Spring Break is approaching! Hopefully you are one of the lucky ones that get to take a little vacation. While personally the thought of getting in a bathing suit when it is still this cold and rainy in central Texas makes me cling to my sweats tighter, many are in the mind-set of getting fit and beach-body ready. If you’re looking for a quick, easy dinner idea to help you toward that….look no further.
I love Chinese food. My opportunities to indulge have been greatly hindered however by the whole MSG problem. (If you’re wondering how that’s going, Matthew has been doing great with my MSG-free diet. The only hiccup was when I went to Panera Bread. MSG is in their potato soup!!! Who knew?) FORTUNATELY, I can satisfy my cravings at home with a junk-free recipe that really hits the spot. The beauty with this recipe is that it can be as versatile as you want. Add whatever meat or veggies you want, and voila´….healthy, low-calorie Chinese food (without a ton of oil and sodium).
For those who are particularly sodium-conscious, this recipe does call for some soy sauce. I always recommend buying low-sodium. The amount, however, is dramatically cut here from what you would get in a restaurant. The rice vinegar helps it achieve that satisfying flavor without drenching it with soy sauce. You can also try experimenting with a little sesame oil for more flavor without salt.
Here is the recipe I tweaked from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and made for my family the other night.
-1 package chicken breasts
-1 cup water
-3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
-1 Tablespoon rice vinegar (can also substitute white wine vinegar)
-1 Tablespoon corn starch
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 package frozen stir-fry vegetables (This is where you can really get creative. I was in a hurry, but you can definitely go fresh instead. I love mine with water chestnuts and mushrooms.)
-6 teaspoons minced garlic (sounds like a lot, but hey, it’s yummy, plus it’s is good for you. I use jarred, minced garlic because again, I’m usually in a hurry)
– OPTIONAL: 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (to add to marinade)
-OPTIONAL: 1 cup cashews
-2 cups hot cooked white, brown, jasmine, or basmati rice
The pack of veggies I threw in (if you were ever so curious…)
1) Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces and put into a Ziplock bag. For marinade, mix water, soy sauce, vinegar, and crushed red pepper if you want some spice.
2) Pour over chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Drain chicken, but SAVE THE MARINADE. Don’t toss it.
3) Stir cornstarch into the marinade, set aside.
4) Heat olive oil in large skillet (or wok if you have one) over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and garlic, cook and stir until tender. Remove veggies from the pan.
5) Add chicken to the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir the marinade mixture a bit more then add to the pan. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.
6) Return veggies to the pan. Add cashews if you’d fancy. Cook and stir until mixed well and all heated through.
7) Serve over rice.
8) Enjoy it, guilt-free, knowing you have made your family a delicious, healthy meal loaded with lean protein and veggies all while still looking after your own waist-line.
Again, you can get creative with your veggies and meats. If your creation is a hit, feel free to share!
Until next time!