Stir Fry made easy (or deliciously complicated!)
If you’ve never stir fried before, it is an amazingly simple way to cook yourself a healthy and delicious meal. The ingredients can vary broadly, leaving us a simple cooking method with great variety. The result is always a delicious blend of fresh vegetables and choice of grain and protein. This meal will provide plenty of essential nutrients, vitamins, protein and essential fatty acids. If you choose to add in fresh herbs (ginger, garlic, turmeric and more), you’re getting great anti bacterial, digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits to boot. The food will not only feel good in your stomach, but leave you feeling energized and content.
*Note, if you have a weak digestive system (easily bloated with foods, gas, poor appetite), then you might need to pass on stir fry and pay more strict adherence to rules of food combining. Generally speaking, some people have trouble digesting grains and proteins at the same time in their stomach. For more information, click here to read a more in depth explanation of food combining.
Herbs – here is a list of a variety of herbs and how they’ll affect your body. Try to use fresh if you can, they contain a lot more of the essential oils that are often contain the active healing properties of the plant. If you’re short on time, you can easily substitute some curry powder instead.
Fresh Garlic – Purported to have strong antibactieral, antiviral and antifungal actions.
Ginger Root – Perhaps one of the best remedies for any type of digestive distress (particularly nausea). It can help with inflammation and will make the stir fry very easy to digest.
Turmeric Root– This herb has received a lot of attention due to its strong anti-inflammatory effects. It also helps with digestion.
Basil – a stimulating herb; it can help revive the body and senses
Cilantro – A great digestive aid. Helps with gas and bloating
Coriander Seeds– This is one of my favorite herbs. I like to keep it in a pepper grinding mill. It provides a great fresh, lemony taste. Can help to settle the mind (overthinking) and eases gas and bloating
Cumin – helps with digestion, gas and bloating
Cayenne Pepper – aids the heart in circulation
Lemongrass – assists with digestion
Fresh Vegetables – You can put almost anything in a stir fry. Be sure to add something dark green like broccoli, spinach or kale to help balance the combination of grain and protein. Some of my favorites are carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, zucchini, radishes (add at end) and bell peppers.
Protein– Eggs, nuts, Tempeh, Tofu, chicken and beef are all excellent choices. Tempeh is a great vegetarian choice that is very filling for those more accustomed to eating meat
Oil for sautéing– Different oils have different effects for your body. Here is a general list of common oils and what they’re good for. You can also choose to forgo oils and just sauté with water.
Sesame oil – benefits dry skin, nourishes the liver
Olive oil,- benefits the skin and moisturizes the body.
Grapeseed oil – Use this oil if there is too much moisture (greasy skin, feeling heavy in the body). If you’re feeling heavy, you may want to go for tempeh or tofu, which are much lighter on the body.
Coconut oil – Moisturizing and very easy on the stomach. If you use Coconut oil, be sure to cook at low temperature to prevent it from going rancid.
Grain of choice – If I’m eating vegetarian, I usually prefer a thicker grain like Brown rice or Quinoa. The lightness of white rice balances nicely with meat as the protein.
Soy sauce– I really like Tamari both for the fact that is tastes great and it’s gluten free. Regardless, be sure to get a soy sauce with no MSG or preservatives.
Coconut Milk – Use this if you want to make it into a creamier curry style.
First, cook your grain. If you use brown rice, soak for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
While the grains are cooking, you can start by preparing the spices. I recommended using Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric as the basis for your spice blend Peel the ginger and turmeric root. Then finely chop the garlic, ginger. If you like spicy, then you could add in a fresh pepper as well. Start sautéing and add any root vegetables (onion, carrot, sweet potato) at this time. If you choose to use meat, you can add it as these start to soften (you may want to cook the meat in a separate pan, but I find it to work quite well when you have everything together).
Next, start adding vegetables based on their thickness. Celery and Broccoli are thicker and should be added first. Softer veggies like zucchini and kale should be added at the end.
If you want to make a coconut curry, now would be the time to add coconut milk. Bring the mixture into a slight boil, then add fresh herbs/greens and let simmer for 1-3 minutes. Once the taste is uniform, serve on top of your grain and enjoy your meal.
If you are making a more traditional stir fry, you can add in egg and sauté. As the egg is scrambling, add in the grain and spices like black pepper, coriander, cayenne or ground cumin. Then, add in the grain and nuts (if you’re using them) and add soy sauce. If you’re looking to use less salt, there are low sodium options, or you can slightly dilute regular soy sauces.
Note:: The beauty of cooking stir fries is in its simplicity and variety. You only need to use 2 pans maximum, so there’s not a large cleanup project. All of the ingredients are interchangeable; this is an easy way to eat a large variety of foods. Play around and see what you like. With that being said, enjoy this healthy meal!