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When you have a craving for an Asian-inspired meal, consider stir-frying. The pleasant aroma of garlic, ginger and fresh vegetables will send the whole family into the kitchen begging for food. It's not just a winner for the kids, parent's love that it's a quick, easy, veggie-composed meal that can even turn leftovers into a whole new dish. Here are some helpful hints:

  1. Before you begin heating your wok or nonstick skillet, gather and prepare everything you need because the stir-frying process only takes a few minutes. While chopping vegetables takes a little time up front, you could chop them the night before or on your lunch break. A simple solution is to use frozen or pre-cut vegetables. If using meat, cut into bite-size pieces, slicing across the grain so it will be tenderer.
  2. Get the oil nice and hot before adding any food. Try canola, or for more flavor use sesame or peanut oil. Garlic, ginger and/or dried hot peppers will also infuse flavor, but stir often to avoid burning.
  3. Stir-fry the meat first, moving it around until it's mostly cooked.
  4. Add the vegetables next, starting with the least tender, such as broccoli, carrots and onions. The more tender vegetables like snow peas and peppers don't take as long.
  5. Stir in a sauce or broth and cook until vegetables are crisp tender. Don't overcook! For a thicker sauce, add flour, cornstarch or quick cooking tapioca.

Stir-frying is a great way to use up vegetables before they go to waste. Serve over brown rice or whole grain spaghetti for even more nutrients.

Orange Chicken Stir-fry (Printable PDF)

1 cup orange juice

1 Tablespoon grated orange rind (optional)

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 Tablespoons flour

3 Tablespoons canola oil

4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cubed

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup vegetables of your choice

2 cups brown rice, cooked

In a small bowl, whisk orange juice, zest, soy sauce, brown sugar and flour. Mix well. Heat oil in skillet. When it begins to bubble, add chicken and garlic. Sauté 3-5 minutes and add vegetables. Continue to cook until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are crisp tender. Add sauce mixture to chicken and cook until thickened. Serve orange chicken over cooked rice.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutritional analysis per ½ cup rice serving: 390 Calories, 14 grams fat, 580 milligrams sodium, 35 grams carbohydrate, 29 grams protein