I will turn 56 next month, and I am still learning how to eat vegetables.
Yes, that’s right. My father was a carnivore who ate nothing but meat and desserts. That’s only one sad part of my nutritional journey, so I’ll spare you the rest for now. Like father, like daughter. Poor eating habits are hard to break, but any bad habit can be broken. It takes determination and putting your goal into practice. So far, so good. These things don’t happen overnight.
Stir fry is a great way to get your vegetables, and as a home cook, I can easily prep and stir fry a meal in less than half an hour. We have not gone to our favorite Chinese restaurant in months because Chinese food can have ingredients that me and Mister Jack don’t need. MSG, excessive sugar in sauces and fat are a start.
I am retired, and I have time to shop and cook. I no longer want or need to go to a restaurant or some fast food joint because I am on a medical diet. There’s food that I cannot eat, so by making our meals at home, I can pick my recipes, control the ingredients and the way the dish is prepared. I know what’s in our meals, but you are not totally sure of what’s in your food (or how it’s prepared) when you eat out.
Since I’ve been cooking and baking since I was four, I don’t really measure. Most people who are used to cooking usually tweak recipes to make them their own. I cook with what I have, and I don’t need to rush to the store for missing ingredients. I either substitute or do without. Depending on what you have around the house and what your family likes to eat, you can use one or more vegetables to go with the chicken. As you can see, I happen to be a big fan of sugar snap peas, but I didn’t have mushrooms available. Maybe next time.
Easy Chicken Stir Fry
Stir Fry Base
Two chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (or smaller)
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon garlic
1 onion, sliced
3 or more cups vegetables (your choice). The more color, the better. Use bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, celery, cabbage, bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, etc. Think of your favorite stir fry dish and go from there.
1 -2 teaspoons oil
Black Bean Sauce
2 heaping teaspoons black bean sauce
1/2 cup water
You can do without the cornstarch in the stir fry base and the black bean sauce. A lot of stir fry dishes include a thick gravy, but I am beginning to appreciate the taste and the crunch of certain vegetables. Black bean sauce and Siracha are both common ingredients, and can be found in Asian markets, your favorite supermarket or any supermarket that specializes in international food. I use the black bean and Siracha sauce for flavor.
1. Get all of your vegetables together. Wash thoroughly and chop into pieces. Set aside until ready to stir fry.
2. Make sauce by mixing black bean sauce and water in a small bowl. Add Siracha if desired. Set aside.
3. Roll chicken pieces in a small amount of cornstarch.
4. Add oil to skillet or wok.
5. Fry chicken pieces until brown, using salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
6. Scrape and remove brown bits from skillet. Add more oil if needed.
7. Add ginger, garlic and onions to skillet. Stir over medium high heat until onions soften.
6. Add vegetables. Stir constantly over high heat until the firmer vegetables (like carrots and celery) are slightly softened.
7. Add chicken to vegetables. Add sauce to stir fry mixture. Stir until chicken meat and vegetables are coated in sauce.
8. Remove from heat and serve immediately. You can serve stir fry by itself or in lettuce cups. Or with rice or noodles.