What’s the one menu item that makes your fingers itch to dial your local Chinese takeout restaurant? Which is the dish that makes your mouthwater and has you dreaming of white cardboard containers, chopsticks, and that sweet and spicy goodness? For many of us, it’s General Tso’s Chicken. First made popular in the kitchens of America’s Chinese restaurants in the 1940’s and 50’s, General Tso’s Chicken is a deep-fried delight that, when prepared at a restaurant, is sure to be loaded with excessive fat and calories, and, depending on the restaurant, a dose of MSG as well.
You can put down the takeout menu, because it’s actually very easy to make this chicken at home, and without the frying and the processed ingredients that make the restaurant version so unhealthy. Simply brown pieces of lean chicken breast with the rest of your ingredients, and toss them in your slow cooker for a cooking process that is light on the prep, and allows you to go about your day as your meal simmers away.
Slow cooking your chicken means that the excess fat, cholesterol, and calories that come with deep-frying are eliminated. And we’ve made some substitutions that retain this dish’s classic flavors, while boosting its nutritional value. Antioxidant-rich red bell peppers are a perfect pairing with your chicken, and even our seasonings are health boosters. Cayenne pepper boasts capsaicin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger aids digestion, is an anti-inflammatory, and has cancer-fighting properties. Enjoy your favorite takeout dish knowing that you’re doing a service to your health and your taste buds!
Yields: 6 servings | Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe or 1-1/4 cups chicken with sauce | Calories: 324 | Total Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 97 mg | Sodium: 630 mg | Carbohydrates: 25 g | Dietary Fiber: 2 g | Sugars: 12 g | Protein: 34 g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 10
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts chopped into bite-sized cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup arrowroot powder/ tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour), plus an additional 2 tablespoons reserved
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white vinegar can substitute)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons honey or coconut palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper *add more if you prefer a spicier sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into strips
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions, only the white part (reserve the green for garnish)
- 1/4 cup chopped scallion greens (about one small bunch)
- Combine all of the dry ingredients to to coat the chicken in a shallow dish, mixing thoroughly. Dip the chicken pieces in until they are coated on all sides, and shake off any excess mixture.
- Over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken pieces, brown on one side for 30 seconds to one minute, and flip to brown on the other side.
- Add all of the sauce ingredients, besides the red pepper strips and white scallion pieces, to the slow cooker and mix well. Once mixed, stir in the bell pepper strips and chopped white scallions.
- Carefully add the chicken to the sauce. Cook on low heat setting for 4 hours.
- Check the chicken 25 minutes before serving. If the sauce has not thickened enough for serving, whisk together a slurry of two tablespoons starch with two tablespoons cold water and slowly stir it into the mix and allow it to cook for the remaining 25 minutes. Add chopped scallion greens to serve.
- Serving suggestions: Serve with a grain such as brown rice, quinoa or soba noodles, and a green such as steamed broccoli, spinach, or kale.
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