Recently, a family member requested a sugar-free stir fry sauce. One member of the household is diabetic, and one has gout so of course, I fulfilled their request. What I came up with was a healthy chicken recipe. This healthier version of chicken and broccoli is low on the glycemic index with only eight net grams of carbs and four ounces of chicken per serving making it both diabetic and gout-friendly. Best of all, it tastes pretty good.
Back in December of 2012, I posted this video of a similar recipe that had 25 grams of carbohydrates per serving with only 3 grams of fiber and, to top it off, came in at 884 grams of sodium per serving so there was room for improvement. According to Fitbit, 2 cups of restaurant chicken and broccoli has 19 grams of carbs with 2 grams of fiber.
This healthier version has 12 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and only 298 grams of sodium. It’s still not as healthy as eating cardboard but I am NOT going to eat cardboard
Thickener: For the unhealthy version I used cornstarch to thicken the sauce and in the marinade. Cornstarch has 7 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, so it can definitely spike blood sugar. My search for a low carb thickener led me to Thick-It-Up which is made from locust bean, (and/or tara), guar, acacia, and xanthan gums. Better yet, it has zero net carbs!
Chicken: Chicken thighs are used in this recipe since the cut is very forgiving, but this diabetic recipe will definitely work with chicken breast. This version skips the marinade to keep the recipe diabetic-friendly. The previous version used soy sauce, cornstarch, and rice wine to marinate.
Sesame oil: Roasted sesame oil lends a nice flavor to this healthy chicken recipe. I always add it at the end of cooking since the oil loses most of its flavor when added early.
Soy sauce: This is just plain ol’ soy sauce. We will use it sparingly to keep the sodium level low.
Aromatics: For aromatics, we used garlic, ginger, and onion.
Bell pepper: Mostly for color but also a texture contrast. Red bell peppers have more carbohydrates than green bell peppers so if you really need to watch your carbohydrate intake, use green bell peppers.
Broccoli: Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse and is very economical this time of the year. As part of my food prep, I blanch a bunch of it on the weekend then it is ready to go. Blanching broccoli before adding it to a dish keeps it nice and green.
To blanch broccoli, bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water heats, prepare your broccoli by cutting the florets off the stem and place a large bowl of ice water close to the stove. Then, add the florets to rapidly boiling water. After the water returns to a boil, cook the florets for two to three minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the boiling water and place into the ice water. Transfer the broccoli to a colander to drain once cooled.
White pepper: It has a brighter flavor and is not as sharp as black pepper.
Low-sodium vegetable broth: This is where checking labels come in. I was really surprised by the variety of ingredients. Find one that has a good balance of healthy ingredients and flavor. Of course, it would be best to make your own but not everyone has time to do that. If you’re curious about how I make mine, this vegetable soup recipe shows how I do it.
Sugar free stir fry sauce
One of the difficulties in coming up with a diabetic-friendly recipe was hidden carbohydrates in the sauce. One tablespoon of hoisin sauce has 7 grams of carbohydrates. Oyster sauce only has 2 grams but is not gout-friendly, so I decided to go with a very basic sauce. The sauce will pick up most of its flavor from the garlic and ginger.
To make your low-carb stir fry sauce, measure out one cup of vegetable broth then add soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and Thick-It-Up. Give it a good stir then set aside. This diabetic recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon which is what I used. It was a measured level teaspoon, but next time I’ll use a slightly rounded teaspoon.
Once everything is prepared, it is time to start cooking. First, add the oil to a pan and place over medium-high heat. My preference for stir-frying is peanut oil. After adding the oil, add the ginger and garlic. They are added early to flavor the oil but do not let them burn.
When the ginger and garlic are fragrant, add the onion and bell pepper. Stir them around for a bit then push everything to the side.
Add the chicken to the middle of the pan. Use your spatula to spread the chicken out in an even layer. Let it sit for a minute or so. This will help develop some color on the exterior. After a minute, flip it over to develop color on the other side. Then start to stir things around until the outside of the chicken no longer looks raw.
Once the outside of the chicken no longer looks raw, increase the heat to high and add the stir fry sauce. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for three minutes. This will slightly reduce the sauce. Your chicken should be almost done at this point. If the sauce is still really thin, add more of the Thick-It Up but only a little at a time. A little of this stuff goes a long way.
Add the broccoli and heat all the way through. This should take about two minutes.
This is how the dish looked when it was done. It was served over riced cauliflower (not included in the nutritional info).
My YouTube video.
Healthy chicken and broccoli stir fry recipe
- 1 Cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon Soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon White pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Thick it up 1/4 to 1/3 third teaspoon
- 8 oz chicken thighs or breast, boneless and skinless
- 2 Cups Broccoli Blanched
- 1/3 Cup Bell Pepper Sliced
- 1/3 Cup Onion Sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Peanut oil
Blanch the broccoli
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Prepare the broccoli by cutting the florets from the stem. Cut any large florets in half. They should be bite-sized pieces.
- Place a large bowl of ice water close to the pot of boiling water.
- Add the florets to rapidly boiling water and cook for two to three minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the broccoli from the boiling water and place into the ice water.
- Transfer to a colander to drain once cooled.
Make the sauce
- Add 1 teaspoon soy sauce, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, and ¼ teaspoon Thick-It-Up to the cup of vegetable broth
- Give it a good stir
- Set the sauce close to your stove.
- Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil, 1 tablespoon garlic, and 1 tablespoon ginger to a pan over medium-high heat..
- When you can smell ginger and garlic, add the onion and bell pepper. Stir them around for a bit then push everything to the side.
- Add the chicken to the center of the pan and spread in an even layer.
- Let the chicken sit for a minute or so to develop some color on the exterior then flip it over to develop color on the other side.
- Start to stir things around until the outside of the chicken no longer looks raw.
- Increase the heat to high and add the stir fry sauce. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for three minutes.
- Add the broccoli and heat all the way through.