Healthy Meal of the Week: Orange Chicken, Brown Rice and Broccoli
Leftover Idea: Orange Chicken Bowl
I was turned on to Panda Express a couple of years ago and I started to occasionally taste the Asian cuisine from time to time. I have to admit my favorite meal to get is orange chicken with beef and broccoli along with brown rice. These two are among the healthier choices available at Panda Express and for those of you that get Chinese food from time to time, I’m sure these two options are most likely offered at your spots.
Funny thing is, to make orange chicken at home, it’s not difficult if you can find the ingredients at your local supermarket. I went after work to my neighborhood Vons to look for the ingredients to make an orange glazed sauce I found on the Internet which uses maple syrup, orange zest, coconut aminos, and a few other items. However since they did not sell orange zest the attendant directed me to an aisle with Asian spices. To my surprise I found a few bottles of orange sauce made by different companies, one even by Panda Express which I really wanted to try, but instead opted for a gluten-free option. We’ll see how it goes.
You’ll find when you combine orange chicken with brown rice and broccoli, you will have a meal that is healthy and one that’s easily portable so you can take with you to lunch for the following day.
Another interesting idea I’m testing today is a pack of “Ready Rice”. This particular brand I purchased by Uncle Ben’s is natural whole grain brown rice that cooks in the microwave in 90 seconds. I know my parents use this option not only to save time but since the rice cooks in its own container, clean up is simply throwing the bag away when it’s empty. No scrubbing, no washing, no dishes to do. We’ll see how this compares to regular brown rice. The only downside to this rice is that a pack which equates to two cups of rice costs $2.29 which is quite steep when you compare that to buying regular rice in the bag.
– pan/skillet for cooking chicken
– pot for broccoli
– microwave for ready rice
– 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
– 1 bag frozen broccoli (or fresh if you prefer)
– 1 bottle Orange Sauce
– 1 bag Whole Grain Brown Ready Rice
seasonings salt, pepper, garlic powder, & 1 tbsp butter
For Leftover Orange Chicken Bowls:
– Plastic travel container
1. The first and most important component of this meal is the chicken. It also is the part that takes the longest to prepare so let’s take care of that first. You can choose to cut the chicken into small chunks beforehand which will save you cooking time, however it may be more difficult to flip each individual piece every 3-4 minutes of cooking time. I elected to cook the boneless chicken breast whole and cut into chunks afterwards. I did make a length-long slice into the chicken to help it cook quicker, but that still allowed me to flip the piece easily. Don’t forget to add your seasonings you want to include. For this example seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a sprinkle of oregano was used.
2) While chicken is nearly finished you can boil the water to use for the broccoli pieces. If desired add a tablespoon of butter and a sprinkle of seasoned salt for flavor. Once water is boiling add the broccoli and let boil for 8-10 minutes.
3) Once the chicken is nearly finished cooking, remove from pan and slice into small bite-sized chunks. Once you have all the chicken sliced and diced, place back into the pan and add the orange sauce. Start with a small amount of sauce since it will be easier to add more later if need be. Stir the sauce into the chicken chunks keeping heat on medium/low. Once you have the desired amount of sauce with the chicken pieces allow the mixture to cook/simmer for another 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally.
4) Last but not least, for the Ready Rice bag all that needs to be done is to tear open the side and pull the corner back 2 inches. You don’t even need to add any water. Simply stand the bag erect in the center of your microwave and cook on high for 90 seconds. Surprising as it sounds, the rice came out tasting perfectly not too dry and not too wet.
5) Serve an appropriate portion of rice, broccoli, and orange chicken. If there is sauce leftover in the pan, you may want to pour a couple spoonfuls either on top of the chicken or the rice depending on your preference and how well you like your food flavored. Enjoy!
Leftover Meal Idea: Since you have all the ingredients to make a wonderfully tasting orange chicken bowl, let’s go ahead and do that. What makes this meal so great for lunch is that everything is simply tossed into a plastic travel container so there is literally not one single extra thing you need to do other than microwave it at work if you want. So toss in a scoop of rice along with some broccoli, add some orange glazed chicken and even a spoonful of extra sauce on top, cover and store in your refrigerator until tomorrow.