I’ve been off down memory lane again. This time, sweet and sour chicken gets the healthy treatment. What retro favourite would you revive for diet days?
Last week I got all nostalgic about baked apples stuffed with raisins and spices – a surprisingly healthy indulgence from childhood.
The whole trip down memory lane made me wonder what other long-forgotten delights I was missing out on. I started racking my brains to remember things I loved as a kid that I could reinvent now – with a healthy twist the whole family would like.
First to mind were Angel Delight and Texan bars, which were delicious but probably not the best choice for these diet-friendly purposes. Moving swiftly on, a lightbulb went ping for the then-exotic joy of sweet and sour chicken, spooned gloopily and glowing orange from those thrilling Chinese takeaway cartons.
It was a rare treat, probably granted only when Mum wearily threw down the oven glove and demanded a night off (no kitchen equality in my house back then). It’s somehow tangled up in my mind with Basil Brush on the telly and packet mix lemon meringue pie. Talk about living the dream.
I haven’t had it for ages but with lean chicken always a dieter’s best friend and sweet-savoury flavours very much in vogue, I decided it was worth another try.
This version is packed with fresh veg (you know I’ll always cram them in wherever possible) and sweetened a touch, with just a little honey and a dash of sherry. It doesn’t loom off the plate with that neon orange sauce but with colour from zingy peppers and broccoli, it’s definitely a tasty and cheering plate of food for any diet day.
Sweet and sour chicken
Serves 2 • Ready in 15 mins
2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 small onion, sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
½ head broccoli, cut into small florets
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp clear honey
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp tomato purée
1 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp English mustard
1 tbsp sherry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Place the chicken, onion, pepper, broccoli and garlic in a bowl. Sprinkle over the cornflour and season with salt and pepper. Mix together thoroughly.
• Heat the oil in a wide pan over a medium heat. Toss in the chicken and vegetable mixture and cook, stirring every minute, until just cooked (about 5–7 minutes, depending on size).
• Meanwhile mix the honey, vinegar, tomato purée, soy sauce, English mustard, water and sherry in a small bowl.
• When the chicken is just cooked, stir in the sauce and allow to bubble gently for 2 minutes before serving.
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