15 Minute Vegetarian Stir Fry on a Budget
I hear it all the time. People telling me that it must be nice that I have all this free time to cook. They tell me they just don’t have the time to cook or that cooking healthy, nutritious foods is too expensive or that they have more mouths to feed and that I wouldn’t understand.
While yes, I do enjoy challenging myself to create and execute complex recipes, I also lead a busy life and often don’t have the time or money to throw down a 3 course dinner. I can relate to sometimes needing food to be convenient but I refuse to buy into the idea that it can’t be both convenient and healthy.
We have been conditioned to treat food as an inconvenience. This is evident by the long lines you’ll see around lunch or dinner time at your local fast food drive thrus. The fast food revolution has poured marketing money into feeding your insecurities around unhealthy and quick options because that’s their business. It’s how they survive and make money by encouraging us to make unhealthy dining decisions out of necessity for fast and inexpensive options.
Our bodies naturally crave sugar. This stems back to a time before sugars were processed and jammed into everything we eat. In this period of time, sugar was only naturally available, mainly in fruit, and finding it and consuming it gave your body instant energy. These sugars also convert to fat which the body could later use.
It’s not just widely used in fast food, but almost ALL processed food contains processed sugar in one form or another. Why do you think that is? First of all, sugar makes just about everything taste better. Did you know they pack sugar into the buns, cheese, meat and french fries at all your typical fast food restaurants? Would you really crave unsweetened lemonade or soda? Did you know a can of coke contains the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar? No wonder people are crazy for soda. It gives your brain instant gratification and energy like fruit and natural sugars provided in a time before products like this existed.
The food industry is very well aware of how the human body and brain works and understands that sugar addiction is real and serves as a fantastic medium to create addiction to unhealthy, low cost food.
I could go on for chapters on this topic but my main point here is that the food industry has taken advantage of this knowledge of what the body craves to use against us in unhealthy ways. I’m here to say that there are convenient and low cost alternatives to fast food. Food can be celebrated with people you care about without costing an arm a leg and you don’t need to take the day off work to prepare nutritious and tasty meals at home.
This dialogue brings me to a recipe that you’re going to love. It’s a healthy vegetarian version of your favorite Chinese stir-fry. You can make this recipe using any vegetables you happen to have on hand. You could even use frozen vegetables if that’s all you have available although if you go that route, be sure not to overcook them as they won’t need as much time as fresh. This dish comes together in 15 minutes and can feed a family of 4 for around $10. I challenge you to achieve the same at your local fast food joint.
You’ve probably noticed that after an hour or two after eating fast food, that you start to feel hungry again. This is because your blood sugar spiked when eating but has quickly dropped back down. Your brain is being tricked. It’s telling your body to consume more high sugar foods to give your body energy.
Vegetables are higher in fiber than processed foods and it’s that fiber that will keep you feeling full. It’s no surprise that vegetables are high in nutrients and vitamins either and eating a diet full of them will help your body in many ways like helping reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- 1 onion – sliced
- 2 inch knob of ginger – peeled and julienned (matchsticks)
- 2 carrots – peeled and cut into moons
- 2 stalks celery – sliced
- 1 large zucchini – cut into half moons
- Handful of green beans – cleaned
- 2 green onions – sliced
- 2 Tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds or peanuts
- 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
Stir Fry Sauce
- ¼ C liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ C apple cider vinegar
- ¼ C water
- 1 inch knob ginger – minced
- 3 cloves garlic – minced
- 1 Tbsp raw honey
- 1 tsp – Siracha or your favorite hot sauce
- 1 tsp corn starch
Heat oil in a wok or large saute pan on medium heat.
Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add ginger and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add your carrots and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. While the carrots and celery are going you can make the stir fry sauce by combining the liquid aminos or soy, vinegar, water, ginger, garlic, honey and hot sauce. Mix well with a fork then stir in the corn starch.
Add the zucchini and green beans to the wok. Give it a good stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. You don’t want to over cook the vegetables. They should be crisp and firm when served.
Pour the stir fry sauce into the wok and stir everything together. You can add a bit more water if the sauce starts off too thick or if you need to bulk it up a bit. Lower the heat to low/medium and cook until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are full coated. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary. If more salt is needed, add more liquid aminos or soy.
You can serve this over steamed rice or noodles or simply eat as is.
Spoon into serving bowls and top with chopped green onion and roasted pumpkin seeds or peanuts.