Stir-fries are very quick and easy to prepare. They are an excellent—and colorful—way to increase the amount of vegetables you're eating; and can be incredibly versatile.

This recipe includes onion, carrot, bell peppers and eggplant; but feel free to substitute any vegetables you have on hand.

Chicken And Vegetable Stir-Fry:

Although this recipe requires a little bit of prep-work, the actual cooking time is minimal.

To decrease your prep-time, chop your vegetables (excluding eggplant) when you purchase them. This way they are ready when you need them!

Each serving is approximately 260 calories and contains 30 g protein!

(serves 4—serving size approximately 2 cups)

Ingredients:

small handful basil leaves (may substitute cilantro)- coarsely chopped

2 tbsp. fresh mint leaves- chopped

½ c. low-sodium chicken stock

3 green onions- thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves- roughly chopped

1 inch piece of fresh ginger- peeled and roughly chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion- chopped

1 carrot- peeled and sliced

2 bell peppers—any colors—seeded and cut into thin strips

1 small eggplant- diced (may leave peel on vegetable)

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts- cut into strips

2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

black pepper- to taste

Directions:

Combine basil, mint, ¼ c. chicken stock, ½ of the green onions, garlic and ginger in a blender or food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together and is blended, but not pureed.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, carrots and eggplant. Saute until vegetables are tender, but still a little crunchy—about 10 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep warm.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp. oil into the pan or wok. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the basil mixture. Saute for about 1 minute—until the garlic becomes fragrant and begins to slightly brown. Stir constantly, to prevent burning.

Add the strips of chicken and soy sauce. Saute until the chicken is almost cooked through and no longer pink in the center—about 3 minutes. Toss the remaining chicken stock into the pan and bring to a boil.

Return the vegetables to the pan and mix together until everything is heated through—about 3 more minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl or divide onto individual plates.

Garnish with remaining sliced green onion and serve with brown rice.

Notes:

Fresh herbs and vegetables can quickly become expensive. To help curb the cost of fresh produce, I frequently shop at my local Asian markets.

Herbs are often sold in large bunches—for just a dollar or two. Ginger and eggplant can also be purchased at the market for a fraction of the cost of your local supermarket.

The Asian markets offer many varieties of eggplant—all equally delicious. Eggplants have a soft (but not mushy) spongy texture and a bland—somewhat bitter—taste. In America, the most common type is oval in shape, fairly large and has a beautiful dark purple skin.

Eggplant is a great vegetable to include in a stir-fry because it takes on the flavors that it is cooked with. It also has a significant amount of fiber, which can help you stay full longer. Aside from fiber, eggplant also boasts a high amount of antioxidants which help protect your brain and cardiovascular health.

Eggplant has a tendency to turn black after it is cut into. To prevent this, do not chop the eggplant until you are ready to use it. Also, using a stainless steel knife will keep the vegetable from darkening.

This stir-fry reheats extremely well. You can either microwave it or toss it in a wok with a tiny bit of oil and about a tablespoon of water. Cook until everything is heated through.

About the author: Shari enjoys learning about food, making food, and eating food. She especially has an affinity for unique ingredients and Indian recipes. You can read her blog over at MyFancyPantry.com

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