“The heart wants what it wants,” Jessica said to me after we noticed how few light recipes we have on this site. The revelation came as we were brainstorming what dishes to feature under the “Fresh & Light Favorites” sidebar on our homepage. We found a couple of truly healthy posts, but ended up including cheese-laced salads, too, which is kind of cheating. There’s no denying that we’re partial to the tasty taste (after all, we named our blog butter poached), but we like things that are healthy, too. The trouble is that it’s a lot harder to find dishes that are delicious enough to write about AND can be categorized as Good for You. Naturally, when I found Gimme Some Oven’s Skinny Orange Chicken to be satisfying, full of flavor, and downright blog-worthy, my heart skipped a beat.
This recipe can fairly be called healthy because the chicken is stir-fried in just a little bit of oil rather than breaded and fried like the takeout variety of orange chicken. Instead of the primary flavors coming from fat, they come from orange, honey, ginger, soy sauce, and garlic. The result is a bright, lively, sweet-savory weeknight dinner that also happens to be a cinch to prepare. You whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl, stir-fry the broccoli, then the chicken, then pour the sauce over everything and cook until the sauce thickens.
I like this chicken because it’s not a Debbie Downer. Most “light” dishes taste like sacrifice: each bite is low-cal, low-fat, low-fun. By contrast, there is nothing ho-hum about this recipe—it has a fierce orange flavor and a garlicky punch. Another winning quality: the sauce is ample and thick. No scraping the skillet for one more drop of glaze to help you get through the rest of the white rice; there’s enough sauce for first-helpings, seconds, and left-overs. An all-around winner, this healthy orange chicken and broccoli is just what my heart wants right now.
fresh and light orange chicken and broccoli
adapted from Gimme Some Oven
You can definitely use store-bought orange juice for this recipe, but if you’re tempted by the mounds of oranges on sale this winter, fresh-squeezed juice makes an even livelier dish (and you’ll need the zest of an orange anyway, so you might as well use at least the juice of that orange).
Serve this with rice or quinoa; makes about 4 servings.
for chicken & broccoli
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets (about 2 – 3 cups)
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup orange juice (about 1.5 oranges)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce (regular is fine, too)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (OR 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
zest from 1 orange
big pinch of red pepper flakes
optional garnish [these are pretty, but are by no means essential]
toasted sesame seeds
1. Prepare the sauce: whisk together all sauce ingredients in a medium bowl.
2. Stir-fry the broccoli: heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add broccoli. Stir and toss for 2 to 4 minutes, until broccoli is bright green, but still crisp-tender. Remove broccoli to a separate bowl.
3. Stir-fry the chicken: generously salt and pepper the cut-up chicken pieces. Add another tablespoon or so of oil to the skillet and continue to heat over medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Cook the chicken for 4 to 6 minutes, until lightly browned and just about cooked through.
4. Add the broccoli to the pan with the chicken. Whisk the orange sauce again to make sure the cornstarch hasn’t clumped or settled out of the mixture. Pour the sauce over the chicken and broccoli. Simmer, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens to your liking (2 to 3 minutes). Make sure you are stirring at the edges of the pan to prevent the sauce from caramelizing.
5. Serve over rice and top with a sprinkle each of toasted sesame seeds and scallions.