Last Updated on August 28, 2018 by Fiona Maclean
Healthy Chicken Stir-Fry – Easy Low-Calorie Recipe:
I’m happily back doing the 5:2 diet to try and lose a little weight. You’ll find one of my favourite recipes for Chicken Stir-Fry at the bottom of this post – I love it so much I’m happy to eat it whether or not I am dieting. A stir-fry made carefully can be very low calorie – and it’s the kind of quick and easy recipe I like best. Because the prep is really quick, it’s great if you are trying other kinds of intermittent fasting – I find it particularly difficult not to get hungry if there’s a big pan of bolognese sauce bubbling away on the stove. With a stir-fry, you can have your meal prepared and on the plate in 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish. And, chicken is naturally low fat and relatively low in calories, so a chicken stir fry is ideal!
In some effort to kick start things this time, I’ve been researching what is commonly called OMAD (one meal a day) and I’m using a combination of that and 5:2 to try and manage my habit of snacking throughout the day. With OMAD you pick a window during which time you can eat anything you want (on a non-fast day) and, if like me you are doing the 5:2 diet alongside it, you stick to your normal 500 or 600 calories on fast days. There are plenty of people who manage to lose weight just doing OMAD but sadly I don’t seem to be one of them. The most significant difference between this way of eating and my ‘old’ 5:2 diet is that those who champion OMAD say you need to ‘clean fast’ outside of your eating window. That is, you can’t eat or drink anything that will cause an insulin spike – from zero calorie coke through to coffee with milk. Because of my own lifestyle, I’m flexing the plan to accommodate restaurant reviews at different times of the day and even press trips. Sometimes I have a 2-hour window, sometimes a 6 hour one. But, I am drinking black coffee or herb tea outside of my eating window and I am avoiding even the odd mouthful of food to taste.
My experience to date is that it works well for me. I feel less hungry if I eat nothing than if I have a milky coffee and an oat biscuit at breakfast for instance. It is definitely stopping me from snacking and I have lost 2.6kg in the last three weeks, despite a 2-night stay at a hotel with an excellent restaurant, several meals out and even an afternoon tea. Like 5:2, it is rebalancing my portion control and helping me manage my eating patterns. I started by using an 8-hour window (essentially skipping breakfast) but now, I am confident with a 2-hour window when it fits into my lifestyle!
This recipe for Chicken Stir fry is one which allows for infinite variation. You could make it with pork, beef or shrimps as the ‘protein’ element and the vegetables that you use can be changed depending on availability. The main difference between this method of stir frying and a traditional Chinese version is that the oil in the wok to cook has been cut right down. Regardless of ‘slimming’, when I was at the School of Wok I was taught to add a tablespoon of water during the stir frying process, rather than extra oil. And to use sesame oil as a dressing rather than part of the cooking process.
The final tip if you want to try making this kind of low-calorie stir fry is to order your ingredients depending on cooking time. Chop and slice everything you need in advance and lay it out carefully next to the wok. First the ‘hard’ vegetables and seasoning ingredients, then the meat and finally the soft vegetables.
- 1 Small skinless chicken breast about 80g
- 1 head pak choi The small, dark leafed version
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 Large chilli
- 1 handful fresh peas
- 1 " fresh ginger
- 1 handful fresh coriander
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- 2-3 shots 1-cal spray
- 8-10 green beans
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
Shred the pak choi, chop the garlic and ginger finely, de-seed and chop the chilli. Slice the chicken breast along the grain to make long fingers. Chop the coriander.
Trim and cut the spring onions and beans into one inch slices.
Place all the fresh ingredients on a board close to the cooker. To make life easy, put them in a circle, with the 'longest cooking' ingredient at 12oclock (the ginger and garlic, then the chicken)
Mix the cornflour with the mirin and soy and put the chicken into the liquid tossing it to coat it well
Spray a non-stick wok with 1-cal. Heat over a medium to high temperature.
Add in the chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes. Now add in the ginger, garlic and chilli and continue to cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Next add the beans, cook for a further minute. Add in the peas, spring onions and pak choi and continue to cook till the pak choi is wilted through. If necessary add in a tablespoon or two of water.
Add the remainder of the marinade and cook for 20-30 seconds. Take the wok off the heat and stir through the coriander and sesame oil.
It is an utterly delicious supper that takes no more than 20 minutes to make. And has well under 300 calories (without rice), so you can choose to add in a small portion of boiled rice or noodles depending on your personal taste.
Why not pin this recipe for later? It’s delicious and really easy to make.