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Stir Fry; that's what's for dinner

I’m relatively new to the stir fry party but glad I joined none the less. The only rule to stir fry is, there are no rules. That can be a little intimidating if you just want a recipe to follow and a predictable end result.

A few things that I’ve found work well:

Lots of broccoli – I buy often two large heads of broccoli for a wok of stir fry. Frankly, I just like broccoli, so if you don’t other sort of ‘bases’ that work well are squash or eggplant.

Don’t skip cabbage – I never thought there would be a day that I buy a head of green cabbage just about every time I go to the store, but it works so well to add some bulk to just about anything. It sort of clings to the other ingredients in a stir fry and assumes their flavor so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating a pile of cabbage but you do get a good low calorie filler.

Keep it colorful – Add in any or all colors of peppers. I love red peppers, so that’s what I generally use, but you can use green, orange, yellow, or some of each. I spent most of my life assuming I didn’t like peppers but when I actually tried them, I loved them, both raw and cooked.

Convenience is key – Again, there are no rules. Your vegetables can be raw or frozen, whatever you have time or money for. A chicken stir fry with frozen vegetables can make several meals on a dime. If you have time to cut vegetables yourself, they work just as well. Depending on your store, they may have prepared stir fry vegetables in the produce section. I use this option from time to time but find it to be pricy and not as fresh as if I had cut the ingredients myself. I also like to use shrimp instead of chicken when I can get a bargain on shrimp.

Find a great sauce – The first time out of the gate, I went to the store and looked at every single sauce in the Asian food section. I was looking for calories and sodium. Even though sodium is not my usual target, it do look at it for this type if item. I found a teriyaki sauce that was 25 calories for 2 tablespoons and the lowest sodium. Be careful, some stir fry type sauces have so many unexpected calories and lots of sugar. I recently found another Szechuan sauce at Target that I like for 5 calories per tablespoon. This sauce is on the spicy side, which I actually like because a little goes a long way.

Rice or no rice – Depending on the rest of the day’s calories and my workout, I eat my stir fry with or without rice and it is just as good either way.

You don’t need a wok – But if you want one, I have one from Ikea for pretty cheap that works great. A frying pan works fine too. I find a can make a larger quantity with a wok for leftover purposes.

Below are the details on a stir fry I recently made:

Here is my general ‘recipe’

  • Two large heads of broccoli

  • One red bell pepper

  • Half a head of cabbage

  • One handful of carrots – I usually include, but you can see I didn’t this time, thought I had some and realized after I started I didn’t

  • Shrimp, chicken, or beef – Amounts here really depend on your taste. I used one pound of shrimp for this and it was probably a little on the heavy side, I could have used more like ¾ of a pound. Two good sized chicken breasts work well too. I used cooked, peeled, deveined, frozen shrimp, it could not have been easier. I put the shrimp in a bowl of cold water to thaw while I prepped and cooked the vegetables.

  • A sprinkle of whatever sauce you prefer

I start by putting the item that will take longest to cook in my pan, generally broccoli. Once the broccoli starts to get going, I add in the peppers and carrots. I have used different oils in the pan (olive, sesame, coconut, vegetable), but I actually like the taste best with no oil. Lastly, I dump the cabbage in and sauce if you choose to use one. Shrimp went in last, since it was actually already cooked and basically just needed to be reheated. When I use chicken, I usually cook the chicken first, in my stir fry pan, then put it in a bowl to the side and add back to the almost cooked vegetables.

If you have enough for leftovers, it makes a great lunch the next day. It is one of the meals that I find actually tastes better for lunch the next day, after the flavors really meld.

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