Thursday, October 30, 2014

Take Out Fake Out - CLEAN Sweet & Sour Chicken

I have such fond memories of going to a local Chinese restaurant with my parents when I was a teenager. For a while, we went every Friday night, sometimes just us, other times with friends. Good food, great memories!

Knowing what I know now about food, I'm glad I enjoyed it then, because I have to admit, going out for Chinese just makes me feel guilty and can leave me feeling kinda cruddy. Since most Chinese restaurants include MSG in most of their dishes, buffets are nearly impossible if you're highly sensitive. Ordering off a menu can sometimes yield an MSG free entree, but even then your choices can be limited. And soy sauce - while it sounds simple - is far from it, being loaded with sodium and wheat (right? who knew?), what's a Clean Eating Mommy to do? Make it at home, make it quick - and make it TASTY! That's what we do now, so rest assured this recipe is kid-friendly (and husband-friendly, too!).

 Don't let the ingredient list or length of instructions scare you (I'm wordy) - this is almost a one pot meal (well, except the pot you cook the rice in) and goes from start to YUM in about 40 minutes. No Lie.

1lb clean chicken*, more if you prefer, cut up into bite size chunks
2 Tbsp sesame oil or organic sesame oil blend
pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper, optional

16 oz bag frozen stir fry vegetables, or fresh chopped celery, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, Organic (when possible)
1 20 oz can of pineapple, in its own juice
1/4 - 1/2 c white vinegar or rice vinegar (if you have it)
appx 3oz tomato paste or 3-4 Tbsp organic ketchup
1 - 2 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos (this is a soy sauce alternative)
1 - 2 Tbsp Organic honey
1 - 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Starch - you can sub non-GMO cornstarch if you don't have arrowroot on hand
1c organic brown rice, quick cooking or long grain - your preference - cooked according to directions

Start cooking your rice according to package directions.

Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat, add chicken and pepper to taste. Cook the chicken until done all the way through, about 5-7 minutes. Add veggies and cook, stirring, until they are hot and cooked to your liking (I cook mine longer for the little ones). I'm also going to add that I usually toss in extra veggies - there are 5 in our household, and sure the bag says "5 servings" but you can't go wrong adding more vegetables, so if I have another 1/2 bag of frozen broccoli or some mini sweet peppers on hand, I toss them in, too. If you're adding crushed red pepper, for a little heat, you can add it now. We usually don't use it, but I've heard it can be tasty.

When the veggies are done how you like them, add your can of pineapple - juice and all - as well as about 1/4c white vinegar. I usually start slow and add more according to taste. Add tomato paste and stir in, I had 1/2 of a 6oz can that I needed to use up, so that's what I used. You can also substitute Organic (or clean, no High Fructose Corn Syrup) ketchup, adding a couple tablespoons at a time. By using tomato paste your sauce will thicken a bit on its own, if you use ketchup you may need more arrowroot starch. Add your Braggs Liquid Aminow and 1 tbsp Organic honey, stirring in completely. I usually add by taste, if you like your sauce sweeter, add a little more and taste again. Lastly, sprinkle arrowroot powder across the top of your tasty chicken, stir in completely and bring sauce to a boil. If you prefer a thicker sauce, sprinkle more arrowroot and stir in completely again until your sauce is as thick as you prefer.

Serve over rice and enjoy immediately!

*I like to look for a variety of chicken that has been raised vegetarian, non-GMO and has low sodium - less than 100mg/serving is best; for us the cuts don't matter - breast, thigh, bone in, boneless - just so when you make it, you chunk it up boneless; if you have access to Organic, local chicken, that is preferred, but we usually make the best choice we can while staying in our budget :)

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