Thursday, October 6, 2011

0 The Quickest and Easiest Meals - Stir Frys!

Stir frys are the epitome of quick, easy to make food. Stir frys are some of my favorite meals and they don't have to be Asian inspired either. Although anyone that knows me, knows that I LOVE Asian food! There is so much versatility in stir frys – really, it's nearly endless... the vegetables that you can use, the sauces, the spices....Mmmm.

Another great thing about stir frys is that they makes it very easy to increase your vegetable consumption. One of the reasons (besides eating processed foods) that we're getting fat and sick in this country is because we don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. With stir frys you can just load them up with veggies, as a matter of fact depending on the veggies you use and what you eat with the stir fry with you don't even need to have meat in there (lowering your fat intake and raising your vitamin and fiber intake)! And you won't miss it either.

Since I do love Asian food so much, most of the time I do make stir frys that have more of an Asian flavor to them. However, last night I made a shrimp scampi type stir fry that was really good. When you decide to make a stir fry all you really have to do is look in the fridge and see what you've got, decide on a flavor you want to have and go for it!

You don't have to use oil when making a stir fry either, you can make it a healthier choice by using a vegetable or meat stock – make your own or if you buy one, be sure to choose a low sodium stock without a lot of extra ingredients.

First, I decide on what kind of flavor I want, sweet, salty, hot, garlicky, spicy, etc. Next, I usually start with either garlic or onions or both. Then I'll see if I have carrots, mushrooms, peppers, shelled edamame, squash, zucchini, green beans, snow peas, jicama, bean sprouts, broccoli, spinach, seaweed, etc. After that I'll try to decide if I want meat, seafood or tofu in it – you don't need to eat any of them either and you can still get enough protein just put it on top of quinoa or brown rice or add some black beans to your stir fry. Finally, I decide what kind of starch I want to have with it soba noodles, those delicious no carb shiratake noodles, white rice, brown rice or quinoa (notice that quinoa is both a complete protein source and a carb!) – and do I want to put it on top of those, or do I want them stirred in. If you add the noodles or rice to the stir fry, don't add it until you are nearly done (with the exception of the shirataki noodles which can go in at any time) - so that they don't overcook or disintegrate.  See, I told you the possibilities are nearly endless...

So, last nights stir fry - 

Shrimp & Garlic Stir Fry
8 large shrimp cut into thirds
4 cloves chopped garlic
½ c sliced onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 c shredded cabbage
2 carrots, sliced
6 broccoli florets, about ¾ cup or spinach
½ c shelled edamame
4 baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl butter
soba noodles (buckwheat) - these are usually wrapped inside the package, use one wrapped portion

Cut up all the shrimp and veggies, set aside. Boil water in a medium size pot, add soba noodles, cook for about 8-10 minutes, drain and set aside. While the water is heating and the noodles are cooking, add oil, butter, garlic and onion to a large frying pan or wok, cook over low heat for about 2-3 minutes. When making stir fry, remember to stir all the ingredients often while cooking. Raise heat to about medium low, add bell peppers, carrots and broccoli, cook for about another minute. Add shrimp, cook for about another 3-4 minutes. Add edamame, mushrooms and cabbage, turn the heat up again to about medium to medium high, cook for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cooked noodles into the dish and turn off heat. Let sit about a minute and serve hot over noodles. Serves 2.

Nutritional Data for Shrimp & Garlic Stir Fry
Calories – 418
Total Fat – 22 g
     Saturated Fat – 6 g
     Trans Fat – 0 g
Cholesterol – 52 mg
Sodium – 370 mg
Total Carbohydrates – 45 g
     Dietary Fiber – 7 g
     Sugars – 10 g
Protein – 16 g
Vitamin A – 250%
Vitamin C – 217%
Calcium – 12%
Iron – 18%

Mmmm good and done in about 18 minutes, start to finish. Other sauce ideas besides butter/oil and garlic are: 1) soy, a little bit of brown sugar, fresh or dried ginger, mirin or sherry, 2) soy, water, hot sauce, fermented red pepper paste, or cayenne pepper, 3) just soy and water, 4) a little miso paste, water and vinegar, 5) olive oil, vinegar, garlic and oregano 6) olive oil, garlic, white wine. You can just stir fry your ingredients in oil or broth and about half way through add spices, you don't need to make a sauce.  You can also add different spices like cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder, etc. Just try different things and see what you like!

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