Traditional sweet and sour chicken involves deep frying, and if you know deep frying, you’ll know you need oil to do so. That, combined with high-sodium sauces and other ingredients, makes for an unhealthy meal that isn’t exactly diet-friendly.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can never eat sweet and sour chicken again. In fact, you can, with just a few small tweaks to the recipe. But first …
Why to avoid excess oil and sodium for weight loss
Oil and sodium aren’t necessarily bad for you in small doses. In fact, a splash of olive oil can be a good source of fat on some of your meals! However, deep frying involves a lot of oil, and fat, that your body can’t use. And if your body can’t use fats as you eat them, it’s going to be stored as fat.
When you consume too much sodium, you strain your kidneys. The body retains excess water to dilute the sodium as sodium levels rise in the body. Because this increases the volume of blood, it puts pressure on the heart and blood vessels to perform at more strenuous levels.
As you can imagine, this is a problem for older dieters rather than those who are in their 20s or 30s. However, it’s still important to be aware of why lower-calorie options are better for more than just your waistline!
A healthy sweet and sour chicken recipe
The key to taking any unhealthy food and making it healthy is substituting healthier choices for fattening ingredients.
In this healthier version there is no breading on the chicken, but you will still enjoy the sweet and sour flavor that you love! It’s also bulked up by fruits and vegetables like bell peppers and pineapple so that you can enjoy an Asian flavor without the high-sodium, high-fat version you know. Just let your chicken marinate all day while you’re at work or running errands, come home, and it’ll be ready to go!
What you’ll need
For the sauce:
- ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce, or liquid aminos (for an even lower-sodium alternative)
- 1–2 tbsp raw honey, depending on how sweet you want your sauce
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tsp fresh ginger
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional (depending on if you want your sauce spicy!)
For the rest:
- 1¼ lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (chopped into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 red bell pepper (about 1 cup)
- 1 green bell pepper (about 1 cup)
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about ½ to ¾ cup)
- ½ of a fresh pineapple, cubed (about 2 cups)
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice, optional
How to prepare
Whisk together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Place your prepared chicken in a shallow dish, pour the sauce on top, cover, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Flavor is best if marinated for up to 8 hours.
Once your chicken is ready, heat a large non-stick skillet over a medium–high heat. Sauté the chicken, with the marinade, until the chicken is cooked through (about 5 minutes). Add the bell pepper and onion and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes). Add the pineapple and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle the chicken with cilantro and serve with or without brown rice.
Are you ready for a fresh, healthy take on sweet and sour chicken?
Sweet and sour chicken doesn’t have to be packed with fat and sodium. Choose this healthy version to enjoy the taste you love without the health hazards of the traditional dish!