This easy stir fry vegetables recipe with chicken will get you one step closer to eating the rainbow. Packed full of phytochemical-rich veggies, chicken for protein, and whole-grain brown rice, this nourishing meal is simple enough for novice cooks. Don’t miss my tips for making stir-fry even easier. In addition, I’m also going to introduce you to a fantastic edible plant that you’ve probably never seen before!
Aside from making your meals beautiful, creating dishes with a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables may benefit your body. How? A variety of colors provides a large assortment of phytochemicals that cannot be found in one color of produce alone.
Today’s easy stir fry vegetables recipe with chicken features some veggies that my family likes. However, you don’t have to eat how my family eats for good health. Feel free to change the fruits and vegetables up as you prefer to fit your needs best!
However you modify this one, though, aim to keep lots of different colors on your plate. Here are a few suggestions for substitutions:
- If you don’t like snow peas, try broccoli, spinach, zucchini, green cabbage, or celery.
- Not a fan of pineapple? How about mandarin oranges for a different fruity flavor? If you are on a low-carb diet, yellow bell peppers or summer squash are some yellow low-carb alternatives.
- Instead of red and orange peppers, don’t forget about carrots, winter squashes, or tomatoes.
There are so many fruits and veggies to choose from, so don’t feel that you need to limit yourself! Filling your plate with colorful produce is a great way to provide more volume to a meal while keeping the calories low.
Common complaint: cooking whole grains and chopping vegetables takes too long!
Many people don’t enjoy cooking and would prefer not to spend time chopping up a bunch of fruits and veggies, if possible. Also, whole grains (such as the brown rice in this recipe) can take 45 minutes to cook, a huge chunk of time.
I promised at the top of the article that I’d give some tips to make cooking a stir fry even easier. These tips can be applied to this recipe or other stirfry recipes:
- Consider swapping slow-cooking grains and pseudo-grains for their faster whole grain alternatives. For example, instead of brown rice or wild rice (cooking time 45 minutes), choose quinoa (cooking time 15 minutes).
- Use pre-cooked grains and prepared veggies. It is possible to purchase unseasoned, cooked brown rice in some stores. Many supermarkets have cleaned and chopped vegetables in both the fresh and frozen sections. Though these options tend to be a little more expensive, they can be worth it if time is a barrier to healthier eating.
- Instead of fresh fruit, use fruit canned in its juice. You can save time with the recipe below by swapping the fresh pineapple and juice for canned pineapple in juice. Skip the grilling step and throw the pineapple into the wok when you add the poultry.
- Go the lower carb route. One more way to save time is to ditch the grains altogether and use a frozen package of riced cauliflower instead. This move will also cut the carbs and calories in the dish, so it may be a win all around. (Depending on your goals, of course.)
Depending on the shortcuts you take, you can create a stir fry without having to cook grains or chop veggies at all! Woohoo!
How NOT to serve Buddha’s hand: learn from my mistakes.
Remember how I said I’d discuss an edible plant that you’ve probably never encountered previously? Well, here it is, the wildly weird-looking Buddha’s hand:
When I saw this in a local supermarket, I had to get it, even though I had no idea how to prepare it. I mean, look at it, with those tentacle-like protrusions! How could I resist?
Honestly, it ended up being somewhat expensive, so I was very motivated to find a delicious way to enjoy it. Unfortunately, most recipes using Buddha’s hand involve lots and lots of sugar (3 cups of sugar was not uncommon to see). It seems candied Buddha’s hand is one of the most popular ways to eat this food.
I learned that I should think of this plant as a giant citrus rind and pith with no fruit. In that light, making it into a candy makes sense. However, I really wanted to turn it into something savory.
So, what I did was save the zest (yellow part) in the freezer for future use. Then I thinly sliced the pith (white part) and put it in a stir fry. Looks lovely, doesn’t it?
Looks are deceiving in this case because the sharp citrus flavor of the Buddha’s hand completely overwhelmed the rest of the dish. No bueno.
I am so glad that my son was not home for dinner that evening. He was spared the citrus-infused nightmare. Haha
In summary, if you come across this plant and insist on using it in savory dishes, a little goes a long way. Use SMALL amounts in recipes, precisely as you’d use lemon zest. Freeze the rest for later use.
Whatever you do, don’t go throwing a bunch of it in this easy stir fry vegetables recipe. You have been warned!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Easy Stir Fry Vegetables Recipe with Chicken
- ¾ cup brown rice, dry
- 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
- 1 medium onion, cut into strips
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 medium orange bell pepper, cut into strips
- 9 ounces snow peas (255 grams)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces fresh pineapple, chopped (227 grams)
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- ¾ cup pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 lb. cooked chicken or turkey breast, shredded (454 grams; leftover rotisserie chicken works here)
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped (divided)
- cooking oil spray of choice
- Cook the rice in water according to package directions. It will take about 45 minutes, so it is important to get it started first.
- Optional step: mist a grill pan with the cooking spray. Grill the pineapple for 5-10 minutes per side. Don't let it burn!
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onion, garlic, snow peas, and jalapeno. Cook for approximately 5 minutes until they soften, stirring frequently.
- Turn the heat up to high. Add the poultry, pineapple juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fresh pineapple, and ¼-cup of the cilantro. Cook for 3-5 more minutes, until heated through.
- Divide the cooked rice between three bowls or meal prep containers. Top with the stir fry. Garnish with the remaining ¼-cup cilantro.
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). If you are a regular reader, you can probably guess how I would knock this one down to level 1. Cutting out the brown rice will not only save time; it will also knock approximately 170 calories off per serving. Leaving the veggies and chicken preserves most of the satiety-promoting protein, fiber, and water in the entree. I often see dietetic organizations posting entrée recipes with only 10-15 grams of protein per serving. If you are eating three meals like this per day, you will not even meet the (already low) RDA for protein. Make including sufficient protein a priority when you plan your meals; there is no need to fear this important macronutrient! For those who want to make this dish as easy as possible, I gave several time-saving tips above. Stir fry is an excellent weeknight meal, perfect for when you need to get dinner on the table fast.
What are some of your favorite veggies to add to stir fry? If you enjoyed this dish, please don’t forget to share it on Pinterest or your other social media channels. Thank you!