The kids are back in school, things at work have returned to full-tilt after a slow summer, and you're hungry.
Stop. Put down that Chinese takeout menu. After all, do you want an expanding waistline to add to your list of worries?
The October/November issue of Eating Well magazine adapts an American takeout favorite, sweet-and-sour chicken, stripping it of its usual high load of sugar, calories and saturated fat. Prepared with brown rice, apricot preserves and plenty of vegetables, it promises satisfaction without sin.
It takes 35 minutes to make, and without deep frying, minimizes cleanup.
Sweet and sour chicken with brown rice
2 cups instant brown rice
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons finely grated or minced ginger
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 cups bite-size pieces of mixed vegetables, such as snow peas, broccoli and bell peppers
One 5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
Prepare rice according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and apricot preserves in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink on the outside and just starting to brown in spots, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining oil, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add vegetables, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in water chestnuts and the chicken. Whisk the reserved sauce and add to the pan. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is heated through, about 1 minute. Serve with the rice. Makes 4 servings.