Back-to-school time is upon us, and for most of us that means a return to a super busy schedule. Even though we all desperately want to provide our families with home-cooked, nutritious meals, that seems to fall by the wayside when we’re struggling to fit in all of the baseball practices, dance lessons, homework, and whatever else we fill our lives up with.
Most of the time, healthy, from-scratch eating feels like more of a luxury than a necessity.
Although we have good intentions to meal plan or batch cook for the whole week on Sunday, by the time Sunday rolls around we’re too exhausted to follow through, so we often find ourselves grabbing a freezer meal throughout the week, ordering in some take-out, or running through the drive-through. Sound familiar? Well, don’t get too down on yourself. It happens to all of us. Yup, even me.
That’s why my favorite thing to cook for dinner is anything I can make in 30 minutes or less! I make a ton of one-pot meals and quick-cooking dishes. Enter: stir fry! A stir fry is one of the fastest things you can whip up for dinner. If you have your veggies prepped ahead of time, it’s even faster.
I make stir fry so much that I’ve got it down to a science!
I’ve narrowed it down to three simple steps, and if you remember those steps, you’ll be a master stir fry maker too. Before we get into the steps, I want to point out something about a stir fry that you must know. Even though we tend to think of Asian flavors when it comes to a stir fry, it does NOT have to be that way. In fact, if you only go the Asian route (while that route is completely delicious), you’ll end up limiting yourself.
I submit that “stir fry” is simply a method of cooking. You can take the flavor in any direction you like. This particular recipe is of the Asian persuasion, but you could swap out the cilantro for rosemary and basil, and just give it a squeeze of lemon and voila! You have a fresh Italian inspired stir fry. Or, if you wanted to add in some kalamata olives, fresh oregano, and maybe some feta, you would have a Greek stir fry. Get the idea? Make it your own. That’s the fun of getting creative in the kitchen. The possibilities are endless and chances are, you’ll never create the same dish twice! So back to the three simple steps. I call it the Three S’s of making a simple stir fry! Here they are:
Because stir fry is so quick-cooking, it is absolutely imperative that you get all of your ingredients prepared before you begin to cook. When you cook a stir fry, you cook it at a really high heat, so you need to keep it moving in the pan so things don’t burn. This means that you wont have extra hands or time to be chopping up your next ingredient or mixing up your sauce.
So get your mise-en-place (pronounced meez-on-plas) together. That’s just a fancy French way to say get all your stuff ready! So the first step is to slice, dice, chop, julienne or mince your ingredients. Set them all aside and have them ready to throw in the pan.
Once you have everything ready, it’s time to begin cooking your stir fry. As I said, this is done at a very high heat! It’s important here to use a fat that has a high smoke point. I like to use ghee, bacon fat or coconut oil. You would NOT want to use olive oil, and definitely not canola or vegetable oil (because those oils should never be consumed by humans).
Once your meat is cooked, and your veggies have almost reached your desired tenderness, you’re going to add in some sort of liquid or sauce. In this recipe I’ve provided my favorite stir fry sauce, but the sauce could really be any kind of liquid from just a squeeze of lemon to a dash of balsamic vinegar.
At this point, you’re ready to serve! How easy was that? Memorize the three S’s, then get to creating your own delicious stir fry.
Here’s a yummy recipe for one of my family’s favorite versions of stir fry. It’s a great place to start if you’re a #fromscratch newbie.
- 3 T organic ghee (or organic coconut oil)
- 1 lb chicken breast, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 bell peppers, sliced
- 1 summer squash, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T fresh ginger, minced
- ½ c fresh cilantro, chopped
- ¼ c fresh lime juice
- ¼ c low-sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos if you're soy-free)
- 3 T organic honey
- 2 t sesame oil (organic)
- sea salt and black pepper (non-irradiated)
- Heat a large skillet over high heat on the stove top.
- Add your ghee (or other healthy cooking fat).
- When the ghee is almost smoking, add the chicken, onions and bell peppers to the pan. Season liberally with sea salt and pepper, and let saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the squash, garlic and ginger to the pan. Continue to saute, stirring frequently for another 2-3 minutes.
- When the chicken is cooked through, add your prepared sauce (lime juice, soy sauce and honey) to the pan. Mix well to combine and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until your veggies have reached your desired tenderness. I like to leave mine softened, but retain a bit of bite.
- Remove from the heat, toss in the fresh cilantro and drizzle with sesame oil.
- Serve over your favorite rice or try my Coconut Scallion Rice and enjoy!