A Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry with Garlic, Chili and Sesame
Here’s a simple and tasty chicken and cashew stir fry recipe using some very healthy ingredients. After a little work on the chopping board, it’s quick and easy to cook and makes for a nutritious lunch or dinner. With its low carbohydrates and metabolism boosting ingredients it’s also a great meal for anyone looking to lose weight.
Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry Ingredients for 2 (Double for 4)
1 free range and organic chicken breast, cut down the middle and then sliced thinly so it will cook quickly.
I’d really recommend paying a little more for organic chicken whenever you can. Aside from the appalling conditions that broiler chickens are raised in, they are also fed a diet so bizarre you really don’t want to be eating the meat that develops as a result.
For starters, at least in the USA, roxarsone an arsenic-based chemical is regularly added to chicken feeds to control parasites, increase growth rates and change the color of the meat. Steroidal hormones are also found in testing. Once again these are administered in the feed to speed up their growth.
Pesticide residues are ingested by chickens from their large scale use in grain production for animal feed. And a double dose of antibiotics are also usually administered in their feed as the incredibly crowded conditions they live in are likely to lead to many diseases.
Free range organic chickens on the other hand are raised on farms that are prohibited from using any of the chemicals or antibiotics above and their feed cannot be from genetically modified crops. Testing of organic chicken meat also shows it has higher levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, better muscle development and around two thirds less abdominal fat than ‘conventional’ broiler chickens.
The choice is yours but I really hope more people will switch to organic chicken. If not for the chicken’s welfare, at least for their own.
2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil
Don’t be afraid of the fat in coconut oil. Its medium chain fatty acids have been shown to promote abdominal fat burning and improve blood sugar control. With the very low carbohydrates in this meal you are also unlikely to activate the body’s fat storing mechanism.
3 medium organic carrots, scrubbed and chopped thinly for quicker cooking.
This same ability to absorb minerals from the ground though is also what makes it vital that you get your carrots organic. Any pesticides or heavy metal contamination in the soil your carrots are growing in can be absorbed right into the vegetable. Washing them won’t help so carrots are a food really worth getting organic.
A quarter of a head of organic broccoli, cut into thin slices.
Just a cup of broccoli contains more than the RDA of free radical quenching vitamin C. Is also high in minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron and zinc. Additionally, broccoli has excellent levels of vitamin K, along with vitamin E and most of the B vitamins. It really is a natural green multivitamin.
Broccoli is particularly valuable for its anti-cancer compounds like indole-3-carbinol, glucoraphanin and significant carotenoid content. It is even a good source of lutein to protect your eyes from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
1 bok choy, preferably organic or soaked in hot water and vinegar and chopped.
While bok choy is one of the most popular vegetables in Chinese cooking, these days it is predominantly grown in California for the US market.
It has a mild flavor but is full of nutrition in the form of extremely high levels of pro-vitamin A carotenoids and xanthophylls for healthy eyes. It is also a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins and vitamin K that helps to prevent diseases of inflammation like arthritis and osteoporosis. And like all members of the cabbage family, it contains a variety of compounds that are believed to lower your risk of developing cancer.
1 small hot chili, like birdseye, seeds removed and very finely chopped. Alternatively 1 0r 2 medium chilies like fresno or mirasol, also deseeded and finely sliced. At a pinch, chili flakes can be used but fresh chili is always better.
Be careful not to touch sensitive areas after handling chili. Despite the precautions needed when preparing them, they can be powerful metabolism boosters and health promoters that provoke a slightly addictive release of endorphins after eating them.
The capsaicin compound in chilies has been shown to boost circulation and help control blood sugar, improving the health of your heart and reducing the risk of strokes.
Chiles also reduce inflammatory conditions of the body and the associated pain, clear up congestion and raise your metabolic rate for several hours after eating them, making them a great fat loss food.
A handful of organic cashews, crushed up in a bag on the chopping board or in your hand before throwing them in.
Cashews are rich in oleic acid, flavonoids, magnesium and copper. Amongst other things, they are great food for healthy skin and hair and with their rich taste make a satisfying snack to help you avoid junk food.
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, crushed.
The allicin and diallyl sulphides in garlic are powerful compounds believed to be responsible for its anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits. Garlic also has strong anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties that will boost your immunity and usually help fight off a cold much better than doctor’s drugs.
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice.
Lime is full of antioxidant flavonoids and vitamin C and gives this stir fry a delicious tang. It also balances out the fire of the chili and it can be good to serve this meal with an extra wedge of lime for anyone who doesn’t like things too spicy. They’ll be surprised at just how much an extra squeeze of lime juice can cool things down.
3 tablespoons of sesame seeds.
Sesame seeds are surprisingly good for you with a strong antioxidant content, high levels of B vitamins and many essential minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron and selenium. Lightly fried in the coconut oil, they give a great Asian twist to the taste of this dish as well.
1 medium onion, with just the outer layer peeled off and then chopped for gentle frying.
You can put your onions in the fridge or freezer for a while before chopping them to minimize the gas that makes your eyes water. Most of the beneficial flavonoids they contain are in the outer skin so try and peel off only the papery outer layer.
1 tablespoon of traditional fermented tamari soy sauce.
While I generally avoid soy, fermenting deals with much of the issues with it and this is a healthy replacement to table salt with a far better flavor.
How to Make a Spicy Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry
Begin by melting the coconut oil on a low heat in a large saucepan or wok, preferably ceramic like this to avoid the recently discovered health implications of Teflon coated cookware. Add the chopped onions and carrots and stir them to coat them in the oil. If you have a lid, put it on the wok to help the vegetables cook more quickly on a lower heat (and keep the onion’s gas contained). Stir occasionally.
After a couple of minutes and when the onions are starting to turn clear, add the sesame seeds and chili and stir these in. Follow this with the thinly sliced chicken and broccoli. Move the chicken around in the wok until it is predominantly white, but don’t be tempted to turn the heat up too high and overcook it.
Finally, add the bok choy, garlic, lime juice, tamari and cashews. Mix these in and replace the lid for about a minute more. Bok choy cooks quickly and the other ingredients really only need to be warmed.
Stir one final time and check that a large piece of chicken is cooked. If you sliced it thinly this really shouldn’t be a problem and this low heat method of lightly frying and steaming makes for a more tender chicken then you’re likely to get with high heat.
Serve into bowls, perhaps garnished with a couple of extra cashews on top and eat immediately. I hope you enjoy it.