutrients. Healthy, unprocessed, fresh nutrients. And I can literally feel (and see) how eating clean has affected my body.

However, don’t get me wrong or take me for some clean-green-freaky-deaky food snob. Trust me, I can eat my weight in ice cream. BUT I try to eat as healthy as I can when I can. That’s the trick for me. Stay healthy 90% of the time so when the 10% of “shit-happens” happens…I still feel great.

That all being said…I LOVE Chinese food. I love take-out Chinese food, I love Chinese fusion food, heck, I would love street vendor Chinese food if it was served in America, but thank goodness it isn’t because I might not be able to avoid it and I’ve heard some pretty gross horror stories from friends traveling abroad. You know what I’m talking about… the shit. IN the pants…

So to solve this terrible terrible issue (hashtag firstworldproblems), I challenged myself to make my own healthy Chinese orange chicken recipe. There are tons of recipes floating around on the internet, but this is the best orange chicken recipe. Duh, you found it here. It’s the best. You’ll never need to go to Panda Express again. Pinky promise. (sorry pandas)

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One of the keys to this dish is lightly coating the chicken in flour. It keeps the chicken really moist like they always magically do it in Chinese restaurants and you can’t figure out how. Well, that’s how. This recipe is a little higher in sugar than I would typically indulge in, so it’s definitely not a go-to-every-night kind of dish, but it’s excellent to have if you’re craving some Chinese food but want to stay healthy! I always make extra to save for leftovers for lunches. :)

This recipe is super easy, even your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/child/grandparent/dog who can’t cook can cook this. There’s barely any chopping and most of the ingredients you just mix together in a bowl! Very easy! It makes about 4-5 servings depending on how hungry you are. I use about 3/4 cup for a serving of rice.

Here’e What You’ll Need:

Orange Sauce:

• 9 oz. pulp-free orange juice (not from concentrate)

• 3 tsp cornstarch (this helps thicken the sauce quickly)

• 3 tbsp brown sugar

• 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

• 1 tsp worcestershire sauce

• 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (more or less depending on how citrus-y you want it)

• 3-4 minced garlic cloves (we love our garlic in this household so I did 4 cloves)

• 1/2 tsp salt

 

Everything Else:

• 2 large chicken breasts (chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces)

• 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

• 3 tbsp olive oil or canola oil if you’re afraid of smoking the oil at a high heat)

• 3 handfuls of green beans

• 1 cup dry brown rice

• red pepper chili flakes (optional for spice)

 

Here’s What You’ll Do:

• Bring the brown rice and 1 3/4 cup of water to a boil then let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until done. While it’s cooking start working on the rest of this recipe.

• Cut up the chicken and roll them around in the flour until all the pieces are coated and set aside while you make the sauce

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Chicken coated in flour – Check!

• Whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl (adding more or less lemon to your liking) and set aside. If you’re having trouble squeezing the lemon juice out of the lemon because you don’t have one of those fancy citrus juicer things, then just slice your lemon in half, shove a fork in it and twist it around while squeezing. A lesson learned from juicing hundreds of lemons for homemade margaritas (Mom’s best recipe!).

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Sauce whisked – Check!

• Break off any weird dangling ends of the green beans & toss them then and set aside the beans

• Heat the oil in a large pan on high heat for about a minute then add the chicken pieces. You might have to do 2 batches if you have a smaller pan, in which case only use half the oil the first time and use the second half on the second batch. Cook until they are slightly browned (for about 2 minutes) and set aside.

• In the same pan, add about 1/8 cup of water and put the green beans in it with a lid on for about 3 minutes to steam them. If you don’t have a lid for your big pan, don’t sweat it, just cook them in the water for a little longer, until they are softer but still have a little crunch. Go ahead, taste one to check. You should always taste your food along the way…as long as it’s not raw meat! Gotta make sure what you’re doing doesn’t taste like crap! What a disappointment that would be after all the hard work to sit down and eat. Add about 1/4 cup of sauce and let it thicken around the beans and cook for about 2 more minutes. Then set the beans aside.

• Now add the chicken and the rest of the sauce to the pan and mix well. The sauce will start to thicken after about a minute. Your chicken should be done after that minute, so once it’s nice and syrup-y plate it all on top of the rice. This may seem like a short amount of time to cook raw chicken, but because the pieces are so small they cook quickly, plus the time you give the chicken to rest while you do the veggies allows the pieces to continue to cook even when they are out of the pan. If you don’t let the chicken rest, say you aren’t making any veggies or you already did them, just cook the chicken for about 2 minutes in the pan, then add the sauce and cook for another 3 minutes.

The Best Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe EVER | Follow CaliCooking.com for healthy recipes inspired by the California lifestyle

sauce is bubbling!

There you have it. A healthy, easy, delicious orange chicken recipe that doesn’t clog your arteries!

 

The Best Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe EVER | Follow CaliCooking.com for healthy recipes inspired by the California lifestyle

 

Have you tried this recipe? Or maybe you just want to tell me how awesome I am? Whatever the reason is, express yourself in the comments!

 

18 Comments

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  2. Tara

    May 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Yummy! Added the carrots like someone suggested. Next time will double the veggies- I have a vegetarian that loved them with the sauce!

    • AliDaniel

      October 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks Tara, so glad you enjoyed the recipe! :)

  3. Araceli

    February 4, 2014 at 7:38 am

    How many calories?

  4. Erin miller

    January 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Love this recipe- easy and delicious! However, next time I’ll use canola oil, the olive oil burns too easily on high heat. Thanks Ali!!

    • donna

      January 21, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Or try coconut oil for cooking, adds a nice flavor.

  5. Jana

    January 2, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    This recipe looks spectacular and super easy! I’d like to think i’m a pretty ok cook, but when it comes to any Asian dishes I always fail! This is one I am going to brave through tonight!

    • AliDaniel

      January 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

      It is ridiculously easy! So glad you’re going to try it! Hope it goes over well & enjoy! :)

  6. Tiffany

    December 31, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I made this last night and it was fabulous. Our family of 5 had no leftovers, so next time I will double the recipe.

    • AliDaniel

      December 31, 2013 at 11:25 am

      So glad you and your family enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Gabe

    December 21, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I made this for a project in school (we were supposed to make fast food, but healthier) and it was voted among the top ten best tasting in the class.
    thank you!

    • AliDaniel

      December 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Thanks Gabe glad you enjoyed it! Keep up the healthy cooking ;)

  8. Robin

    November 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Made this last night, a big hit! Thanks.

    • AliDaniel

      November 4, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      thanks for sharing Robin! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  9. Linda Cowles

    September 30, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Made this tonight for dinner and it was great! The only thing I changed was, I didn’t have green beans so I used snow peas, carrot slices and small broccoli heads. The family said the recipe is a keeper!

    • AliDaniel

      September 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      So glad you and your family enjoyed it, Linda! Thanks so much for letting me know! :)

  10. Jason

    September 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Sounds tasty! Can’t wait to try this one. Stuff you Panda!

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