For most parents with kids in school, the late afternoon pre-dinner hours are always hectic. There are play dates, soccer practices, and energized little minds to entertain. Needless to say, there isn’t always a lot of time to prep and cook family meals, especially if you’re working around dietary requirements. If this sounds like your average afternoon then try utilizing a slow cooker recipe like this one, which will help you get a hearty meal on the table in no time. This recipe for Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Chicken is healthy, tasty, and with any luck, it will allow you to maximize your time with the things that really matter — your family!

Ingredients:

2 tsp corn starch

1 egg white

1/2 tsp salt

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1 – 1 1/2 lb chicken tenders

1/4 cup of ketchup

1/4 cup of white vinegar

2 Tbl organic brown sugar

1 tsp fresh ginger (keep peeled ginger in the freezer and then grate right into the dish!)

1 small can of pineapple chunks, juice reserved

1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into large pieces (if you like green peppers, you can use those as well)

1 Tbl safflower oil for frying

1 small to medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1/2 yellow onion, sliced

Optional: 1/2 c peanuts or cashews for garnish

*To ensure this dish is gluten-free, make sure to use a gluten-free ketchup.

Method:

1. Mix egg white, cornstarch and salt in a bowl large enough for the tenders. Add tenders and, using your hands, coat each piece of chicken with the mixture. Put aside for about 5 minutes. (By the way, this is a great method for making gluten-free crispy chicken).

2. Pour ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger and pineapple juice into the bowl of a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add pineapple and peppers.

3. Heat medium to large non-stick pan with the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken tenders and cook on each side until the chicken is lightly browned. The chicken may not be done but will continue cooking in the slow cooker. Place chicken in slow cooker.

4. Place pan back on stove and cook onions and sweet potatoes for about 3-5 minutes. Place this on top of the chicken.

5. Place cover on slow cooker, set to Low for 90 minutes. Serve with brown rice and quinoa. Optionally garnish with peanuts or cashews.

TIP: When cooking red quinoa with rice, add two times more water than quinoa. For example, if you add 1/2 c quinoa, add 1 cup of extra water. Even though the quinoa takes less time than the brown rice, it came out fine. I usually add about half the amount of quinoa that I add of the rice. For example, 1 cup of rice and 1/2 cup of quinoa.

This is a recipe from our friend, blogger Amy Fothergill. You can find her fabulous gluten-free, kid friendly recipes in her column for www.examiner.com as well as on her blog, The Family Chef.