I had an email from a new weight-loss surgery patient a few days ago…she’s just passed the soft and pureed stage of eating (which I call the Amber Stage) and is aching for something with a bit of a crunch. She mentioned stir-fry and I thought, what a good idea, for stir-fries enable you to pack in the protein and vitamins with just a small satisfying portion.
They are a favourite of mine and I guess I make one version every single week, depending upon what is left in my vegetable store or what I have just purchased at the superstore or farmer’s market. For these endlessly versatile and therefore variable dishes lend themselves to using up leftovers or celebrating what is the freshest and best in season.
Initially you may have to make sure that you cook the ingredients on the tender rather than tender/al dente side and then raise the heat and cook faster with a crisper result as you get farther along the WLS journey road…but you’ll have fun mixing and matching ingredients and find a few friends and foes along the way.
My only word of caution ….
comes with stir-fry sauces and marinades…proceed with caution! Some have a huge amount of sugar, salt and believe it or not oil (fat) in them, so check the back of pack or make your own. The simplest and easiest I know is to mix an equal quantity of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce to use as a marinade for meat, fish, poultry and vegetables prior to cooking.
So here are a couple to get started … the 1st a Ginger and Lemon Chicken Stir Fry, is a good everyday option. It uses chicken breast fillets or strips (but you could use thigh fillet strips if you find them less dry). The crunchy stir-fry vegetable ingredients are up to you … what do you have left in your chiller drawer? In mine you can see I had dwarf corn, broccoli, carrots, a little red cabbage and onion. It’s the lemon and ginger that lifts this ordinary combination into the luxury and tasty class. Feel free to experiment and find your favourite combination. You can always use a frozen combination or shop the pre-chopped vegetable section of your salad bar for speed and variety in a small quantity.
GINGER AND LEMON CHICKEN STIR FRY
250 g/8 oz skinless and boneless chicken breast fillets or strips
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
low-fat cooking spray or mist
150 g/5 oz prepared stir-fry vegetables (for example, onion, dwarf corn, broccoli florets, carrot strips and shredded red cabbage)
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp grated root ginger or Lazy Ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut the chicken into thin slices and toss with the Chinese 5 spice powder to coat.
2. Generously spritz a wok or large non-stick frying pan/skillet with low-fat cooking spray or mist and heat until hot. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until just cooked through. Remove and set aside.
3. Spritz again with low-fat cooking spray, add the vegetable mixture and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until almost tender.
4. Return the chicken to the pan with the lemon zest, juice, ginger, soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste, mixing well. Cook for a further 1 minute. Serve with noodles or rice if liked and tolerated.
WLS PORTION: 1/2
CALORIES PER PORTION: 170
The 2nd recipe is a stir-fry with a difference and likely to suit early post-oppers better than the full-on all-in-one-pan option. The cod (or other white fish fillets) is lightly grilled/broiled until tender and opaque and therefore easily digestible but then served on a colourful bed of peppers/capsicums, mangetout or sugar-snap peas with carrots and beansprouts. You could try ringing the changes with green beans, baby dwarf corn, red onion, courgettes/zucchini and broccoli florets the next time to make it.
GRILLED ALASKA PACIFIC COD WITH PEPPER STIR FRY
4 x 150 g/5 oz skinless wild Alaska Pacific cod fillets (or other white fish fillets)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
6 spring onions/scallions, thinly sliced
low-fat cooking spray or mist
2 red and 2 yellow peppers/capsicums, deseeded and finely sliced
125 g/4 oz mangetout or sugar snap peas, halved
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick strips
225 g/2 cups beansprouts
freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the grill/broiler. Cover the grill or broiler rack with foil and arrange the cod fillets on top. Sprinkle the fish with the lime zest, juice and a few slices of the spring onion/scallion. Grill/broil for 6-8 minutes until cooked. When cooked the fish will be opaque and will flake easily.
2. Meanwhile, generously spritz a wok or large non-stick frying/saute pan with low fat cooking spray or mist and heat until hot. Add the peppers, remaining spring onions/scallions, mangetout or sugar snap peas and carrot. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Finally add the beansprouts and stir fry for a further 1-2 minutes.
3. Share the stir-fry between 4 serving plates and top each one with a cod fillet. Serve, seasoned with soy sauce and freshly ground black pepper.
WLS PORTION: 1/2
CALORIES PER PORTION: 235