Don’t be intimidated– it’s easier than you think. Stir-frys are so great because you can pick a variety of your favorite veggies– and that’s good because each has its own special nutrient profile and you’ll get a broad range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Plus it’s a perfect way to use up those items in the fridge that may be getting a little past their peak. Then, boom— they are cooked up, and you’ve got ready-to-go meals for a couple of days. Use different sauces and veggies to create totally different flavor and texture combinations. The stir-fry possibilities are endless and you never have to have the exact same concoction twice.
Make an incredible plant-powered meal like this in 3 easy steps:
1. Choose your veggies:
Check the fridge to see what you’ve got on hand. I hope you keep your veggie bins well-stocked! If not, ask yourself why and figure out a plan to make this a habit. I went with a white eggplant, brussels sprouts, an onion, baby bella mushrooms, garlic (from my garden!) and a leftover baked sweet potato. Tip: Bake several sweet potatoes at once and keep them in the fridge for quick meals (like this!)
2. Choose your protein:
Tempeh is not one of my staples but we bought this on a whim the other night. It always tastes so good prepared in restaurants but never quite the same at home. Anyway, I thought I’d give it another go. Other plant-based protein sources include tofu, beans, lentils, nuts or seitan. Note: you don’t NEED to include one of these proteins in your meal. Many times I make plain old veggie stir frys. It really depends on the other foods you are eating that day. Protein needs are definitely over-hyped. Look here to determine your protein needs.
3. Choose a sauce:
I love this sauce by Organicville. They have other flavors equally as awesome. The ingredients are simple, natural and very light on the oil and therefore the calories. Avoid oil-based sauces and dressings– nobody needs the excess refined fat calories they contain.
If oil is the first ingredient on the list, step away.
Now that you’ve got your ingredients, it is time to get cooking. I like to start with chopping up the onion and garlic and get them caramelizing first. You do not need oil for this, but feel free to use a small amount if you want. I used a cast iron pan that I let heat up first on medium-high heat. Here are the onions and garlic before cooking:
Keep turning then with a spatula every so often as they sizzle away. Meanwhile, get chopping your other ingredients.
If you have a large enough pan you can just add in the other veggies. Or use a wok if you’ve got one. I had so much produce that I had to use my bigger pan and transfer my onions into it with my other ingredients. Add in as much teriyaki (or whatever you are using) as you see fit– I try not to go too crazy with it. You can always drizzle more on your finished veggies if you need to, which I sometimes like to do. Stir well and cook over medium heat:
After several minutes of stirring to incorporate the sauce, I covered the pan and let it all cook for about 10 minutes:
Stir with your spatula or spoon every so often and check on the veggies until they are cooked to your preference. Enjoy as-is or serve over your favorite whole grain. Here I have mine atop some leftover quinoa:
When I ask people to tell me the foods they eat for dinner, 9 times out of 10 they list animal proteins like chicken, pork, hamburgers, hot dogs and fish. Sometimes I even have to ask about other things like vegetables and whole grains– and then they get mentioned almost as an afterthought– or even worse, not at all! So many people base their meals around a hunk of meat; I guess it’s the American way. Just like obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Instead of focusing on meat as your meal centerpiece, switch your thoughts to vegetables taking up the most real estate on your plate. If you love meats, consider cutting down your portion sizes and using them more like flavorings or condiments in small amounts. You could cut up one chicken breast to add to a stir-fry like this for 4 people instead of eating an entire one yourself. Think quality over quantity with your meats too. It matters. Choose grass-fed organic beef, wild fish and free range, antibiotic free chicken. Becoming a more plant-strong eater doesn’t mean you have to give up animal products all together– but cutting back on them while boosting your intake of plants can be both a healthful and tasty lifestyle improvement.
Think about what your dinner plate looks like. Is it filled with at least 3/4 plant foods?