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Long live wok!

When you think of stir-fry dishes, Chinese takeout may come to mind before you picture health food. But this traditional Asian cooking method can be a delicious way to prepare meals without adding extra fat, cholesterol or calories. Stir-frying is best done in a wok or a large, deep skillet. The method involves quickly stirring food in a small amount of hot oil, which seals in meat and seafood juices and preserves vegetables’ colors and textures.

While many stir-fry recipes reflect Asian flavors and cuisine—combining a small amount of meat, chicken or seafood with a bounty of fresh vegetables—you can cook a variety of fare with this quick-and-easy method. Try some of these flavorful and heart-healthy stir-fry recipes.

Chicken piccata stir-fry

  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice of one medium lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, all visible fat discarded, cut across the grain into 1/8” slices
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 6 to 8 oz. oyster mushrooms, cut into 1” strips
  • 2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 9 oz. refrigerated angel hair pasta
  • 3/4 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1” pieces
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

In a medium bowl, stir together olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, capers and garlic. Stir in the chicken to coat. Set aside.

Heat a wok or a deep 12-inch skillet over high heat. Remove from the heat and lightly coat with vegetable oil spray (being careful not to spray near a gas flame). Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes, or until very soft and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl.

In the same skillet, bring the broth to a boil. Stir in pasta, asparagus and juice of 1/2 lemon. Using tongs or two long-handled spoons, toss gently. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the pasta absorbs most of the broth, tossing gently 4 or 5 times. Using the tongs, transfer the pasta and asparagus to the bowl with the mushrooms. (A small amount of liquid will remain in the skillet.) Add the chicken to the skillet. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the liquid evaporates and chicken is no longer pink in the center, tossing frequently. Return pasta mixture to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, tossing constantly.

Serves 4. Per serving: 356 calories, 3.5 g total fat (0.5 g saturated, 0.5 g polyunsaturated, 1 g monounsaturated), 66 mg cholesterol, 292 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 37 g protein

Stir-fried tofu with bok choy and soba noodles

  • 8 stalks bok choy
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. minced, peeled gingerroot
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 to 14 oz. low-fat extra-firm tofu, drained if needed, cut into 1/2” cubes
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp. low-salt soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 oz. dried soba noodles or whole-wheat angel hair pasta
  • 4 green onions (green and white parts), thinly sliced

Trim the ends off the bok choy; cut stalks and leaves crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, keeping stalks and leaves separate. Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Pour the canola oil into skillet and swirl to coat the bottom.

Cook gingerroot for 10 to 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Watch ginger carefully so it doesn’t burn. Stir in bell pepper and onion. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring constantly. Stir in bok choy stalks (not the leaves yet) and tofu. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until bok choy is tender-crisp and tofu is warmed through, stirring constantly yet gently to keep from breaking up the tofu. Stir in vegetable broth, soy sauce, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Stir in soba noodles. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until noodles are tender and mixture is warmed through, stirring occasionally.

Stir in bok choy leaves and green onions. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until leaves are wilted, stirring occasionally.

Serves 4. Per serving: 202 calories, 4.5 g total fat (0.5 g saturated, 2 g polyunsaturated, 2 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 368 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 13 g protein

Sichuan beef and broccoli

  • 1 lb. boneless sirloin steak, all visible fat discarded
  • 8 oz. wide lo mein noodles, rice noodles or udon noodles
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced, peeled gingerroot
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 7 to 8 oz. small broccoli florets
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 11/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup low-salt soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (green and white parts)

Cut the steak into very thin strips about 11/2 inches long. Cook the noodles using the package directions, omitting the salt and oil. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and lightly coat with vegetable oil spray (being careful not to spray near a gas flame). Cook steak, garlic, gingerroot and red pepper flakes for about 3 minutes, or until steak is barely pink in the center, stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl; set aside. Reduce heat to medium.

In the same skillet, stir together the broccoli, bell pepper and water. Cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Put the cornstarch in a cup. Add the soy sauce, stirring to dissolve. Pour sauce into the broccoli mixture. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until sauce thickens and vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring constantly. Stir in the steak mixture. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. (Don’t overcook or the beef may become tough.) Stir in green onions. To serve, spoon the noodles onto plates. Top with the steak mixture.

Serves 4. Per serving: 408 calories, 5.5 g total fat (2 g saturated, 0.5 g polyunsaturated, 2 g monounsaturated), 69 mg cholesterol, 466 mg sodium, 57 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 32 g protein

Flank steak and green bean stir-fry

  • 14.5-oz. can fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 9-oz. package refrigerated fettuccine
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, strings discarded
  • 1 lb. flank steak, all visible fat and silver skin discarded, cut across the grain into very thin slices (up to 1/4” thick)

Heat a deep 12-inch skillet or wok over high heat. Stir together the broth, vinegar, garlic, sugar, mustard and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add the fettuccine. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring gently and constantly.

Using tongs, transfer the noodles to a medium bowl. Pour half the remaining liquid into a small bowl. Cook the beans in the liquid remaining in the skillet for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender but still bright green and slightly crunchy, stirring constantly. Add the beans to the fettuccine.

Cook the steak and the reserved cooking liquid for 4 minutes, or until nearly all the pink is gone, stirring constantly. Return the beans and fettuccine to the skillet. Heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Serves 4. Per serving: 399 calories, 9.5 g total fat (3.5 g saturated, 0.5 g polyunsaturated, 3.5 g monounsaturated), 54 mg cholesterol, 249 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 32 g protein

Recipes reprinted from the American HeartAssociation One-Dish Meals Cookbook. Copyright © 2003. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Available from booksellers everywhere.