Easy Veggie Recipes
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One thing is for certain, major scientific-based research on human nutrition recommends that most of us need to increase our fruit and vegetable intake. This ensures we get the nutrients we need each day to maintain good health and to prevent developing many chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables are powerhouses of nutrients without heavy amounts of calories, fats, and sugars if we watch how we prepare them. It is worth the effort to discover ways to enjoy fruits and vegetables, since our bodies do not perform well without them. Fruits and vegetables are considered to be nutrient dense, says Rhonda Church from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, EFNEP at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center. Of course, we need a variety of foods from all 5 food groups, grain (preferably whole), vegetables, fruits (preferable whole fruits instead of juice for the fiber), low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and lean protein.
Focus on ways to add colorful vegetables to your diet, here are some simple delicious recipes for stir fry. Most stir fry dishes require a little preparation before you begin cooking, but are fast and easy. These recipes include a sauce that is tasty, delicious, and much lower in sodium and added sugar than store-bought bottled sauces. However, if you are in a pinch and need to use a bottled sauce don’t let that stop you from eating your vegetables, maybe cut back on how much you use.
Here are a couple of stir fry recipes from the EFNEP website.
Chinese Vegetable Stir Fry
Makes 4 servings
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 head broccoli
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- Combine pineapple juice, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Chop the broccoli into bite-size pieces of flowers and stalk, removing tough parts. Rinse well and set aside. Do the same with the cauliflower.
- Wash carrots and slice into thin slices.
- Wash celery stalks and cut off both ends. Cut into small slices.
- Wash the red pepper and slice in half. Remove the seeds and white membranes. Slice into thin strips.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and celery; cook for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Stir sauce well and add sauce to skillet, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute. Stir to distribute sauce over vegetables. Serve over brown rice.
Source: Cooking with EFNEP
Super Stir Fry
Makes 2 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
- Choose 5 vegetables (½ cup of each)
- Choose 1 starch (1 cup per person, cooked according to package directions)
- Brown rice
- White rice
- Rice noodles
- Whole-wheat spaghetti noodles
- Other Ingredients
- ¼ cup stir-fry sauce (see recipe below)
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Wash and chop selected vegetables into small evenly sized pieces. You may cut them into circles, strips, or cubes as desired. A variety of shapes will make the stir-fry more pleasing to the eye.
- Make Stir-Fry Sauce (see recipe below).
- Heat a small amount (1 tablespoon or less) of vegetable oil over high heat in a 10-inch frying pan, electric skillet, or wok.
- Keeping the heat high, add vegetables to the pan in order of firmness–harder foods first and ending with the softest foods.
- Toss vegetables during cooking to keep them from sticking. When stir-frying, cooked vegetables should still be crisp and retain their bright color.
- Add sauce to taste (about ¼ cup). Stir-fry until all vegetables are thoroughly coated.
- Serve with the starch of choice.
Source: Cooking with EFNEP
Makes ½ cup
- 2 tablespoons sodium-free beef bouillon
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dark molasses
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- Dash of black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil gently, uncovered for 5 or more minutes or until sauce is reduced to ½ cup.
- When cooked, pour into a lidded jar and keep in the refrigerator.
- Stir before using.
Source: Cooking with EFNEP
Here is a great healthy way to use the Raman Noodles your family loves so much.
Mo (Moo) Indonesian Stir-Fry
Enjoy the flavors of peanuts, chili pepper, and ginger in this stir-fry recipe.
Yield 10 cups Prep time 10 minutes Cook time 30 minutes Total time 40 minutes
- 4 cups water
- 2 packages ramen-style noodles (3 ounces each)
- 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, cut in thin strips)
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger (finely chopped [or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger])
- 2 carrots (thinly sliced, about 2 cups)
- 1 cabbage (large head, thinly sliced, about 6 cups)
- 1 cup green onions (thinly sliced)
Notes To avoid peanuts or peanut butter, try this stir fry with sunflower seeds or sunflower seed butter.
- Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a 2 to 3-quart saucepan. Add noodles, cover, and remove from heat (do not add flavor packets). Wait one minute, drain noodles, and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup water. Heat over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (350 degrees in an electric skillet). Add chicken and cook until no longer pink when cut, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add red pepper, ginger, and carrots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until cabbage is crisp-tender.
- Stir in green onions, cooked noodles, and peanut sauce. Toss and serve immediately.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Meal Type: Dinner
Food group: Vegetables, Protein, Grains
Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
As you can see these recipes are versatile and easy to make. You can use any vegetables you have in the refrigerator. This is a great way to use fresh vegetables, before they go bad. Always keep frozen vegetables, they are ready to use anytime. Simply add the frozen vegetables to a saucepan and cook the water out, add a little oil and continue cooking quickly for a few more minutes, then add the sauce.
You can add leftover chicken, pork, or steak. Change it up by adding a can of rinsed bean sprouts, water chestnuts, or bamboo shoots to make it more authentic. If you want to add fresh protein, cook the protein first until browned, then remove from the pan. Add vegetables to the pan and after vegetables are cooked; add the protein back to the vegetables. Add sauce and cook until the protein is done. Make sure to test the doneness of the protein using a food thermometer. Chicken should be cooked to 165°F, pork and beef should be cooked to at least 145°F.
For fewer carbohydrates use cauliflower rice as a substitute. It is great to combine some regular rice with cauliflower rice. Or for added protein use Quinoa instead of rice.
Another tip for making a delicious sauce with added flavor is to use low sodium chicken broth for the water called for. If you don’t have all the ingredients you can always improvise. That is what makes a stir fry a great go-to dinner. A stir fry takes around 30 minutes to make, so it is a great go-to weeknight dinner.
In EFNEP class you can learn how to prepare simple quick recipes your family will love. We also explore simple tips on how to purchase healthier ingredients while staying on a budget and practice fun ways to help increase your physical activity. For more information about EFNEP contact Rhonda Church, at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center at 336-846-5850.