What is the deal with Asian food? It’s so incredibly addictive, and I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s because the flavors are so stinkin’ yummy. But I can run down a laundry list of all sorts of seriously delicious foods that don’t make me crave them like it’s 11pm in my ninth month with my first child. I really should do some research on this.
In the meantime, I’m going to share a healthy twist on two of my favorite Asian dishes rolled into one…chicken lo mein and cashew chicken. That’s “cashew chicken lo mein.” I knew this dish needed to be shared when Jake’s 3rd grade friend from down the street ran into the house today asking if he could have a bite of whatever smelled so good…and he devoured all of our leftovers before I could say, “take off those muddy shoes.”
This dish is a perfect way to use leftover grilled chicken. Next time you throw chicken breasts or tenderloins on the grill, toss on another pound or so, and you’ll have yourself the foundation of a fabulous stir-fry the next day. If you don’t have leftovers when you’re ready to whip this up, stir frying the chicken will add only a few minutes to the cook time.
This dish uses reduced sodium soy sauce, but not much…only 3 Tbsp. It’s the Madeira wine that gives it a punch of flavor without adding extra sodium or fat. While Madeira sounds a little over-the-top for a quick meal, I promise you this fortified wine is super easy to stock. It’s readily available at most liquor stores in the aisle with the Sherry, Marsala, and Port. And because it’s fortified, it should keep for up to one year after opening. Madeira is a fabulous wine for Asian dishes, and it can give great flavor to other sauces and dishes as well, so grab a cheap bottle next time you’re out! If you don’t like to use wine when you cook, double the amount of rice wine vinegar and add some Worcestershire and chicken broth.
Yeah, you could easily order take-out from your favorite Asian eatery. And trust me, if we’re doing take-out, Asian always gets my vote. (Pregnant or not.) But as delicious as it is, there are untold amounts of sodium, fat, and sugar in those yummolicious cartons. So take 20 minutes to stir fry your own! Much cheaper and healthier, and you’ll use up that leftover chicken. Just try not to get addicted!
Shake that booty!
Cashew Chicken Lo Mein
Prep and cook time: 20 minutes
- 6 to 8 oz. thin spaghetti (I recommend 51% whole wheat)
- 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth (or 1 cup water mixed with chicken broth base)
- 1/2 cup Madeira wine (or 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar + 2 Tbsp Worcestershire + 1/4 cup chicken broth)
- 3 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce (or add a couple dashes of any spicy sauce…this doesn’t make it spicy, just jazzes it up)
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 pound leftover grilled chicken breasts or tenderloins (or uncooked if you don’t have any leftover)
- 1 red bell pepper (or any other color bell pepper)
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 cups (or so) broccoli florets (I buy florets fresh in a bag from the produce section)
- 1/2 cup cashews
- Sesame seeds for garnish, if desired
- Heat a large pot of water to boil for the spaghetti, and meanwhile prep the sauce
- Wisk together chicken broth, wine (or wine sub), soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sesame oil, and chili garlic sauce in a medium bowl. Then add corn starch and wisk just until blended…don’t over stir the corn starch or it will lose some of its thickening function.
- Cook spaghetti according to package directions, al dente
- While spaghetti is cooking, slice the bell pepper, and slice the chicken into bite size pieces
- Heat veggie oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat
- Drain spaghetti and set aside
- If chicken is not already cooked, stir fry chicken for about 3 minutes or until cooked through, and transfer to a large bowl
- Add broccoli to wok/skillet, and stir fry for about 1 minute, then add pepper strips and cashews and stir fry another minute
- Transfer broccoli, peppers, and cashews to a large bowl with the cooked chicken
- Pour sauce mixture into the wok/skillet, and bring to a boil (this won’t take long)…then reduce heat to low and simmer for a few seconds until thickened
- Dump veggies, cashews, chicken, and spaghetti into the wok with the sauce and stir together
- Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired