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Chicken with Mango BBQ Sauce
Mango adds just a touch of sweetness to tangy barbecue. / Photo by Renee Comet / USA WEEKEND Magazine / Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky


A good barbecue sauce is a crescendo of flavor — with sweet, tart, savory and spicy all mingling in perfect balance. It’s a summer staple that turns something simply grilled into something fantastic.

Most store-bought barbecue sauces, though, contain a shocking dose of refined sugar, often from high-fructose corn syrup. When making sauce at home, you might be tempted to leave the sweetener out. But sweetness helps balance the other punchy flavors. Happily, there is a healthier way to get a full-flavored effect.

This recipe takes advantage of the sweetness of mango, which also adds loads of nutrients and fiber. It also employs the syrupy richness of molasses, a minimally processed sweetener that has essential minerals such as iron and calcium and adds depth to the sauce.

The sauce can be whipped up and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Use it to marinate pork chops, drizzle over grilled vegetables, or as a dip for grilled shrimp skewers.

Chicken with Mango Barbecue Sauce

• 2 Tbs. olive oil
• 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
• 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
• 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (about 1 Tb.)
• 1 tsp. salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• ½ tsp. ground allspice
• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
• 3 Tbs. unsulfured molasses
• 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
• 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
• ¼ cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
• 1 medium ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced (about 1½ cups)2 to 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
• 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2½ pounds), pounded between 2 sheets of waxed paper to ½-inch thickness
• Cooking spray

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring a few times, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, salt, black pepper and allspice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Stir in the vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire, lime juice and tomato sauce, and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the mixture to a blender and add the mango and jalapeños. Blend until smooth. Put 2 cups of the barbecue sauce in a large, sealable plastic bag with the chicken and marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Reserve remaining sauce for serving.

Prepare the grill or spray a grill pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the sauce, discarding the sauce in the bag. Grill the chicken until just cooked all the way through, about 4 minutes per side. Serve the chicken with the reserved sauce on the side.

Yield: 8 servings

Per serving (1 piece chicken, 2 Tbs. sauce):
220 calories, 5g carbohydrates, 40g protein, 3g fat (0.7g saturated), 0.5g fiber, 100mg cholesterol, 237mg sodium

Recipe reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Taunton Press Inc., from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life, by Ellie Krieger. Copyright by Ellie Krieger.

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Ellie Krieger is host of the The Food Network’s hit show “Healthy Appetite,” which airs on The Cooking Channel. The author of three cookbooks, her latest is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy. A registered dietitian, Ellie has helped out with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and has teamed up with New York City SchoolFood initiative, where she created healthy, delicious menu items for students citywide.