Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

This is a great meal for those times when you want your food in the form of pure, healthy, nutrition. You may have splurged yesterday at a tailgate, or maybe you’ve overdone it with the dry carbs. A chicken and vegetable stir-fry provides lean protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants with little else to bring it – or you – down. Restaurant stir-fries can pack in more than 1000 calories from excess oil and sugar-laden sauces, but this dish adds flavor with ginger, garlic, lime, and pineapple. If you’re looking for more bulk, you can add brown rice or buckwheat noodles, but this meal is plenty filling without them. Use this dish to get back on track for a satisfying but healthy, functional meal.

Ingredients
1 large (both halves) skinless chicken breast (or another protein: lean steak, shrimp, tofu)
1 T canola oil
2 T fresh chopped ginger
1 T minced garlic
Salt to taste
A ton of fresh vegetables (choose several): sugar snap peas, broccoli, red and yellow bell peppers, chopped cabbage, mushrooms, edamame, bok choy, carrots, bean sprouts
½ cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped pineapple
Limes
Mint, Thai basil, or peanuts for garnish

Sauce:
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp lower sodium-soy sauce
2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
½ tsp honey
1 T lime juice
(sauce adapted from Cooking Light)

Serves two.

Prepare the vegetables. Wash, chop, slice, boil, and blanch if necessary (broccoli’s and snap peas’ flavor and texture improves with blanching).Prepare the sauce: add all sauce ingredients to a small bowl and mix well. For extra spice and bite, use more lime juice and ginger or chopped jalapeño. Reserve for later.

Roast or lightly sauté the chicken (or other protein), using small strips or chopped pieces; set aside and keep warm.

Heat a large skillet or wok and cover its surface with one tablespoon of canola oil. Add vegetables, garlic, and ginger, pushing them around for about one minute. Add the chicken; stir-fry for another minute. Add the chopped pineapple. Drizzle the sauce over chicken and vegetables and stir-fry another minute. Serve over brown rice or buckwheat noodles, if desired, and garnish with mint, Thai basil, peanuts, or green onions.

Why should you eat this?
Although stir-frying and deep-frying share half of their name, their similarities stop there. Unlike deep-frying, as is used in making French fries, chicken fingers, and mozzarella sticks, stir-frying is a method that uses a small amount of oil at a very high temperature to quickly sear or steam vegetables and protein. And while deep-frying often involves breading that pulls in even more fat and calories, the meat and vegetables in stir-fries are exposed to a small amount of oil for a very short amount of time. This allows you to eat tasty but lean protein and plenty of fiber-filled vegetables for under 500 calories.

Stir-fries also have an added benefit over other boiling and cooking methods: because heat can destroy some nutrients, such as vitamin C, the fast sear of a stir-fry helps vegetables retain their nutrients. And unlike other cooking methods, stir-fries are both fast to prepare and cheap to make: including vegetable preparation, the whole meal takes less than 20 minutes to make, and because of their versatility, you can use whatever protein and vegetables are laying around in your fridge, saving you a trip to the grocery store.

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