As anyone who has had the “luck” to be around me recently could tell you, I’m about to go on vacation! To Europe. I’m pumped. I haven’t been out of the country for three years (except Mexico, which hardly counts) so the anticipation is killing me. Know what else is killing me? My finances. Iceland and the UK are not exactly cheap, especially since I’ll want to live it up while I’m traveling, so I’ve been trying really hard not to burn through my money at restaurants and bars as usual. For some people this might not be much of a feat, but for me it’s extremely difficult, since those two types of establishments represent the cornerstone of my social life. Sigh.
So that leaves me to do a lot of cooking at home, which I also love of course, but groceries can really add up as well. In the past couple weeks I’ve really been focusing on simple, healthy meals at home. It’s kind of a fun challenge; how can I make not-really-boring dinners for my boyfriend Rob and I while still staying on, if not under, my travel savings budget? (At least I try to tell myself it’s “fun.” Once again… sigh.) Anyway, this is beginning to sound like the intro to Rachael Ray’s $40 a Day or something, so let’s just get to the point.
One solution I’ve been really into lately is the stir fry. Cheap and healthy, this meal has become a mainstay in our household, and I’ve practically perfected my recipe. It’s easy, quick, and tastes absolutely awesome. If you’re unfamiliar with any of these ingredients, just (a) check out your local Asian market, and if you don’t have a local Asian market, (b) check out the ethnic and/or health food section of your grocery store.
Ridiculously Easy Broccoli Stir Fry
One head of broccoli (or a couple broccoli florets, whatever you want), chopped into bite-size pieces 1 tbsp coconut oil
Low-sodium soy sauce (sometimes I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead)
Protein of your choice (I usually use chicken breast or shrimp)
White onion, sliced
If you’re adding meat, seafood, tofu, etc. you’ll want to cook it ahead of time and add it back into your wok/skillet at the very end. If you add meat plus vegetables together, you run the risk of compromising your textures. (Dun dun dunnn!) So cook that like 95% of the way through at first then take it out. Now for the vegetables. Broccoli is my favorite thing to put in a stir fry, but if you want to add other vegetables, by all means don’t let me stop you. I love the broc/onion/mushroom combo, but you can throw in carrots, peppers, peapods… the world is your oyster.
So, for the most simple way to do: if you’re making a small amount of stir fry, get out a deep skillet, or if you’re making a large amount, dig out the wok. Put it on high heat with a tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan. Why coconut oil? First of all, it smells and tastes great. Secondly, it can withstand high heats, meaning it’s not gonna burn (or catch on fire, yes I have caught canola oil on fire in a pan before, it was not great) when you melt it in a super-hot wok. Lastly, coconut oil has all sorts of crazy health benefits, from age-fighting antioxidants to healthy fats that help your body more efficiently burn energy and burn abdominal fat. Basically: coconut oil may look like a scary, solid white blob of fat, but it’s actually an amazing, natural superfood. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
Once the coconut oil has taken (it should take just a second if you put it in there when the pan is extra hot), throw in your broccoli. Watch out – it’s gonna sizzle. The secret to any good stir fry is really high heat, so don’t get freaked out. Once the broc is looking like it’s just cooked through enough, sauce it up. There it not a precise method to this madness, but basically you are going to combine soy, sriracha, and agave for the perfect mix of salty, spicy, and sweet. I like to just do a big squirt of each and adjust to my taste. Usually I have Sriracha > soy > agave (I like it pretty dang spicy and not too sweet). Something about sriracha plus agave together is so, so good.
If you want to kick it up a notch, you can add a few extra ingredients: a scoop of Huy Fong chili garlic sauce and a squirt of lime. That’s really all you need! You have no excuse to use one of those store-bought, corn syrup-infused bottled sauces ever again.