It’s mid-week. Hump Day. I just can’t life today.
It’s that time of the week where you stayed up last night, later than you should have, catching up (or binge watching) on your Netflix faves, because you need to unwind. Then the alarm goes off in the morning, to go the gym and you hit the snooze button 15 times, only to finally admit that gym+you is just not a reality today. And you’ve made your peace with that. The only redeeming quality of today is cashew stir-fry and all its yumminess, because on wednesdays, you deserve extra self-care for having make it through the gloomy mid-week hump.
I just ate last night’s cashew chicken stir leftovers for lunch. Like literally right now. And my Hump Day just got a whole lot better.
Friends, I have rekindled my love affair with stir-fry. Because why wouldn’t I love the convenience of a 20-MINUTE MEAL with the comforty flavors of takeout without actually ordering takeout and feeling that bloat afterward (hellllooooooooo, soy sauce)? I’m been pressed for time lately, with the kids back in school- homework to be completed and checked, lunches to pack, tests to study for, and of course, tales of drama from the playground. Who actually has time to cook anymore?
So I’ve returned to my old friend, the underrated stir-fry. And what better way to get reaquainted than with a cashew chicken stir-fry? This cashew chicken stir-fry is proof that chicken and cashews are made for each other, especially in the company of their bight veggie friends, like broccoli, bell pepper, and carrots. The vegetables are tender but crispy, flavorful in a light sauce (you can always double the recipe for extra sauciness), and toasty, crunchy cashews, which bring their own unique, crunch.
The cashews: cashews are be my favorite nut– step aside almonds. They’re mild, buttery, and underused. I usually get them raw and unsalted, store them in the freezer (always store nuts in the freezer to prevent the oils from spoiling). Depending on the recipe, you can dry roast and salt lightly with sea salt or go all in and pan “fry” them with a little bit of coconut oil, like I did for this stir fry. The result: an aromatic blend of coconut oil and cashew nut oil. You may have to toast more so you don’t continue munching on them as you prep your dinner. SO GOOD!
The veggies: I used to struggle to get more veggies into my diet. It’s not that I don’t like them because I ❤ them. I just don’t like the visual of overcooked veggies, but stir-fry changes that sentiment. I used onions, red and green bell peppers, and broccoli. I wanted to shave some ribbons of carrots into the stir-fry but my vegetable peeler broke the other day and I haven’t actually gone to the store to replace it, yet. But thank you amazon prime, I’ll be back in business tomorrow, *fingers crossed*. You can easily clean out your fridge and use whatever vegetables you have on hand, or leave out any vegetables you don’t like. Like that forgotten bag of matchstick carrots you got for stir-fries (oops!)
The sauce: This sauce seems like it has some hard to find ingredients, but you can easily substitute with what you do have, if you’re not on a whole30 or paleo diet. I used coconut aminos because I’m on round two of whole30 but you can sub in soy sauce, ounce for ounce. Coconut aminos is a sugar and soy-free alternative for traditional soy sauce, and given that whole30 and paleo diets do not allow refined sugar or soy, this is the closest alternative and a must-have for paleo and whole30 kitchens. I love garlic chili paste and it can be found at most major grocery stores these days. Just make sure it doesn’t have any of the ingredients on the “don’ts” list for whole30 or paleo. Another good everyday substitute is sriracha. And I LOVE sriracha– If you’re a fan like I am, give these wings a try! I could drink this sauce- it had to bribe myself with toasted cashews to leave enough sauce for the actual stir-fry.
The chicken: Chicken breast is my go-to protein. It’s lean, cooks relatively quickly, and is a blank canvas because you can season it however you want, without getting in the way of the taste of chicken. It’s also bland unless you season properly. So season, season, season! I also only had chicken breast on hand but this recipe would work very well with chicken thighs too. Or a mix of both. Or dare I suggest pan-fried tofu? Insert gasp emoji. The most important element to keeping the chicken flavorful is to season with salt and pepper (remember that season, season, season cheer I just did?) and coating it with arrowroot powder/cornstarch and cooking it in a little bit of fat to both brown the chicken and get a crust on the pieces so the chicken stands up to the crispy veggies. Don’t worry about the bits and pieces that get stuck to your pan; the moisture released from the veggies will deglaze the pan naturally.
So go ahead. Win dinner tonight, pack some for lunch tomorrow (or just eat it all tonight, right out of the pan). Me? I’m gonna give this going to bed on time thing a try tonight and report back later.
- [br]For the stir-fry:
- 1 ½ lbs. chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
- 2 onions cut into bite size pieces
- 1 red pepper cut into bite size pieces
- 1 green pepper cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- ½ cup cashews+2 tbsp. cashew halves for garnish
- 2 tbsp. arrowroot powder (or 1 tbsp cornstarch)
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil or oil with high smoking point
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- For the sauce:
- ¼ cup coconut aminos/soy sauce
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 tbsp. white vinegar
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or ½ tbsp. cornstarch)
- 1 tsp garlic chili paste, if using (whole30 compliant)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. grated ginger
- Make the sauce: combine coconut aminos/soy sauce, vinegar, broth, chili paste, garlic, and ginger. Whisk together and sprinkle in arrowroot powder/cornstarch, until completely dissolved. Set aside.
- Toast and chop the cashews: heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a heavy bottomed pan or wok over medium high heat. Add cashews and “fry” until cashews are golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside to cool. Once cool, chop all but 2 tbsp. cashews and set aside.
- Cook the chicken: in a medium bowl, toss chicken with salt, pepper, and arrowroot powder/cornstarch, coating chicken well. Add chicken in a single layer into the pan/wok and brown all sides over high heat. Cook chicken until center is no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Cook the veggies: Heat remaining tbsp. of coconut oil in pan/wok, on high heat. Add veggies and toss to coat. Stir evenly, and continue cooking until veggies are tender but still crispy. Add the chicken back into the pan with the veggies, along with the chopped cashews. stir all ingredients together. Reduce heat to medium. Drizzle in the sauce evenly. The sauce will bubble up and thicken up. Remove from heat. Serve over rice, cauliflower, or by itself.
If you like saucier stir-frys, double the sauce. The recipe as written has a light coating of sauce but sometimes I double it if I’m serving with rice.
If you’re following a whole30 or paleo diet, make sure you use ingredients without soy, wheat, sugar, or any of the ingredients on the “off-limits” list.