Friday, June 10, 2011

A Little Nutty, A Little Fruity Stir Fry

Nuts and fruit are important staples in our house. They are the most-consumed snack around here, and they show up at many mealtimes as well. I always have almonds, cashews, various nut mixes and pistachios on hand. Peanuts too, though I know they are not a nut (you probably know they are a legume). As for fruit, there are some we always have no matter what (strawberries, blueberries, apples, pineapple), and we also enjoy different varieties depending on what I find on sale each week. That said, I have quite a few "A Little Nutty, A Little Fruity ..." recipes in the works that you will be seeing!

This recipe is my oldest daughter's favorite meal, and she often takes it in her lunch to school. There are many things you can swap out and/or add to make this exactly to your liking. You can completely take out the meat, use beef, pork or shrimp, try different vegetable combinations, use almonds or cashews instead of peanuts, etc. Today I served it over organic quinoa for my family and ate it as is myself, but you could serve it over/alongside brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti/fettuccine or anything similar. Cut the meat, and it makes a great side dish alongside some grilled fish or meat. I minimize the cooking time of the vegetables so they retain as much crispness as possible, but that is something you can adjust to your liking as well. This makes 4-6 servings as I have written it, and it is very easy to divide or multiply depending on your needs.

This is one of my recipes in which I really stretch the meat if I use it. One large chicken breast (no skin or bone, 10-12 ounces) does just fine for all of us. I would not miss the meat one bit if I cut it out, and to be honest, I give most of it to my husband and then to the kids so they are not purely focused on the mountain of vegetables on their plates (though I have to say they are very good sports when it comes to vegetables). I used fresh broccoli today because it was on sale for a great deal, but you could use frozen as well. Once I tried a really good fresh pineapple, I vowed never to eat it canned again, and I got really lucky today with a store sale and a coupon I printed. You rarely find coupons for fresh fruit, and at the risk of revealing that I lead quite a dull life, I have to tell you I was excited when a friend pointed me in the direction of that coupon (it's no longer available). Peanuts are a more economical choice than are almonds or cashews, and I got these on clearance at Walgreen's when they were revamping their nut display. It can be a meal all by itself, but tonight I served it with fresh strawberries that were on sale for $1.50 per pound.

Pineapple is a good source of Vitamin C and manganese. Broccoli contains Vitamins C and A and folate and also a bit of calcium. Since I use them in so many recipes, you might be tired of hearing that red bell peppers are great sources of Vitamins A and C. I try to keep the sodium low by using low or no salt peanuts/nuts and low sodium soy sauce, and I use the Kosher salt very sparingly on the chicken. I prefer to use the quinoa over rice or pasta because it has more protein and fiber, and one serving (1/4 cup dry) also contains a whopping 20% of the standard daily recommendation of iron.

A Little Nutty, A Little Fruity Stir Fry

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
1 head fresh broccoli, about 3 cups
1 cup pineapple, cut in chunks
1/2 cup peanuts/cashews/almonds, low or no salt
2 med to large carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
1/2 small to medium onion, sliced thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
Fresh cracked black pepper
Kosher salt
Optional: red pepper flakes

Step 1: Heat olive oil in large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Meanwhile, cut chicken into chunks and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet/wok, and stirring often, cook just until it's no longer pink.

Step 2: Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrots and red pepper flakes if using. If you are using frozen broccoli, add that now as well, wait if you are using fresh. Stir often and cook 3-4 minutes.

Step 3: Add pineapple, broccoli (if using fresh) and scallions. Stir often and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Step 4: Add soy sauce and peanuts, stir to combine and remove from heat.


Chicken breast: On sale for $9/pkg of five, used one = $1.80
Pineapple: $2.24 each after sale and coupon, used 1/3 = $.75
Broccoli (one head) = $1.50
Peanuts: $.99 per 16 oz jar,1/2 cup is 2.5 oz (.16) = $.15
Carrots (organic): $1.98/ 2 lb bag, 2 carrots is 1/10 of bag = $.20
Bell pepper (red) =  $1.50
Onion (red): $.75/lb, used 1/2 a 10 oz onion = $.47
Scallion (organic): $1.39/pkg, 3 scallions is apprx 1/5 of pkg = $.28
Garlic: $.25/head, 2 cloves is 1/6 of head = $.04

Total Cost: $6.69
Four Servings: $1.67 per serving
Six Servings: $1.12 per serving

Add quinoa:

Quinoa (organic): $9.99/pkg, used apprx 1/6 of pkg = $1.67

Total Cost: $8.36
Four Servings: $2.09
Six Servings: $1.39

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