Kung Pao Chicken, also known as Gong Bao Chicken or Sichuan Chicken with Peanuts, is one of the most popular Chinese dishes. Its origin dates back to the Qing Dynasty and it has been enjoyed by food lovers ever since. Kung Pao chicken is a delicious blend of diced chicken, vegetables, peanuts with a spicy sauce that makes your taste buds come alive. However, many people wonder if this tasty dish can be considered healthy? In this article, we will explore whether kung pao chicken can be part of a healthy diet.
What is kung pao chicken?
Traditionally made in the Sichuan province in China using Sichuan peppercorns (hua jiao) and dried red chili peppers, Kung Pao Chicken was named after Ding Baozhen who was an official from the Qing dynasty. The authentic recipe consists of stir-frying diced chicken breast pieces along with specially prepared pepper paste made from Sichuan peppercorns and chilies which give the dish its distinct flavor and spiciness.
Is kung pao chicken nutritious?
The nutritional content of Kung Pao Chicken depends on how it’s prepared and what ingredients are used to make it. Some recipes call for deep frying the meat while others might have more additives like sugar and artificial colorings which result in an unhealthier meal. One serving size usually contains around 350 calories when combined with rice or noodles although amounts vary depending on location or restaurant.
Despite being high in calories due to its sauce containing sugar & flour slightly increasing carb count – some versions are wholesomely balanced meals that include lean protein from white meat such as skinless roasted/baked/grilled/sautéed/stir fry boneless-enough 1 inch cubes’ commonly marinated beforehand – choice veggies packed vitamins-minerals-fiber-antioxidants like bell peppers/onions/celery/zucchini/mushrooms/vinegar-cucumbers, spices such as garlic-ginger-Sichuan peppercorns-chili flakes whereas unsalted peanuts are also-a natural source of good fat along with omega 3 and 6.
On the other hand, some recipes might contain ingredients like soy sauce which has sodium so adding any more salt will make it an unhealthy meal but using coconut or amino acid being light on sodium does wonders while keeping a robust umami flavor.
Moreover, certain variations can be lactose intolerant friendly by subtituting heavy cream cheese for whipped Greek yoghurt to cut back saturated fats that aid in gut flora. Making a homemade version which is low-carb-good-fat high-protein dish compared to take-out options puts you in control of what goes into it & at the same time gives you leftovers so no need for instant gratification!
Health benefits of kung pao chicken
Kung Pao Chicken features ingredients which offer some health benefits since peppers contain capsaicin providing anti-inflammatory and pain-relief while boosting metabolism also reducing risks of heart-attack/be stroke whereas Sichuan peppercorns help digestion-quell inflammation/aid mental alertness-reduction – one tablespoon (10g) contains about 15% vitamin C needed in daily diets. Peanuts, another important ingredient used in Kung Pao Chicken provides protein-fiber-vitamins-minerals especially the essential trace mineral magnesium concerned with both muscular relaxation/bone density maintenance; magnesium deficiencies have been associated with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis likewise Zinc-rich properties from sesame seeds immersed earlier provide immune support-cellular growth related healthy skin/hair/nails however nutritional values depend on preparation/cooking mode/serving size levels correspondingly .
Even though kung pao chicken uses chili oil as seasoning if consumed regularly offers several health impacts including weight management-better blood sugar levels-lower bad cholesterol amplified energy focus due to providing a plethora of macro/micronutrients as discussed earlier.
Tips and tricks for making kung pao chicken healthier
– Use skinless chicken breast meat without bones since they are low in saturated fat/calories offering good quality protein-potassium substitution also simple plain or substituted with other flours (almond/oat/coconut) can be used.
– Cut back on sugar as much as possible by using natural sweeteners like honey/agave/maple syrup instead of refined granulated sugars-diabetic patients can avoid it altogether likewise soy sauce preferring coconut amino sauce/vinegar adds tangy flavor minus salt-preserve leading towards hypertension etc.
– Increase the number of veggies adding to Kung Pao Chicken, bell pepper/zucchini/onions/shredded carrot/broccoli/cauliflower/water chestnuts/lower carb fruits like pineapple/beans reduces calories-carbs while packing nutrients thus boosting immune system functions/fiber intake – having more phytonutrient loading your belly than just empty calories.
– Deep-fried food increases harmful trans/polyunsaturated fats so substitute frying technique via air fryer | high heat grilling over charcoal.
– Go easy on the portion size keeping an eye on calorie intake often exceeds recommended daily dose (2000 for women/2500 men RDA).
Conclusively, there is no doubt that kung pao chicken definitely has health benefits being consumed with adequate caution whilst adapting recipe substitutes same yet maintaining original umami flavors makes it both mouth-watering-hale hearty dietitian-approved dish overall. It’s important not to categorize certain foods completely unhealthy omitting them from diets; if eaten sporadically moderately one enjoys its richness without compromising nutrition values!