My Top Tips for Healthy Homemade Stir Fry

If you think a little protein, a little vegetable and a little starch make for the perfect meal, I’m right there with you.  And that’s the definition of a Reuben, right?  Ok, maybe sauerkraut doesn’t quite qualify as much of a vegetable.

But.  The stir fry I make does qualify.  It’s also easy and uses what you already have on hand.  And maybe includes fresh vegetables that need to get used up today.  I’m going to share my top tips for healthy homemade stir fry and maybe encourage you to put this on your regular rotation. Darn, those Reubens are good though.

I like my vegetables on the crunchy side and my meals on the spicy side.  For weeknight meals, I don’t like a lot of prep or clean up.  We like to modify our recipes to include different tastes and diet constraints. This dish checks all those boxes.

But it does take a little finesse and here’s what I’ve learned over time.

Prep Early

There is a lot of chopping for this dish.  If you are one to sip on a glass of wine while you’re making dinner, there could be trouble.  So either skip the cocktail or chop up the vegetables on your lunch break.

Prepped Veggies Ready for the Fridge

Everything comes out better when it’s chopped uniformly.  I use the Mueller chopper on the large blade for onion, carrots, celery.  Additionally, these are the items that need to go in the pan first for about five minutes to soften up.  If I’m chopping a few hours before stir frying, I leave these veggies in the Mueller and stick the whole thing in the fridge.

Because all other vegetables take less time, I separate them out in a different container after prepping. 

If you want to add frozen green beans or broccoli, it might not be as wonderful, but it still works just fine.

Order is Important

If you like your veggies crisp and your chicken done, but not overdone, it’s important to have everything ready in the order it goes in the pan.

Trader Joe’s Perfect Rice
  • Rice – if you’re serving over rice, I think basmati is best.  It needs to be rinsed three times and cooked for nearly ½ hour.  If you’re saving time like I do (ok, call me lazy) I use the precooked jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s.  It takes three minutes in the microwave, zero mess and it’s always perfect.
  • Carrots, celery, onion and garlic take about five minutes longer than the meat, so I soften those, add the meat for a couple of minutes and throw in any other vegetables except the cabbage.
  • Add soy sauce to the pan for flavor and liquid – but not too much or it gets soggy.
  • Cabbage goes in last and after I toss around, I put the lid on the pan and let it steam until it’s wilted.
Steaming After the Cabbage is Added

Use Sesame Oil

I’m not usually picky about the oil I use for cooking and baking. Avocado oil has been my go-to for the past year or so, but sesame oil really adds a nice depth to stir fry and I always use it.  A little goes a long way though.

About one tablespoon nice and hot and it’s time to add your vegetables.

Spice it Up

Spice it Up!

I like my food pretty spicy.  But I recognize not everyone else has a gut of steel.  I do put a few pepper flakes in while I’m cooking, but generally adding sriracha or crushed red pepper is better left for individual servings.

Ginger rarely gets used in our house, so I store the knuckle in the freezer and just break off what I need when I’m cooking stir fry.  I either grate it with a Microplane zester or I slice in small medallions and remove them when eating.

Get Nuts

Let’s Get Nuts

Honestly, cashews or peanuts added after cooking makes the entire dish.  Sesame seed gets sprinkled on at the end too and that crunch and nutty flavor are the deal makers.

Go Easy on the Salt

Between the soy sauce and the nuts, the sodium content is probably higher than most people want.  You might consider low sodium soy sauce and reduced sodium nuts.  I add soy sauce to the pan near the end of frying and I always add more to my plate after serving.  Luckily, I don’t have a salt restriction in my diet.

Even if you don’t love Asian food, you might love this recipe because you can use ingredients you love. When we need a good dose of vegetables and detox from too much beef, this is our go-to dinner.

There is usually one or two helpings left over for the next day. It doesn’t make the greatest leftovers, but somehow we end up eating it anyway and rarely throw any away.

I encourage you to use up the vegetables in your fridge with stir fry and see if you don’t just feel bullet proof afterwards.

Have a good weekend and a couple of book updates on Tuesday.

BTW, I’m still praying like crazy for those of you under the weather. God bless.