Forget takeout, this is FAKEout! I’m kicking off the weekend with one of my absolute favorite dinners, this healthy, Paleo and Whole30 Orange Sesame Chicken, served with perfectly steamed broccoli. The orange hoisin sauce is 100% amazing. When you eat it, it really feels like a special occasion!
Because whenever Friday night rolls around, I can’t help but to think about something a little more fun for dinner… and still feel like a rock star after!
Making the Recipe Healthy
I came up with this as a real food (read: Paleo and Whole30) version of my classic takeout favorite. And not to brag, but I’m getting pretty good at re-inventing classic Chinese takeout recipes (just check out my Kung Pao Chicken, Chicken Pad Thai, or Egg Roll in a Bowl recipes).
But the best part? My kids LOVE it. They really love it. They can be picky sometimes, sure, but they like this Orange Chicken recipe a lot. And it makes me really happy to see them enjoying good meals made with whole ingredients.
A little background
A few years back, when I first made this Whole30 and Paleo Orange Sesame Chicken and Broccoli, I was really struggling with food boredom during my very first round of Whole30. For days, I lost my appetite completely, felt super blasé about pretty much everything, and it just didn’t seem to end.
I had stumbled onto a very common Whole30 mistake: Food Boredom.
I was preparing pretty much the exact same foods and flavors, over and over. And over. And over. I wasn’t going out of my comfort zone at all with my meals. Eggs for breakfast. Tuna for lunch. Burgers for dinner. Even when I switched things up a little, the flavors were pretty much the same. Lots of garlic, hot sauce, EBB seasoning, and that was it.
Of course I was getting burnt out!
I should add, I was already feeling better in a lot of ways at that point. My rosacea was clearing up on my face and in my eyes, my joint pain was manageable, and I was starting to feel that Tiger Blood burst of energy, BUT I just didn’t want to eat anything. I had food aversions to just about every single thing in my fridge. I wanted to quit!
Even with all the benefits of the Whole30 program I’d already started experiencing, the pleasure of preparing and eating food was disappearing. So there I was, 12 days in to my Whole30 and wondering why I wasn’t able stay motivated or focused on my goals.
I still had trouble willing myself to do anything about the problem, though. Wasn’t it enough that I willingly gave up bread, my absolute favorite thing ever?? I mean, seriously, what else did I have to do? Side note: The book Food Freedom Forever hadn’t yet been released at that point — but when I read it, there were soooo many more “ah hah!” moments.
I finally mustered up the resolve to stay the course and to do something about it. I’d have to put some more work in. That if the whole point was to feel good, it was worth it. For the last few weeks, I thought… I’ll just try at least one new recipe per week. To Pinterest, I went.
And I was inspired! I saw people out there were actually recreating their favorite recipes, but in a healthy way! Just picture a giant lightbulb appearing on top of my head, because that’s exactly what it felt like. Eating Paleo and Whole30 doesn’t have to be boring! And because Chinese takeout has always been a favorite of mine, I started there. And this Whole30 Orange Sesame Chicken recipe was born!
It was hard, of course. To push myself when I didn’t feel like pushing. It still is!
There are so many days when I just don’t have it in me. But it’s important to me to at least try, and most of the time, it helps. And the times I don’t push myself? Well, that’s okay too. Part of my food freedom is letting go of any kind of guilt that surrounds my food choices. If I get burnt out on flavor and texture now, I’ll do my best to re-evaluate, but I also know that it’ll eventually pass either way.
How I Stay Inspired:
- Pinterest is an awesome tool to find great new recipes to infuse some fun into the routine! If you’re looking for new ideas to add to the rotation or to find some cooking inspiration, hit me up up Pinterest, and follow me while you’re there– I only pin clean & mouthwatering recipes!
And just so you know, when I try a new recipe, it’s not always a hit. Sometimes I discover something really great, which is basically the most exciting thing in my world. Okay, maybe not the most exciting thing, but still, it gives me a little thrill.
And the times it’s a total failure, I just remind myself to try again, that the struggle is part of the journey, and that it’s worth it. And you know what? It gets a little easier. This new frame of mind is a big NSV in my book, and it definitely carries over into my food freedom!
So every time I make my Whole30 Orange Chicken & Broccoli recipe, I’m reminded of my first round of Whole30, and making it is a friendly nod to that girl who found the courage to try the Whole30 and really put in the work to make it work for her. So thanks, 2014 Laura. I owe ya one!
Okay, now back to the recipe!
What Are People Saying About It?
My Paleo and Whole30 Orange Sesame Chicken and Broccoli recipe is definitely a winner – it’s actually my most popular recipe to date, and it always gets great reviews!
“Made this for dinner and it was THE BOMB! …it will be on repeat for sure!!!!” – Lisa
“One of my favorite recipes of all time!!!” – Annie
“This is one of my FAVORITE recipes!! My boyfriend and I discovered it on our whole30 last year and immediately put it to the top of this year’s Whole30 recipe queue.” – Lauren
Pin it for later:
Have you made this healthy orange chicken recipe before? Drop a star rating below, and let me know what you thought of it! And be sure to check out some of my other Whole30 Compliant Recipes:
- French Onion Pork Chops (Whole30, Low Carb)
- Bacon Loaded Parsnip Fries (Whole30)
- Shrimp Fra Diavolo (Whole30, Low Carb)
- Asian Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Kebabs (Whole30, Low Carb)
Whole30 Orange Sesame Chicken and Broccoli
Try this a great dinner recipe for a clean and delicious Whole30 take on Chinese takeout. Not only is it kid friendly and super flavorful, but it's really easy and it always gets rave reviews!! The sauce freezes perfectly, too – just double the recipe and save half for another day!
Chicken & Broccoli
- 2 lbs chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1 cup orange hoisin sauce see below⠀
- 4 cups broccoli florets⠀
- 1 tsp salt⠀
- 1 tsp pepper⠀
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 green onions, sliced
Orange Hoisin Sauce ⠀
- 2 tbsp compliant almond butter⠀ or substitute cashew butter or sunflower seed butter
- zest and juice of 1 orange ⠀
- 2 cloves garlic⠀
- ½ inch peeled ginger, about 1 tsp
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar⠀
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste⠀
- 3-4 dates⠀
- ¼ cup coconut aminos⠀
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice
- 2 tsp sesame oil⠀
- ½ tsp chili powder⠀
- 1 tsp salt⠀
- ½ tsp pepper ⠀
Make the Orange Hoisin Sauce
Add all the sauce ingredients to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Lower the heat and allow to simmer for about five minutes, stirring. Pour the mixture into your blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth.
Strain the sauce through cheesecloth (optional, but I like the texture better). If necessary, thin the sauce with more orange juice, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
Cook the Chicken & Broccoli
Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, about 1 inch.
Add the ghee to a large skillet over high heat, and add in the chicken. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until mostly cooked through.
Add the sauce to the pan, bring to a simmer, and allow the chicken to cook in the sauce over medium heat for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a separate skillet, steam the broccoli over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until bright green (careful not to overcook it).
Serve by plating the chicken and broccoli, then top each serving with green onions and sesame seeds.
When I make this, I like to double the recipe for just the Orange Hoisin sauce. It freezes great and makes for a fantastic & quick dinner down the road!