Stir-frying and steaming vegetables are two of the healthiest ways to cook them. The vegetables are bright, colorful and naturally sweet in flavor with a texture that is crisp yet tender and they usually cook in less than 5 minutes. They are the ultimate Happy Meal! The benefits are less calories, less fat and more fiber and more nutrition! A winning combination to help you lose weight and heal from chronic illness.
Vegetables can be stir-fried as the main meal or a side dish and the varieties of vegetable combinations and sauces is endless. It is a fantastic cooking technique that will help you to shift from the Standard American Diet of meat with a couple of sides to a healthier balance of flavorful vegetables as the primary portion of your meal.
As a fan of one-pot meals – not only because they are easy to prepare and easy to clean up after – I regularly stir-fry vegetables with flavorful sauces for my evening meals.
For those who are just starting out and don’t really know where to begin with how long to cook them, I’ve provided a table for your reference below.
The trick is to get them hot but not mushy. Begin with the denser veggies first then add in the softer veggies in after the first ones have cooked a bit so that they are all ready at the same time.
It is best to cut up all of your ingredients, including creating the sauces, first so that they are ready when it is time to cook. You may use prepared sauces that you can find in various sections of your grocery store – mainly the Asian section.
I find it best to use a very large cutting board since stir-fried vegetables take up a bit of space when they are cut up and school yourself on using a good, sharp, Chef’s knife that will speed up the chopping process. This is a link to a video on using a Chef’s knife properly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arOHmHYhEaY&feature=related
To cook you will need:
A large wok or frying pan (lid is optional)
A large spoon to stir-fry the vegetables
Small amounts of olive or coconut oil
Cut up vegetables
Sauce of your choice
To begin cooking, place your wok or frying pan over medium-high to high heat. When pan is hot, add the specified amount of oil. When the oil is hot (never let it get hot enough to smoke) begin putting in your vegetables. If you are cooking only one kind of vegetable put it all in at once. If cooking more than one kind, then follow the chart below for cooking times adding the firmest foods first and the softest foods last.
A recipe may call for some sort of liquid to aid the cooking process – almost as a way to steam the vegetables. It may be vegetable broth if you are choosing to void meats, otherwise, chicken or beef broth is fine. Some people just use a bit of water. Add the liquid, cover and cook for the remaining time. As the vegetables cook the liquid will evaporate thus preserving the nutritional value of the vegetables.
The times in the chart below are to be used as guides. Actual cooking times will vary depending on the freshness and maturity of the veggies and on your individual preference. You may taste the vegetables during the cooking to determine if they are the right texture and continue to cook accordingly.
Do not crowd your pan with too much food. A traditional 12 to 14 inch wok can handle about 5 cups of cut-up vegetables. If you are using a smaller pan reduce the amount of vegetables accordingly. To prepare more servings that you can cook at once, just cut up the total quantity of vegetables needed, then cook them in two or more batches. Stir-frying is so fast that the first portions will stay warm, without losing their flavor while you are cooking the rest.
If you or your family is used to the Standard American Diet, begin incorporating stir-fried veggies as side dishes then gradually increase the proportions of vegetables and reduce the amount of meats. Eventually you can cut the meats into strips and stir-fry with the vegetables and then eliminate them altogether if you so choose.
Incorporate them into your meals in any way you choose as they will nourish your body and provide endless variety to make your taste buds happy!
To your health!