Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Orange Chicken, healthier style

I have a confession to make.  I really like the Orange Chicken at Panda Express.  I know, it's ghetto.  I was thinking at one point about changing the name of my blog to Ghetto-delicious.  But alas, that domain name is taken.  Back to my ghetto-ness, I crave PE sometimes, but I am really trying to be good.  We have a month left with this Biggest Loser competition and I'm tellin' ya, this past little while, I haven't been doing so hot.  The opposite of hot, really.  More like cold.  
I am not a huge believer in extreme diets, I really feel that everything in moderation is best (especially chocolate).  Since I believe that, this chicken is healthy and slathered with sugar.  See the moderation?  I looked up the calorie facts and you'll be happy to know that it's still WAY healthier than Panda.  For one serving of orange chicken there it's 420 calories and 21 grams of fat.   (Compared to a piece of this chicken: 271 calories and 4 grams of fat.)

That being said, I didn't feel bad about eating it at all.  I am quite excited to eat leftovers tomorrow.  It might be the highlight of my day unless I find some un-chewed (I have to specify around here) gum in my purse.  Then that changes everything.  Anywho, the bottom line is, if you want a moderately healthy version of orange chicken, this recipe is for you.  If not, it's for me.  And I am cool with that. 

I printed out a recipe that I was going to follow but then it seemed like a lot of work to worry about that stupid piece of paper.  I have said before, when trying to duplicate restaurant recipes, the simpler the better. If they can make an awesome sauce with a few ingredients and cheaply, they will find a way.  I try to think that way myself.  And soon, I might be CEO of Panda Express.  Just wait for it.  This recipe has more of an orange quality than theirs so next time I might leave out the zest, but I also kind of liked it.   I will put a little *optional note by the zest and you can decide what kind of person you want to be.

Healthier Orange Chicken
For the Chicken
8 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins, room temperature (or 3-4 chicken breasts)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup cornstarch (more if needed)
2 eggs 
1 T milk
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (maybe more if needed)
Canola oil spray

*I didn't really measure the cornstarch and bread crumbs, that is just approximate.  I would start with those measurements and just add more the plate if needed.  Once it's had raw chicken in it, it's no good so it's better to add than waste. 

Preheat oven to 425.  Beat eggs with milk in a bowl and dump onto a place, and place cornstarch and bread crumbs on a separate plate.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray thoroughly with canola oil spray.  Rinse chicken and dry.  Place each piece between plastic wrap and pound flat to 1/4 inch.  Salt and pepper chicken.  Dredge in cornstarch and shake off excess, coat both sides with egg mixture and then breadcrumbs.  Place on baking sheet and spray the tops of the chicken with canola oil.  
Bake for 12- 15 minutes, or until chicken is golden and done, turning once.

For the Sauce
1 T olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp orange zest, *optional
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup vinegar
1 T cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
2 T soy sauce
dash red pepper flakes

In a saucepan, heat the oil over med-high heat, add garlic and orange zest and cook 2-3 minutes (don't let the garlic brown).  Mix orange juice, vinegar and cornstarch well, add to pan with sugar and stir.  Add soy sauce and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil and cook 2-3 minutes until thick and bubbly.  You can add the chicken to the saucepan and coat all pieces or you can spoon the sauce over the chicken to serve.  Either way it's good. :)  

Oh, and look it's real white meat in there and not mystery meat.  Yay!! 
You guys still like me even though I am ghetto, right?

My tip for the day:  I have been saving the ends of our bread that no one wants to eat.  I put them in a bowl without a lid and let them dry out.  Then every week or so I run them through the food processor and make bread crumbs.  You can also toast them in the oven if you want them dried out sooner.  You'll never have to buy bread crumbs again.

*For even less calories (166 per piece and 2 grams of fat), you can leave the breading off all together, just pound flat, salt and pepper, canola spray and bake.

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And here's the calorie info.  This is for about 1 piece of chicken (a tenderloin) and sauce.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 151 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 2%Vitamin C 10%
Calcium 4%Iron 6%
Nutrition Grade C+
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional Analysis

Good points
Bad points


  1. Guess what we had for dinner last night? Orange Chicken from PE - plus the crab rangoons!
    I can't wait to try this recipe! We love Orange Chicken!

    1. We must have been on the same page yesterday! It's like we were together almost. :)

  2. That looks great!!! Never tried orange chicken but looks like it's worth it!!

  3. Thank you for this version because I love Panda Express, too! But, it's a huge nutrition no-no. Great post!

    1. I'm glad I am not the only one with the love-hate Panda Express relationship! :)

  4. I am making my grocery list right now and getting stuff for this - can't wait to try it this week!

    1. Michelle, Let me know how it goes!

  5. I made this for dinner tonight! Loved it! My sauce seemed to have a cornstarch texture to it. Did I do something wrong?

    1. By cornstarch texture do you mean lumpy or like it was cloudy and you could taste the cornstarch? If it was lumpy, cornstarch mixes better into cold things, so make sure whatever you are adding it to is cold, sometimes adding as ice cube helps if things are room temp and make sure it's mixed into the liquid until dissolved before adding to the pan. If it has a cornstarch taste, it maybe just needed to be simmered for a couple more minutes, just be careful not to simmer for too long or you will end up with orange flavored candy. :) I am hope that helps, glad you liked it!


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